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International marine adventurers visit Cairns


Led by internationally renowned skipper Philippe Poupon and his wife, Geraldine Danon, the Fleur Australe, a 20-metre sailboat currently on a three-year maritime expedition from the North to the South Pole, recently arrived in Australia to raise international awareness about the effects of climate change.

Poupon and Danon spent three days in Cairns observing how the actions of the community and local farmers can save the fragile ecology of the Great Barrier Reef, and at the  same time reduce local emissions of greenhouse gases.

SITA General Manager - Strategy & Sustainable Development, Simon Lee hosted the intrepid travellers on their Cairns visit to help them understand how Australians are addressing some of the inter-related environmental issues facing our soils and oceans.

“During their Australian stop-over, Poupon and Danon have committed to raising the profile of initiatives being taken to preserve our environment, particularly those associated with the health of our oceans,” explained Mr Lee.

“In Cairns we visited the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre and Salmec Harvesting at Popalardo's Farm, where our visitors learnt about how nutrient run-off from farming practices using chemical fertilisers is affecting local water systems and ultimately the animals that live on the Great Barrier Reef, as well as the reef itself,” said Mr Lee.

After reviewing compost applications along Thomatis Creek and its positive effect on reducing nutrient run-off, the group toured the SITA Advanced Resource Recovery Facility, where compost is produced from local urban-generated waste. The compost is used to replace chemical fertilisers on local sugarcane farms in the region, thus having a positive impact on the health of the Great Barrier Reef’s ecology.

In her online narrative, Ms Danon expressed her interest in learning about urban-generated compost, “…natural fertilisers improve not only sugar cane yields, but also soil health. Another benefit of the organic method is healthier sea water, which was being contaminated by chemical fertilisers in the runoff from torrential rains in the region.”

“Compost…is now proving effective for all types of cultivation. This is a big market, and one that is moving in the right direction, because it is natural and does not pollute streams or ocean water,” Ms Danon explains on the Fleur Australe website (

SITA’s involvement in this awareness raising adventure stems from GDF SITA sponsoring the Fleur Australe expedition. SITA is an Australian environmental business unit of the global utility services provider.  The sailing boat and its crew are receiving logistical support from GDF SITA subsidiaries at every port of call where the Group is active.

The Fleur Australe will end its voyage in Antarctica at the end of 2013.

Poupon and Danon are accompanied by their four children (Nina, age 15; Lou, age 11; Laura, age 5; and Marion, age 3).

2014 Winner Environmental Sustainability