A Statement about the Environment
At a time when everybody is sensitive to environmental issues, a sympathetic approach to the sustainable management of holiday destinations has become obligatory.
In a destination where even the slightest activity may induce a disproportionate reaction, addressing environmental concerns, raising awareness and taking positive action have always been inter-linked components in achieving success.
Reethi Beach Resort has always shared these concerns about operations in such a fragile environment and since the management take-over of the resort more than 10 years ago such issues have topped every agenda.
• Investing in technical innovations and the most efficient exploitation of resources (sometimes by employing state-of-the-art technology, sometimes by making ingenious alterations to existing concepts and, yes, sometimes with less success than hoped for) has, over the years, paid dividends, enabling us to achieve significant reductions in the usage of fuels and consequently giving us a carbon footprint far lower than most other resorts operating under similar conditions.
• While a solution to a ‘footprint’ on our doorstep is no real solution should this create a negative impact elsewhere, we believe that future changes must take root within our immediate surroundings by inextricably linking environmental commitment to social commitment
This belief has resulted in our developing very close relationships with the neighboring inhabited islands; providing moral, financial and organizational support to community projects and introducing comprehensive apprenticeship programmes tailored to meet local needs, thereby forging links spanning all walks of life
• As the third influential link to establish a full, sustainable and transparent approach to environmental issues, we then aim at spreading our message to you, our guest.
Take a guided tour to the ‘back of house’ and we will introduce you not only to how our resort is operated but you will also be shown some of the applications that make us green – with a sympathetic approach.
You will discover that being green does not mean renouncing all comfort, but how to indulge in luxury sensibly. You will also better understand why the resort’s motto has always been “Nature with Comfort and Style”.
“Since 2000, Reethi Beach Resort is committed to the principles of sustainability, continually striving to reduce the negative environmental footprint
while improving the quality of its products.”
SOME OF OUR INVOLVEMENTS & ACHIEVEMENTS
National and International Awards and Participations:
• Awarded KUONI, Switzerland Green Planet Award for 6 consecutive years
• Silver Accreditation of Travelife (successor organization of the Green Planet Award for sustainable tourism, partnered by the Federation of Tour Operators) since 2011
• Accreditation of Five Leaves from Five-LeafSystem since February 2012
• Partnering with Earth Hour since 2008
• Supporter of World Environment Day activities since 2005
• Supporter of World Tourism Day activities since 2010
• Founder of Baa Atoll Project in 2007, an informal NGO of all resorts and dive schools in Baa Atoll working for the ban on shark fishing and shark product trade, protection of dive sites and support of local communities and international campaigns
• Leader in having BAP officially registered as NGO, giving it more weight in local and regional agendas. So far BAP has been a key-player with an instrumental role in
o introduction of a nationwide ban of trade with all shark products
o introduction and implementation of fish catching and fish purchasing policies of all resorts within the atoll
o declaration of Baa Atoll as UNESCO Biosphere Reserve
o introduction and implementation of a Management Plan for Hanifaru Bay, including ‘MoUs’ for snorkeling and diving
o agreement by resorts within the Atoll to stop diving in the area during season 2011 - one year ahead of the planned introduction
o Having trained, with Sea Explorer Divers, the first official Hanifaru Bay Marine Ranger
• Hosting the workshop on “Enhancing the Resilience of Coral Reefs and Assessing Vulnerability of Ecological and Social Communities to Climate Change” in July 2011, to launch the nationwide project sponsored by Kuoni Travel, Switzerland and IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) focussing on climate change and effects on coral reefs in the Maldives.
• Undertaking the Mapping of our entire reef-system to monitor coral growth and bleaching as well as marine life abundance in line with the IUCN project to implement a Reef Management System for individual islands / resorts. Reethi Beach was in the vanguard in undertaking this project in the Maldives.
• Installation of temperature loggers around the island for monitoring of sea water temperature in line with the IUCN programme
• Use of Fishwatch, Sharkwatch and Resort Fish Landing monitoring formats in accordance with studies conducted by Darwin Initiative and MCS Marine Conservation Society
Energy and Water:
• Installing an Energy Recovery System at the resort’s desalination plant in 2006, almost doubling output at marginal increase of power consumption
• Commissioning, in 2011, underground tanks of 170 ton capacity for rain-water harvesting with additional capacity planned. Our daily water consumption is around 200 tons and the water desalination plant is now the single most power consuming device on the island.
