HABITAT founder and managing director Matt Keys may spend most of his time restoring and preserving complex ecosystems, but he is the first to admit he won’t live to realise his life’s work.

“THE greatest challenge facing humanity is to slow the growing consumption of the planet’s finite resources and finding the right balance between economy and ecology,” he says.

“This challenge will be measured by decades and centuries, not singular years. This is a global issue. We’re talking about really big stuff and I’ll be long gone and forgotten by then.”

While the company occasionally secures a major government or city council contract, Keys’ team primarily works with large property developers including Sunland Group, Stockland, Nifsan and Mirvac.

Working with a team of scientists, ecologists, zoologists and botanists, Habitat’s services include environmental impact statements, open space management plans, ecology restoration plans and bushland regeneration.

Keys is adamant the company will only work with clients he considers ‘serious about environmental management’.

“We continue to have a no-advertising policy and all our work comes from industry referrals and word of mouth,” he says.

“We only want to work with companies who want to work with us for the right reasons. I am a firm believer that you could have 100 staff and turnover $100 million but unless I am convinced that the quality of work is there, it won’t happen.”

While his work is an integral component of large scale developments, much of it goes largely unnoticed.

“We’re usually the first ones on a site and the last to leave,” he says.

“The irony is that we fly right under the radar. We aren’t building a giant bridge or a multi-storey building, we’re building eco-systems and the majority of people who appreciate our natural assets aren’t aware of what goes into preserving them.

“The birds, mammals, reptiles and insects certainly appreciate our work though. Often all we have to do is kick-start a natural preserve and allow nature to take over from there.”

Habitat continues to field interstate enquiries including most recently a contract in Darwin, but Keys enthusiastically affirms the Gold Coast’s status as ‘not only a leader in Queensland and Australia, but in some areas a global leader’.

“A generational shift coupled with Gold Coast residents’ underlying recognition that we have one the most beautiful environments in the world is driving this attitude,” he says.

“Gold Coast companies recognise that we didn’t build the natural assets of this city, we built within it and that’s why local businesses are some of the most environmentally-aware in the world.

“In the year 2010, collectively we have grown to better understand and begin to deal with this problem. The challenge for 2011 will be to outperform the results achieved in 2010 and thereafter.

“But achieving this cannot be done without the work of thousands of companies and people on a much smaller scale. Habitat plays a small role in ensuring that yesterday’s best is today’s not good enough.”

Young Entrepreneur Profile

Matt Keys
Habitat Environment Management
Age: 40
Business Est: 1998
Staff: 10
Growth: 16 per cent
Turnover: $1.8 million

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