Trading-in plastic | Remote sensing | Responsible Tourism

'No Plastic' campaign protects marine life

Disposable plastic bottles are common on the Island of Principe Biosphere Reserve, where tap water is not always safe to drink. Tons of plastic waste have accumulated, and many discarded bottles find their way to the ocean, where they put the island's exceptional marine-life at risk.
The initiative, 'No plastic. A small gesture in our hands', mobilises the local population to get the plastic out of the ecosystem, while improving their access to safe water.
The 'No Plastic' campaign invites the entire population of the island (about 7,000 people) to collect plastic bottles and exchange them for reusable, stainless steel 'Principe Biosphere Bottles'. Fifty plastic bottles can be traded for a reusable one. Once collected, the plastic bottles are compacted and shipped to facilities where they can be disposed of properly or recycled.

In parallel, 13 safe freshwater fountains were installed in public spaces around the island, including schools, markets and the airport. Local managers were trained to maintain the fountains' filtering system.
Launched in 2014, the campaign has collected over 300,000 disposable bottles. The campaign targets children as future advocates for a healthy environment, with awareness activities in school.

Sensing for water resource management

The Malindi-Watamu Biosphere Reserve is located on the coast approximately 100 kilometres to the north of Mombasa, Kenya’s second largest city. The region is one of the main recreational centres of Kenya, and local communities benefit from tourist activities with attractions including boat trips, water sports, deep-sea fishing and coral viewing. Originally designated as a Biosphere reserve in 1979, UNESCO is now proposing to extend the mainly coastal and marine habitats to include the nearby Arabuko-Sokoke Forest as another core zone.

Working with Cranfield University, Bluesky, the UK based aerial survey specialist will provide financial and technical support for the project that will use remotely sensed data, such as aerial photography, satellite imagery and 3D height models, to improve water resource management. This will support a PhD project to study how sediment run-off from the forest catchment area can be controlled to reduce the impact on the ecologically important coral reefs and marine turtle habitats. The project aim is to improve and inform water resource management for eco-hydrology in support of a reforestation and sustainable agriculture within the extended Biosphere Reserve.

Andrew Bell, Service Manager and UNESCO Biosphere Co-ordinator, said, “Working with commercial organisations who are at the cutting edge of technology, such as Bluesky, to support PhD quality research for this intergovernmental programme is ground breaking, not only for the Malindi Biosphere Reserve and its local community, but also for other locations and communities and for scientific research.”

Responsible Tourism Ideas

  • Turtle Bay Beach Club was last year feted at the World Responsible Tourist Awards for being the only hotel in the area with a clear and established environmental policy that also addresses conservation and community needs.
  • These are some of the practices implemented:
  • All waste is sorted at the hotel’s recycling facility.
  • All hard plastics, including bathroom toiletry containers, are recycled.
  • Towels, linen and laundry orders are carried in cloth bags or baskets, rather than in plastic bags to keep off waste that could be associated with this process.
  • Delivery of items into guest rooms is done in non-disposable bags which are re-usable.
  • The hotel has adopted double-sided printing while using waste paper for temporary drafts to minimise paper wastage and put to good use the little amount of paper.
  • The hotel uses vendors who supply their products in returnable containers and crates such as bottled beers and soft drinks rather than canned drinks.
  • It also buys locally-produced food and drinks in returnable containers.
  • It avoids purchasing disposable plates, cups, cutlery, lunch boxes, place mats, aprons and hats that encourage littering.
  • All the food waste from the hotel is fed into a composter, which breaks down the food remains into compost used by the club for gardening.
  • The hotel also has a waste water treatment plant which treats 100 per cent of the facility’s waste water. The waste water is collected into a septic tank, which is then pumped into a treatment plant.
  • Surface run-off is also collected through purpose built drainage systems channelling water to the treatment plant. The recycled water is used for hotel garden’s irrigation as well as flushing the staff toilets.

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