We love a white sand beach, we love the clear waters and we love venturing out into the ocean to see the abundant marine-life. But our presence alone has an impact on the eco-system. Banyan Tree Seychelles has put into place a whole host of measures as part of its ‘Stay for Good’ programme. We all want to enjoy our holidays without causing a negative impact on the planet, so how can we be sure that we’re acting responsibly?
Leading by example
Banyan Tree as a brand is a world leader in sustainable tourism which it promotes in all of its hotels across the world. This ‘Stay for Good’ initiative becomes personal to each of its resorts, depending on their location and the impact of the land and sea around them. As recent as the 1980s, there was widespread killing of turtles in the Seychelles for meat, however, the protected areas changed that dramatically and now the Seychelles has the fourth highest nesting population of turtles in the world; it is therefore of huge importance to protect the species from yet another human onslaught – tourism – whether intended or not.
What’s the problem?
Sadly, if left unchecked we, as tourists, can have a devastating impact on the environment. Activities we love can lead to the erosion of the dune structure and loss of its vegetation, we can unwittingly disturb nesting turtles and our accommodation can take over their nesting habitat. As the Banyan Tree Seychelles is situated on a relatively isolated beach it offers scope to address virtually all of these impacts. The hotel and beach ecosystem is being managed in harmony with the environment, with everyone from management to staff to guests happily getting involved!
MCSS & Banyan Tree – partnerships made in water
A favourite and sensible way is to join forces with a local initiative, and in the case of Banyan Tree Seychelles, this is the Marine Conservation Society of Seychelles (MCSS). It was formed and is run by a group of local marine experts to address matters of marine biodiversity conservation and sustainability. With their expertise they first of all helped to assess the beach and dune structure, vegetation and turtle nesting behaviour so that measures could be put in place to eradicate any damage to populations. Staff were encouraged to participate and training was given in general care as well as tagging and first aid.
Working hand in fin
As the location of the resort is a known turtle nesting rookery, it was imperative that the project was supported, and to progress this, Banyan Tree Seychelles introduced the first Seychelles Conservation Centre for injured Turtles. The collaboration works to rehabilitate turtles on from Intendance Bay and the resort’s surrounding wetlands as well as the whole of Mahe. They monitor and quantify the local terrapin population; and most importantly, manage and improve the interactions between humans and turtles in the Seychelles. The aim is to create a breeding programme of turtles and terrapins and see the species thrive on this beautiful island. On a global level, it feeds back data relating to beach and dune erosion, mapping of beach and nesting habitats, and general turtle monitoring.
I can do that!
As a guest, you can be part of the project. You will be able to learn about, and interact with, vulnerable turtles and terrapins during their rehabilitation. You can take a more active role in the turtles’ preservation by participating in anti-poaching patrols along the beaches or by visiting local schools with the resort’s conservation team to raise awareness of the importance of preserving the precious wildlife. You will be advised what to do if you find a turtle on the beach and there are talks to help you understand the value of turtles in the eco-system.
Therapy for these recovering animals includes limb strengthening exercises, very often in upcycled Jacuzzis, before they are released back into the wild. To a turtle this has to be just one of the many benefits of landing at a Banyan Tree resort!
Literally, as we are writing this article, we have been informed by Banyan Tree that a new, harmed turtle has been admitted into their rehabilitation unit! Meet Eden, who was found around Eden Island’s marina. Her injuries are life threatening – you can see the damaged area on her shell - but the expert help and TLC which she will receive at the centre will
mean that, fingers crossed, she will have a much brighter future and when recovered, will be able to return to the ocean. We’ll be keeping an eye on little Eden.
Never complacent, Banyan Tree continues to look at improvements such as investigation of beach-front lighting regimes and their impact, if any, on the environment. Recently winning the ‘Best Green Resort’ at the World Travel Awards, the resort continues to stand out as a successful fusion of modern luxury and ecological sensitivity. So successful is the project here, that Anse Intendance serves as a shining example for integrated beach management; it has heightened the public profile of marine turtles and now takes its model for adaptation and application to other localities.