Banyan Tree Maldives celebrates 2019 sustainability achievements, sets more goals for 2020

In 2019, Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru and Angsana Ihuru celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Banyan Tree group, the 15th anniversary of Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru Marine Lab and the 10th anniversary of the Banyan Tree Global Foundation (BTGF).

Both properties also achieved EarthCheck Gold certification for their commitment to preserve the cultural heritage and natural surrounds. These milestones were commemorated by continuing to drive the core values of sustainable development.

The properties successfully eliminated over 90 per cent of targeted single-use plastic, since pledging to go plastic free on Earth Day 2018.

New initiatives, such as the monthly ‘Full Moon Lights Out’, further increase resource conservation efforts. Since the event began in September 2019, around 350kWhs have been saved which amounts to over 100 liters of fuel — enough energy to power an average worldwide household for a whole month.

To raise awareness about the importance of keeping good health and wellbeing, a regular 1km open water swim is organised across the channel between the two properties.

Swim across the channel, a 1km swim between Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru and Angsana Ihuru. PHOTO/ BANYAN TREE

Guests and associates are also encouraged to go meat free, one day a month, to support better health for both the planet and individuals.

Within the local communities, the properties removed 1.5 tonnes of waste with support from over 2,000 community members and partnerships with schools and councils of the islands of Thulusdhoo, Himmafushi, Huraa and Male, as well as the Maldives Girl Guides Association, American Centre Maldives, Tree Maldives, Dhirham, Arabiyya Scouts Association, and Let’s Do It Maldives.

As part of Banyan Tree group’s special 25th anniversary sustainability efforts, focus was placed on education within communities. Banyan Tree Maldives donated much needed tables and chairs for classrooms at Kaafu Atoll Education Centre, and conducted educational sessions for a number of schools and youth organisations.

Efforts also focused on empowering women and promoting cultural recognition by providing opportunities to emerging artists from the American Centre and craftspeople who are building up their careers in traditional artwork such as embroidery.

Environmental conservation, preservation and restoration efforts remain a large emphasis for both Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru and Angsana Ihuru.

In celebration of Banyan Tree Marine Lab’s 15th anniversary, the team expanded one of the lab’s earliest projects, ‘The Necklace’, the world’s first electric reef constructed on Angsana Ihuru in 1998. A pilot experimental assessment is being undertaken, using corals that have been grown on the lab’s various nurseries.

Natural recovery of coral reefs has been slow in North Male Atoll, but it is assisted by the resorts’ conservation, restoration and research programmes.

Around 500 corals that have been growing on rope nurseries for the last two years have been transplanted back onto the house reefs of Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru and Angsana Ihuru. Reef and fish communities are being compared to control areas to assess the value of assisted recovery in the Maldives.

Reef monitoring conducted by the Banyan Tree Marine Lab, an annual assessment of the Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru and Angsana Ihuru house reef along with eight other nearby reefs to record fish and benthic. PHOTO/ BANYAN TREE

This year is the fifth year of a collaborative project with the Maldives’ fisheries minister to assess the efficacy of the shark ban, in an effort to understand the impacts on sharks, reefs, fishers and other resource users. Findings from this were published in several peer-reviewed scientific journals in 2019.

Looking ahead to 2020 and beyond, Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru and Angsana Ihuru are setting the goals even higher, aiming to set best practices and drive core values of sustainable development in the Maldives.

This year, Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru will celebrate its own 25th anniversary and continue to strive towards 100 per cent single-use plastic elimination.

The Marine Lab plans to extend restoration work with the implementation of a mid-water nursery, designed to seed corals that can be transplanted back onto the reef, and the 2020 shark monitoring is underway now.

Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru and Angsana Ihuru are located in North Male Atoll, just 25 minutes away by speedboat from the airport. The two resorts are just 2 minutes by boat away from each other therefore guests of each resort can enjoy the facilities of both including two of the most vibrant and well-preserved house reefs in the North Male Atoll.

Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru opened its door in 1995 and is the first international chain resort in the Maldives. With just 48 pool villas dotting around the island, privacy and relaxation can easily be attained. The resort has a restaurant, bar, PADI Gold Palm five-star resort dive centre and a Banyan Tree Spa.

Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru is also home to the Banyan Tree Maldives Marine Lab, the first of its kind to be funded and built on a private resort, where guests can learn about marine conservation and partake in the many sustainability activities on offer including coral planting, reef cleaning and daily stingray feeding sessions.

Angsana Ihuru is surrounded by one of the most vibrant and well preserved coral house reefs in the Maldives. The resort has 45 villas, a restaurant and a bar, a PADI Gold Palm five-star resort dive centre and an Angsana Spa.

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