DO­ING SOME GOOD

Good (UAE) - - GOOD LIVING -

On-site en­vi­ron­men­tal con­sul­tant Ryan In­gram tells us how the ho­tel con­trib­utes to the en­vi­ron­ment and en­gages with the com­mu­nity

What makes this such an eco-friendly tourist des­ti­na­tion?

The re­sort is fully in­te­grated into the land­scape of the na­ture re­serve, which is spread across 500 hectares and fenced off to pro­tect our wildlife from out­side pres­sures – 4X4s, camels, goats, dogs, pic­nick­ers and more. We want to give our guests mem­o­rable ex­pe­ri­ences, but steer away from dam­ag­ing the en­vi­ron­ment, so we en­cour­age eco-friendly ac­tiv­i­ties. We also do catch and re­lease fresh­wa­ter fish­ing, which is very pop­u­lar with fam­i­lies as it al­lows chil­dren to cre­ate that mem­ory of catch­ing their first fish with their par­ents.

Tell us about the tree plant­ing ini­tia­tive

Our her­itage for­est is a pi­lot project that aims to fos­ter aware­ness of the im­por­tance of in­dige­nous species, such as the ghaf tree and its im­por­tance to the lo­cal pop­u­la­tion: the medic­i­nal purposes of the leaves, the bark as a food for lo­cal live­stock, its role as a habi­tat for wildlife, and so on. The re­sort also serves as an area where trees can be re­lo­cated to and re­ha­bil­i­tated af­ter be­ing up­rooted due to con­struc­tion. The pi­lot project has been cre­ated in part­ner­ship with Goum­book and their ‘Give a Ghaf’ ini­tia­tive which, since its launch in 2011, has planted more than 30,000 trees across the UAE.

How do vis­i­tors take part?

Guests can get in­volved by mak­ing a fi­nan­cial con­tri­bu­tion to­wards con­ser­va­tion projects and then plant­ing their own ghaf tree within the grounds of our re­sort. It’s a unique op­por­tu­nity to give back to the com­mu­nity and to leave a part of your­self be­hind, and it’s a way for peo­ple to get in­vested in the en­vi­ron­ment.

What other en­vi­ron­men­tal projects do you have in the works?

Our big fo­cus is on get­ting chil­dren in­volved in our ac­tiv­i­ties. We have an un­fin­ished swim­ming pool area that’s go­ing to be turned into an an­i­mal sanc­tu­ary with a fish pond and a pet­ting zoo. There’ll be hardy desert an­i­mals such as meerkats, pygmy goats, hand-reared gazelles and more. Our aim is to en­gage with the com­mu­nity, or­gan­ise school vis­its and help kids un­der­stand an­i­mals bet­ter. We teach school chil­dren how to be sen­si­tive to the desert en­vi­ron­ment, and we’re plan­ning to cre­ate a Ritz Rangers pro­gramme, sim­i­lar to the Brown­ies or the Scouts, where kids can col­lect badges by pick­ing up en­vi­ron­men­tal skills, such as bird watch­ing or iden­ti­fy­ing plants.

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