Malaysian sustainable tourism pioneer’s key achievements include completion of a Carbon Sequestration Study and a major expansion of its Zero-Waste Programme.
The Datai Pledge, the wide-reaching sustainability, conservation, and community support programme of iconic Malaysian resort The Datai Langkawi, has published its third annual Impact Report. Covering the year 2022, the report has been released following meticulous monitoring and documentation. It details key successes in various projects across all four pillars of The Datai Pledge. These aim to support marine life, terrestrial wildlife, and local youth and the community, as well as make the resort’s business operations more sustainable. Highlights include saving 365,642kg of waste from going to landfill; planting 2,570 saplings from the resort’s Native Tree Nursery in the rainforest; recording a doubling of biodiversity and an eight-fold increase in fish biomass in the regenerated reefs of Datai Bay; and securing the approval of the Langkawi Development Authority (LADA) for its world-first trans-island wildlife corridor project.
Pure For The Future underpins The Datai Langkawi’s commitment to sustainable business operations and aims to steward the regeneration of the environment. In 2022, the resort continued its journey to becoming Carbon Neutral with a comprehensive cross-pillar programme, including completing a Carbon Sequestration Study based on the Carbon Stock Assessment with Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) and partnering with Pantas Climate Solutions to monitor carbon emissions. An already extensive zero-waste-to-the-landfill programme was expanded to The Els Club Teluk Datai golf course, contributing to the diversion of 365,642kg of waste from going to landfill and an overall 91.65 metric tons of carbon dioxide prevented from polluting our environment – representing an overall efficiency for the programme of 75%. The resort produced 172,264 bottles of still water filled in recyclable bottles in-house, created 3,021 recycled candles from used candles, collected 2,923kg of waste during regular beach cleanups, and partnered with FatHopes Energy to convert 3,283kg of used oil into biofuel. The resort also continued its partnership with local social enterprise The Kanshalife Project, including donating MYR57,300 (approx. GBP9,660) to the construction of its premises, and the Geng Bersih Kampung project to successfully convert a local home into a community space for eco-education workshops and training.
“People and planet are our concern. Our focus has been to reduce our carbon footprint and waste, and support the local community with sustainable initiatives. Last year, we increased our efforts to create a circular economy through rethinking and repurposing waste and channelling usable resources back into the system to avoid landfill. We have made great strides in reaching the wider community through supporting their sustainable enterprises and fostering community resilience against climate change.” said Remi Giromella, Pure For The Future pillar leader and Director of Quality Control and Improvement at The Datai Langkawi.
Fish For The Future initiatives in 2022 focused on promoting sustainable fishing whilst conserving and propagating the coral reefs and marine life, with continuous efforts to secure Protected Area status for Datai Bay. Key achievements included the successful construction and deployment into the bay of a new prototype artificial reef designed by Chief Advisor and renowned naturalist, Irshad Mobarak; installing 10 turtle-friendly lights to increase the probability of turtles nesting on the beach; and removing 90kg of ghost nets and planting five varieties of coral in collaboration with the Department of Fisheries (DoF) and Dorken Reef Resources. A thorough assessment of artificial reef structures in Datai Bay was also completed in conjunction with the DoF and the Fisheries Research Institute, which found that species diversity had doubled, and fish biomass had increased eight-fold in the bay since March 2020.
68 guests of The Datai Langkawi engaged in marine education activities hosted by Fish For The Future pillar partner MareCet, the only NGO in Malaysia dedicated to marine mammal conservation and protection of their habitats. The resort continues to fund MareCet’s long-running flagship Langkawi Dolphin Research Project, an ongoing investigation into the distribution, abundance, ranging patterns, social structure, behaviours, and acoustic ecology of Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphins, Indo-Pacific Finless Porpoises and more, as well as their interactions with humans. In the past year, MareCet has published four scientific papers in international peer-reviewed scientific journals and engaged 4,714 visitors in 30 locations through its Whales On-The-Wheels Mobile Marine Education Exhibition.
The Wildlife For The Future programme aims to conserve, regenerate, and reconnect Langkawi’s fragmented rainforests to ensure the wildlife continues to flourish using a holistic approach. In 2022, 3,800 seedlings of 16 different species were cultivated at The Datai Langkawi’s Native Tree Nursery; while staff and guests planted approximately 2,570 saplings from the Nursery in the rainforest. Over 100 guests participated in Wildlife For The Future activities at the resort, raising a total of MYR12,300 (approx. GBP2,072).
The Datai Pledge team initiated an independent three-month research study of three rivers in the wider Teluk Datai area – discovering the critically vulnerable Copper Mahseer in Datai River; and also conducted phenology and tree identification studies within the resort grounds – identifying 22 species currently listed as vulnerable or critically endangered on the IUCN Red List, including seven ‘mother trees’ of the endangered Keruing Bukit species.
Planning for the ‘Corridor for Life’ – believed to be the world’s first trans-island wildlife corridor – was also completed in partnership with Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) doctorate researcher Ben Galea and the Malaysian Primatological Society. Further lobbying of government bodies and key stakeholders secured the agreement of the Langkawi Development Authority (LADA) to spearhead the implementation of the project, which aims to reconnect pockets of fragmented forest from the east to the west of the island, enabling safe passage of animals on-ground and above.
The resort’s partner on Wildlife For The Future is Gaia, a social enterprise dedicated to conserving wildlife, specialising in the welfare of hornbills and preserving their habitats. In addition to The Datai Pledge’s work with Gaia on hornbill research and habitat creation, the programme is also funding specific projects such as the development of a fig tree nursery, the preferred food plant 0f hornbills.
Under the Youth For The Future pillar, The Datai Pledge strengthened its support for the Global Eco-Schools Programme to include sponsorship of a third school in Langkawi. Designed to inform and engage students in respect and appreciation of nature through education and action on environmental issues, the programme is UNESCO-endorsed and supported by the Ministry of Education as well as the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, and operated and run through The Datai Pledge’s NGO partner Green Growth Asia Foundation (GGAF), which champions green projects that drive economic growth through education for sustainable development and social inclusivity. The resort also formalised its partnership with Jane Goodall Institute’s Roots & Shoots Malaysia Award (RASMA), with a six-week volunteer sustainability and conservation programme for four participants – one of whom was subsequently offered a permanent position as an in-house naturalist for The Datai Langkawi.
Key goals for 2023 include implementing Carbon Footprint Management (CFM), installing solar panels, and optimising in-house waste management processes and technological capabilities as part of the Pure For The Future ambition to achieve Carbon Neutral status by 2024. Under the Fish For The Future pillar, objectives for 2023 include establishing at least three more artificial reef structures; deploying a sonar recording buoy in Datai Bay to collect data on marine mammals in partnership with MareCet; and creating a new PADI-certified marine research dive centre with at least one Dive Master-certified marine biologist to facilitate guest participation in marine research dives.
2023 will also see the commencement of Phase 1 of the ‘Corridor for Life’ project – a pilot to establish the methodology and build wider community, government, and NGO support; upgrades to the Native Tree Nursery including the addition of a Seed Bank and guest education facilities; and the launch of new co-curriculum programmes such as Climate Ready Classrooms in partnerships with GGAF.
In recognition of its ongoing efforts in the framework of The Datai Pledge, The Datai Langkawi has achieved a third consecutive EarthCheck ECO Silver Certification in 2022 (the first hotel to achieve this for terrestrial tourism projects); as well as ASEAN Green Hotel Standard Certification 2022.