• Re-cycling of treated water from the sewage treatment plant for irrigation purposes
• Hot water production through Heat Exchange, drawing residual energy from running power generators to supply all guest and staff rooms, kitchen outlets and laundry; system installed in 2010, operational in 2011
• From mid 2011, using hot water from the heat exchange cycle used for a Dry-Room in the laundry, making big commercial dryers obsolete – previously the most power consuming individual machines on the island
• Power-Keys installed in all rooms and a request for the re-use of towels and bed linen as industry standard
• opting to replace low-wattage CFL light bulbs with even more efficient LED lighting, at the same time avoiding the negatives of CFL. 30% of the islands lighting having been replaced by Dec 2011.
• Inverter type air conditioning units replacing older models at an approximate energy saving of 50%
• Bottling of our own drinking water in re-usable glass bottles, since August 2010, thereby effecting a saving of over 400 disposable plastic bottles every day
• Complete halt of the usage of plastic straws (2010) and plastic bags (in outlets 2008 and rooms 2011)
• Re-fillable guest toiletries
• Withdrawal of usage of disposable paper towels and drinks coasters; portioned packaging served reduced to the minimum
• Efficient “RRR” Waste Management, centering on raising awareness among staff and local communities
• Recyclable materials segregated and compacted for shipping
• Household batteries re-exported to Europe for proper disposal
• Emphasis on Purchasing Local Produce
• Emphasis on Purchasing Bulk & Catering Packaging
• Pilot project of bio-gas production (planned)
The Island and Its Surroundings:
• Introduction of least-impact erosion control – with geotextile bags filled from the islands own ‘sand budget’; bags have a special top layer which allows for coral growth and can be removed for re-use after a monsoon season. The system is being viewed by many surrounding properties for replication
• Coral Propagation on specially designed grills in the lagoon; Reef Monitoring
• Electrically enhanced Coral Propagation on specially designed grills with power generated by solar cells
• Voluntary maintenance and upkeep of surrounding uninhabited islands
• Sensible landscaping concentrating on local greenery and plants and re-introduction of green waste mulching and composting
• Engineered Bacteria added to compost allowing for the addition of food waste as well as grease trap residues
• Engineered Bacteria added to the sewage treatment plant to reduce accretion of sludge
• Maintaining the Built-Up Area of the resort at just over 16% -including the water villas – with 20% set as the national standard
• Use of local crafts such as kajan (coconut) thatch or locally produced lampshades for furnishing and refurbishing
• Re-use of construction material during maintenance and upkeep projects; new material from accredited suppliers
• Organic Garden pilot project for herbs and spices
• Alternative pool cleaning without chlorine – sanitizing through ionization, introduced in 2010, extended to include the sanitizing of the spa Jacuzzi in 2011
• Pilot project of natural mosquito-control, extended from the use of mechanical larvae-traps to the use of naturally occurring sweet-water larvae-feeding fish and spraying Neem and Citronella oil as repellents
• biodegradable cleaning products
• Support and assistance of neighboring communities with various projects
o acting as a platform for sales and promotion of local products and services, such as lampshades from Kihaadhoo, lacquer ware from Hithadhoo, folklore shows from Kendhoo and Kamadhoo
o including the Kudarikili home museum as an excursion option
o supporting school projects in Kamadhoo and Kihadhoo
o assisting with regular waste management in Dharavandhoo
o non-bureaucratic support with transport and logistics as well as maintenance for all neighboring local islands
o tree planting on Reethi Beach with fund-raising component for Kamadhoo
o donation of life saver rings for the harbours of Dharavandhoo, Dhonfanu, Kamadhoo, Kihaadhoo
o material, financial and logistic support for a turtle hatchery run by Kihaadhoo school
o since 2010 for each Christmas card sent, we donate US$1 to ‘Tiny Hearts’, a local NGO supporting children with heart problems
• Annual draw among local staff to fund one Hajj pilgrimage
• Support and Assistance provided to other international social and environmental projects, such as “Donate a Dollar” (largest single contributor in 2010), “Their Future Today” (contributing first prize for the annual charity tombola since 2009), “Shark Savers”, “Shark Project”, etc.
