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Graduate in charge of green initiatives at Splendour in the Grass


Sharlene King
25 July 2013
A survey tracking the carbon footprint of Splendour in the Grass festivalgoers is a new initiative being rolled out by Splendour environmental manager and Southern Cross University graduate, Tom Margules.

SCU environmental science student volunteers will be conducting the face-to-face survey during the Splendour in the Grass music festival which runs from July 26 to 28 at the North Byron Parklands site near Byron Bay on the NSW North Coast.

Tom developed the carbon footprint survey in conjunction with his former Honours supervisor Associate Professor Caroline Sullivan from the School of Environment, Science and Engineering.

Tom said Splendour had a long history of running a carbon offset program for its own internal emissions as well as providing festivalgoers with an option for offsetting their travel emissions.

“However, it became obvious to me that there’s a knowledge gap around the carbon footprint for people attending open space events in Australia. I wanted to get a firm data set to strengthen the methodology for calculating our carbon offset tickets.”

He said the student volunteers will be gathering details about festivalgoers’ entire journey, starting from the moment they leave their front door.

“We feel that by doing this we will be able to better understand how we can reduce our environmental impact in the future.

“I saw an opportunity for SCU to be involved, particularly given that the School of Environment, Science and Engineering could use that information at a later date to do further research or produce some literature that might help other events establish their carbon offset ticketing.”

Honours student Mitch Kirby will be coordinating the face-to-face survey at the event. Additional carbon footprint data will also be collected online via the Splendour in the Grass website.

The University’s environmental science student volunteers are also assisting Tom with two other green initiatives at Splendour: 'eco cops' and tree planting.

The 'eco cops' will mingle with festivalgoers to encourage and explain Splendour’s waste management program, particularly recycling, as well as other environmental programs.

Tom said Splendour had developed a bush regeneration program at the festival site in conjunction with local ecological experts.

“Two separate native habitats located in the campground are benefiting from tree planting of native seedlings to bridge the gap between the two forested areas. This will help reduce edge affect and increase endemic biodiversity.

“It’s fantastic to have local University students on the ground and available to share some of the content they’ve learnt in class. We know University students are keen to talk about what they learn so it’s a mutually beneficial engagement."

Tom, 30, graduated from Southern Cross University in 2012 with a Bachelor of Environmental Science (Honours). His research into ecological economics saw him value the ecosystem services of a popular wave break at Uluwatu in Bali.

He is also currently employed as an early career researcher working with Associate Professor Sullivan on a fisheries research project investigating the impact of commercial and recreational fishers in the Richmond River.

Professor Sullivan said it was wonderful to see a graduate like Tom making progress in his career.

“Tom has worked hard. He is a great inspiration for other students coming through the environmental science program to see where their qualification can take them.

“That’s the great thing about regional universities: seeing good students continuing to be successful in the region. That’s really satisfying," she said.

Photo: Tom Margules at the Splendour in the Grass festival site