“As an outdoor enthusiast, I believe it’s my duty to take an active stance on issues affecting our natural world.” – Darren Edwards

The Allure of Luxury Ecotourism

Beneath the glimmering promise of “luxury ecotourism,” where plush lodges blend with wilderness trails and gourmet meals fuel your adventures, lies a hidden cost. While the idea of experiencing nature’s majesty in five-star comfort may seem ideal, its footprint on our most precious wild spaces paints a different picture. Let’s navigate the alluring labyrinth of this trend and unveil the dangers that lurk beneath the polished veneer.

Imagine it: waking up to the symphony of birdsong, your window framing a breathtaking panorama of untouched wilderness. You embark on a guided exploration, traversing ancient forests and encountering captivating wildlife, all before returning to a haven of indulgent luxury lodges and exquisite cuisine. This is the siren song of luxury ecotourism, luring us with the promise of reconnecting with nature while pampering ourselves in the lap of luxury. Its appeal is undeniable – who wouldn’t be tempted by such an experience?

However, this enchanted melody carries a discordant note. The construction of high-end lodges, sprawling infrastructure, and increased foot traffic within protected areas disrupts delicate ecosystems, fragments natural landscapes, and strains vital resources. It’s like setting up a grand ballroom in the heart of a thriving coral reef, sacrificing one precious treasure for fleeting pleasure.

Research paints a sobering picture. Studies have shown that luxury ecotourism projects in sensitive areas can lead to a drastic decline in biodiversity, with a 50% decrease in some cases. Imagine the vibrant tapestry of life unraveled, one thread at a time, replaced by the monotony of steel, concrete and manicured lodgings.

But the concern extends beyond environmental damage. High-priced lodges often restrict access to those with wealth, creating a two-tiered system where wilderness becomes a playground for the elite. Meanwhile, communities who hold cultural and spiritual connections to these lands witness their traditions eroded by commercial enterprises. It’s as if erecting a gilded wall around our natural heritage, shutting out the ordinary citizens who yearn to experience its wonders.

Untamed Habitats for Thriving Ecosystems

Safeguard clean water, fresh air, and a healthy planet for all.


Untouched wilderness areas provide irreplaceable habitat for diverse flora and fauna. Commercialisation can fragment and degrade ecosystems, threatening endangered species and disrupting fragile ecological balances.

Clean Water and Air

Wilderness often acts as natural filters, purifying water and air through vegetation and natural processes. Development can introduce pollutants and disrupt these vital functions, impacting nearby communities and ecosystems.

Climate Change

Preserving wilderness areas with mature forests and ecosystems helps capture and store carbon dioxide, mitigating the effects of climate change. Development tends to release stored carbon and generate further emissions, exacerbating the problem.

Unplugging for Body, Mind, and Spirit

Ensure outdoor recreation, well-being, and cultural connections for everyone.

Physical and Mental Well-being

Spending time in nature has proven benefits for physical and mental health, reducing stress, promoting physical activity, and boosting creativity. Uncrowded, undeveloped wilderness offers the best opportunity for such experiences.

Cultural and Spiritual Values

Wild places hold cultural and spiritual significance for many communities, fostering connections to ancestral lands and traditional practices. Commercialisation can disrupt these connections and homogenize landscapes.

Outdoor Recreation

Undisturbed wilderness provides opportunities for hiking, camping, fishing, wildlife watching, and other forms of outdoor recreation that millions of people cherish. Development can limit access to these activities and degrade their quality.

Balancing Profits with Wilderness Treasures

Preserve biodiversity and natural beauty for future generations.

Sustainable Tourism

Responsible ecotourism focused on nature appreciation and minimal impact can benefit local communities economically, while protecting wilderness values. Overdevelopment can lead to unsustainable mass tourism, damaging the very resources it relies on.

Long-Term Benefits

Preserving wilderness can protect water resources vital for agriculture and industry, and safeguard future options for scientific research and discovery. The long-term costs of environmental damage from development often outweigh short-term economic gains.

Make responsible choices

Choose outdoor activities that minimise your impact on the environment and support businesses committed to responsible practices. By protecting our wilderness, we safeguard the health of our planet and ourselves.


James McCormack, editor of WILD Magazine, explores what’s really going on in this two-part piece.

Luxury Lodges = Wilderness Lost

Luxury Lodges = Wilderness Lost


Our national parks are under attack. Privatisation, in the form of luxury lodges and other accommodation for walkers, has gained nationwide momentum. In this, Part I of a two-part series, we look at breadth of the problem across the country.

(This story originally featured in Wild #178, Summer 2020)
Photo: Walls of Jerusalem from Lake Malbena, Tasmania. Credit: Grant Dixon

Luxury Lodges = Wilderness Lost

Luxury Lodges = Wilderness Lost


Our national parks are under attack. The push for luxury lodges and other within-park accommodation, has gained nationwide momentum. In this, Part Two of a two-part series, we look at the root causes and broad implications of these developments.

(This story originally featured in Wild #179, Autumn 2021)
Photo: Get set for the serenity of Tasmania’s South Coast to be shattered. Credit: Dan Broun

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“We are a plague on the Earth. It’s coming home to roost over the next 50 years or so. It’s not just climate change; it’s sheer space, places to grow food for this enormous horde. Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us, and the natural world is doing it for us right now.”

David Attenborough

“As an outdoor enthusiast, I believe it’s my duty to take an active stance on issues affecting our natural world.”

Darren Edwards

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John Paul II

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Barbara Ward
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Rick Ridgeway