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Crystal Waters (established in 1988) is a socially and environmentally responsible ecovillage located 100kms north of Brisbane.

In 1995, Crystal Waters received the United Nations WORLD HABITAT AWARD for its "pioneering work in demonstrating new ways of low impact, sustainable living". In 1998 it was included in the UN's World's Best Practices database, having reached the finals in this prestigious competition.

Crystal Waters has eighty-three residential lots (approx 0.5 ha each). Most of these are freehold and occupy only 14% of the entire 259ha (640 acre) property.

The Crystal Waters Community Co-operative owns 6% of the land. This includes the Village Centre that is zoned for commerce, light industry, tourism and educational activities. At this point in time, the village centre contains a commercial kitchen where regular Friday night and Sunday brunch cafes are held, a bakery, a cheesery, rural fire brigade and an information centre. The Co-op also owns the visitors camping area which is situated amongst tall grey gums and is alive with bird and wildlife. This area contains a bunkhouse, ablutions block, and camping sites.

The remaining 80% of the property is owned in common by residents. It includes the best agricultural land, all waterways and steep forested ridges. It can be licensed for sustainable agriculture, forestry, recreation and habitat projects.

The land was first cleared in the 1960's and due to heavy grazing of horses and cows it became degraded and eroded. Through the permaculture design and ongoing efforts of the 200 residents, Crystal Waters has been transformed into a vibrant place to live with a multitude of businesses, food producing gardens and wilderness habitat. The forests along the steep ridges and riparian zones are being restored using species endemic to this area. A dramatic increase in the diversity of flora and fauna has been observed as well as significant improvement in land quality. A balance is being established between food production, housing and wilderness and the land productivity has been dramatically increased.

The by-laws encourage residents to be ecologically responsible for the provision of their needs and the disposal of waste. These by-laws are guidelines for sustainable living, but even more effective is the reality of living where your decisions affect 'your own backyard' -where there is directly observable relationship between consumption and waste. At Crystal Waters, you can't just flush the problem away - if chemicals are poured down the sink, it flows into the adjacent garden or orchard thus contaminating the food supply. The effects of careless actions are seen very quickly and clearly, reinforcing the notion that "there is no away".

Many thousands of people of all ages and backgrounds come from around Australia and the world to learn about sustainable living and environmental design at Crystal Waters. The Crystal Waters College offers a range of programs throughout the year. Most programs are practically based and offer the opportunity to learn by experience.

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