Student has plan for Mexican ecosystem

Stacey Chilcott is pushing to have Mexico’s Riviera Mayan protected.
Stacey Chilcott is pushing to have Mexico’s Riviera Mayan protected.

The Murdoch University postgraduate student’s initial studies in environmental science led her to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, part of the Riviera Maya, the largest subterranean river system in the world.

The system is characterised by cenotes, stunningly beautiful sinkholes of clear water running for kilometres underground.

The threats to the river system from rampant development inspired Stacey to produce her own documentary, before contacting the ABC’s Foreign Correspondent, which, after a long consultation and development period, produced their own report on the subject.

Originally from Victoria, Stacey subsequently travelled to Perth to investigate the caves in Margaret River and learn more about how these ecosystems function. She is now pursuing further studies at Murdoch in sustainable development, returning to Mexico for an internship unit, with two strands.

‘The first project involves a sustainability group who are working with a Mayan community to create wastewater treatment systems,’ Stacey said. ‘My experiences as the secretary of the Murdoch Community Gardens really help here.’

The second project involves creating a feature film about the Riviera Maya.

‘We will outline the beauty and the destruction of the Rivera Maya and associated ecosystems,’ Stacey said.

‘Our team has also been invited to attend the Ninth National Assembly of Environmentally Affected Peoples, which is a great opportunity to participate in interviews with other Mexican representatives who are struggling with the water crisis, as well as film the conference.’

The passionate environmentalist has requested the help of Greens Senator Scott Ludlam to put pressure on the Mexican Government so the Riviera Maya can become federally protected and is therefore eligible for listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

‘This investigation into the cenotes has definitely been life-changing,’ Stacey said.

‘It has given me a pathway to pursue the protection of groundwater ecosystems, especially those most vulnerable to damage and destruction. I am grateful for the opportunities I have had, and am inspired to continue taking action.’

Stacey has set up a crowdsourcing site on Pozible to fund the feature film. Visit