THE BAA ATOLL PROJECT
Reethi Beach launched the Baa Atoll Project (BAP), an independent union of all the resorts and dive centers in the atoll, in 2007. The respective representatives initially gathered to find means to counter the decline of shark populations in the area, and have subsequently dealt with many other topics.
With the participation of representatives from all regional islands and administrative areas, ministry deputies, spokespersons for the national safari boat and fishing associations, BAP was soon playing a pivotal role being actively involved in environmental and social issues throughout the entire Northern Province.
At meetings of the Baa Atoll Project, the topics listed below, among others, have been discussed, decisions reached, codes of conduct established, rules and regulations implemented.
• In 2008 a Fish Purchasing Policy was agreed upon, introducing binding guidelines for all resorts within the atoll, concerning both the purchase of supplies from local fishermen as well as fishing excursions offered to guests.
• A code of conduct was implemented for boat traffic within Hanifaru Bay with safari- and excursion-boat operators, plus neighboring resorts as signatories, thereby providing a much-needed step to protect this bay – world famous for whale shark and manta ray sightings.
• As agreed by moratorium, all the resorts in Baa Atoll stopped diving operations in the Hanifaru Bay in 2011 – a measure stipulated by law only from 2012.
• Reethi Beach and Sea Explorer Divers have trained the first official Baa Atoll Marine Ranger to monitor Hanifaru Bay.
• In cooperation with the AEC, Atoll Ecosystem Conservation Project, BAP has supported the candidacy of the entire Baa Atoll to be designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. This appointment was made in July 2011.
In addition, the following environmental policies have been implemented:
• By the end of 2009, shark fishing within a two-mile zone around the Maldives was prohibited.
• In July 2010 the law prohibiting the trade with all shark products was ratified. The island resorts provide financial and/or organizational support for the re-deployment and re-training of the population formerly engaged in the shark fishing industry.
Partnership agreements with neighboring inhabited islands are encouraged and BAP serves as a contact for the planned introduction of a centralized waste disposal system throughout the Northern Province – while other resorts in Raa, Lhaviyani and Noonu Atoll and all inhabited islands in the four atolls are encouraged to be a part of the discussion process.
Reethi Beach was temporarily assisting in the disposal of domestic waste from the nearby island of Dharavandhoo. However, following the construction of an airport and a city hotel on Dharavandhoo, this is no longer feasible and Reethi Beach is now planning to provide support by assisting with the disposal of household waste from Goidhoo, in the remote Goidhoo Atoll, south of Baa Atoll. Administrative challenges on the designated disposal site on Male Atoll is, unfortunately, currently causing a delaying the implementation of this planned initiative.
BAP also maintains contacts with national and international environmental groups supporting their respective projects, such as Shark Savers and Shark Project.
As a precursor to a night fishing-free Baa Atoll, Reethi Beach Resort pioneered the removal of night fishing from its excursion program -one of the first resorts in the Maldives to apply this restriction.
Logistical challenges often hinder meetings of all interested parties and BAP has reviewed processes and procedures in order to adopt a simplified structure. So, once again, only the resorts and dive bases will convene for strictly regional issues, and then liaise accordingly with the many other national associations as appropriate. In addition, one of the original objectives – the protection of the shark population – will, again, be given priority status.
Reethi Beach is now pressing ahead with the objective of having BAP registered as an official NGO - under the new name BAARU (Baa Atoll Resorts United) - in our local language, Dhivehi, ‘baaru’ means ‘strong’. This will help us gain more influence in future project decision making processes.
Although results do not always emerge as fast as one might hope and progress is often delayed by rather dogged negotiations, we, at Reethi Beach, are committed to continue moving in the right direction, albeit with small steps, along the long road that lies ahead.
Finally, we from Reethi Beach Resort would like to recognize the pro-active support being received from the other resorts in the atoll, all of whom share the same objective in wanting to see a strong, united BAP, in particular Soneva Fushi and Four Seasons at Landaa Giraavaru. Equally of course, we would like to applaud the numerous local clubs and associations for their commitment and professional engagement towards the implementation of environmental policies and their help in increasing the general awareness of the need in protecting our waters. Also, more and more support is given to us by international tour operators, especially Kuoni Switzerland, and the local population who deserve high praise for recognizing, accepting and facing so openly the new challenges that have come upon us all so fast.