Romain Mari

I enjoy the freedom we have. I enjoy the near-to immediate positive impact of our projects, on the local environment and community.”


Why did you study biology and environmental management?

I was drawn to studying marine biology initially, and came to UQ as it has some of the best courses, researchers, and supervisors in this area!

What was the best part of your time at UQ?

Many classes were very inspiring with lecturers who also worked with industry or on international environmental projects with global impact. One of my favourite lecturers once said to us: “Finding solutions is easy – the hard bit is to find the problem!”

I also loved the field trips to the research stations of Heron Island and Moreton Bay, and the Rainforest Ecology trip was equally memorable.

At the Moreton Bay Research Station on Stradbroke Island I even had the opportunity to run my own marine research project in their on-site aquariums.

What kind of things do you do in your current job?

I established Distant Relatives Ecolodge & Backpackers in Kilifi, Kenya, with another UQ graduate, Thomas Atkinson.

Every day is a new learning experience in operating a business but the main goal is to create a low impact and sustainable footprint in this community through the application of environmental principles which I studied at UQ.

As part of our community development strategy we organise Permaculture Design and Eco-Building courses. We are a demonstration site for the Permaculture Research Institute of Kenya and are now certified by Ecotourism Kenya for “demonstrating awareness and commitment to environmental conservation, responsible resource-use and socio-economic investment".

Armed now with the experience I have in managing the resort, I am considering returning to UQ to undertake a degree in hospitality management to finally learn the theory I am now using every day,

I am proud that I have been able to create a place where everyone is welcome, and which encourages everyone to respect and embrace the environment and each other’s cultures and backgrounds. In this changing world this acceptance and appreciation is where I believe the most positive difference can be made.

What advice would you give to anyone starting their career?

Don’t rush into university. Travel around, work in various fields, get a feel for what really interests you. Once it clicks, once it makes sense – go to university and study this!

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Romain Mari

Romain Mari

Job title
Owner, Distant Relatives Ecolodge & Backpackers

Bachelor of Marine Biology and Ecology
Master of Environmental Management (Natural Resource Management)

Profile published 2016

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