The Maldives is a fragile environment. It is more fragile and more in danger than most other places on earth. The country’s existence relies on healthy coral reefs and a moderation of the sea level rise.
Leaving home for a holiday in the Maldives doesn’t mean you are temporarily released from your good eco habits but rather it brings home the very purpose of those good works.
There are a few things that we as holidaymakers can do each day, but the biggest difference we will make is through our choice of resort. If the greenest resorts attract more satisfied guests than the others, then the others will change their practices too.
If we end up in a resort that is not particularly good in terms of its eco practices then we can at least show the management that we are interested such matters and add that little bit more pressure for them to change.
This is such an important issue it will have its own area on this site where we can take the discussion much further but for this overview I will start with a list of good and bad resort practices.
1. Water-saving measures: the careful use of ground water, grey water, rain water, desalinated water
2. Energy-saving measures: using energy efficient equipment, minimising air conditioning, maximising daylight and alternative energy sources
3. Waste-reducing measures: the regular use of shredders, crushers and incinerators; a sewage treatment plant, the recycling of relevant material, the disposal to Thilafushi of non-biodegradable material
Conservation projects. This could be a long list, including: guest and staff awareness programmes; measures to preserve and maintain the flora, fauna and beauty of the island; use of mooring buoys ; rubbish retrieval from visited islands; specific environmental programmes such as tree planting and coral reef monitoring
4. Community involvement
6. Conforming to all laws (such as for the local employment rate and the size and overall land-coverage of buildings)
Disposal of organic waste at sea. This will eventually lead to eutrophication and changes in the ecosystem (plastic bags and other items are also often discarded together with the organic waste)
1. The use of coral or local sand for construction
2. The importation of ornamental plants, soil and fertilisers/ pesticides
3. The sale of shark jaws, shells and coral jewelry in resort shops, as the animals those items are taken from are usually endangered
4. The feeding of sharks or stingrays for guests’ pleasure, as this changes the animals’ natural behaviour and makes them dependent on humans
5. The introduction of non-indigenous species (of plant and animals), as these compete with native species, and often win
6. The items on these lists are included in the application form for participation in the President’s Green Resort Award. You might ask your tour operator, travel agent or resort directly if they take part in this award. This would ensure that they take the issues seriously.
Otherwise you might ask if the tour operator or resort can provide any information on the resort’s environmental practices.
Whilst on the resort you could ask if they do any of the above and you could keep your eye open for good and bad practices. At the end of the day, I think those resorts that have better care of the environment also care more for their guests.
What most of us are looking for is a back to nature, luxury Robinson Crusoe experience, where the beautiful environment is appreciated and we all pull together to minimise our impact on it.