The Digital Environment
21 Sep 2018
Natura Pacific is a sustainability‐focused social enterprise that seeks to reintegrate communities with nature and promote a sustainable business model that can be used globally for social and environmental good. Founded in 2005 by Director Kieran Richardt with a team of Gold Coast‐educated international and domestic students, Natura Pacific has run over 280 consulting projects and provided environmental education programs to more than 130 schools and over 250,000 people throughout eight different countries.
The company maintains an engaged program with local students ‘because of their timely knowledge and enthusiasm for the environment that comes with their educational pathway.’ Additionally, Kieran Richardt says “it gives us a great opportunity to know who the person is, what their skills are, what they can bring to the business and indeed what our business can do for them.”
Engaging students has been very beneficial to Natura Pacific's ability to generate a greater output, while at the same time giving students the capacity to succeed in their courses. The company has employed and/or hosted nine students from different universities including Griffith and Bond.
Natura Pacific earns capital through the provision of expert bachelor and doctoral‐level environmental consultation to some of the Asia‐Pacific region’s largest and developing businesses and organisations such as Origin, Powerlink, Lendlease and Oxfam, as well as state and national governments.
From Natura Pacific’s capital gain, net profit is then reinvested and value‐added directly into their environmental education programs run by Natura Education. This second pillar of the enterprise delivers unique and tailor‐made scientifically‐backed, curriculum‐aligned environmental education programs.
Natura Pacific runs 15 curriculum‐aligned programs at schools across Queensland, northern New South Wales and in the Kimberley, as well as internationally in Indonesia and in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Kieran explains how their professional consultancy informs their education programs: “We run any program that has a link to environmental science because we have a team of enviro scientists that work in the industry as fauna spotter/catchers, ecologists and as botanists who run impact assessments and management plans. We then use those survey techniques to teach to the kids, so that they’re grounded in real life environmental science. We’ll cover anything in ecology from biodiversity through to wetlands, identification of flora and fauna.
“With tertiary students we run programs at university, especially around water quality and macro invertebrates. We’ve published a few books over the years that have been geared to primary and secondary students, but the universities found that what we’d published was also applicable for university level, in that it’s clear and concise with regard to identification and that you’re able to use that identification to run an analysis in determining how healthy that waterway is by the number of species that you find.”
Kieran Richardt points out that one of the biggest advantages of engaging with students has been a greater understanding of the benefits of social media and the different ways they can market the business. “Being digital natives they bring a much more intuitive approach to social media marketing. They not only have a really good grasp of environmental science, but can very effectively disseminate that information via their peers and social networks.”
Similarly, the digital world is also driving engagement with students to become prospective environmental scientists. “At present we have three registered civil aviation drone pilots and we’re doing a lot of stuff with drones at schools. Things like mapping of natural areas at the schools and teaching the kids how we can use that type of technology for restoration ecology,” says Richardt.
Recently a student was employed for a year to compile the company’s popular GroNATIVE app with a grant from the Queensland Government. The student worked exceptionally well with the Natura Pacific team and was later offered a job with the University of Queensland working alongside the Federal Government in legislation and conservation.