Hotelier’s green efforts blooming in Langkawi
LANGKAWI: The names ‘Moringa’, ‘Black Soldier’, ‘Mimosa’ or ‘Heliconia’ may not be found in the list of employees at Frangipani Langkawi Resort and Spa, here, but they have been ‘working’ there for the last 13 years.
Yes, they are among the plants and insects that have contributed towards making this resort, located at Pantai Tengah in Langkawi, the greenest one around, as well as help it win a number of accolades since its establishment in 2005.
The owner of the four-star resort Anthony Wong, 62, who is a naturalist and environmentalist, is the man behind all these green initiatives.
In fact, he considers nature as his most important ‘business partner’.
“We just can’t go against nature. We have to understand and learn how it works and how we can work with it,” he said, as he took this writer on a tour of an organic farm and constructed wetland that he has created in a corner of the resort grounds.
At the Pacific Asia Travel Association (Pata) Travel Mart 2018 that took place in Langkawi last month, Frangipani Langkawi Resort won the Pata Gold Award for Environment – Environmental Education Programme.
Wong’s constructed or artificial wetland and organic farm are located on a half-hectare plot at the south wing of the resort.
The constructed wetland may look ordinary but it was developed by Wong in stages since 2005 to replicate the actual state of a natural wetland.
The inspiration to create an artificial wetland on his resort grounds came after a small river that used to flow through the property became stagnant following physical developments that took place in the surroundings.
In fact, the river had turned into a lake filled with dark coloured water.
“Instead of moaning about it, I carried out numerous experiments at the site over the years to find the best way to reduce the development impact and eventually I came up with the constructed wetlands project,” said Wong.
The project, according to him, involved the cultivation of plants such as water mimosa, pandan, yam, heliconia and water hyacinth all over the wetland area as they serve as effective natural filters for the waste water that was channelled into the lake from the resort.
Over time, this natural process succeeded in treating the waste water and rendering it potable.
“There is no chemical treatment involved. It’s all about bioengineering and the understanding of how things work in the natural world,” Wong said, adding that rainwater was also harvested at the resort for plant watering and laundry purposes.
As for the resort’s organic farm, those who have limited knowledge about organic farming might find Wong’s idea of breeding fly larvae
We just can’t go against nature. We have to understand and learn how it works and how we can work with it. — Anthony Wong, Frangipani Langkawi Resort and Spa owner
a bit hard to digest or beyond their imagination.
Of course, it is not the larvae of any ordinary fly species but that of the Black Soldier fly, scientifically known as Hermetia illucens, which has the ability to produce larvae that only feed on food waste or dead animals.
Wong said these larvae played an important part in accelerating the production of compost, a decayed organic material used as a fertiliser for plants.
In some advanced countries, empty larvae shells left by this fly species were used as chicken feed or turned into wound dressing products, while the larvae are used to make biodiesel or feed for farmed fish.
“When given the task to clear up food waste, these (Black Soldier) larvae are unstoppable... they will consume the scrap food continuously until they become adult flies,” he said.
Unlike the common house fly, the adult Black Soldier species only feed on water and is not known to be a disease carrier.
Wong’s remarkable efforts to promote an environmental-friendly tourism operation are not only confined to his organic farming activities but also evident around the resort, such as the saltwater swimming pool and colourful wall decor comprising used glass bottles, as well as the casuarina and coconut trees that protect the shore around the property.
He has also started an activity to collect food waste from other hotels and food outlets around Langkawi to be processed into compost and poultry feed.
This initiative, which is being promoted via social media, has received tremendous public response.
While pledging to continue finding more ways to enhance green practices in his hotel, Wong also hoped to assist the local community, particularly the fishermen and farmers, to be involved in organic farming.
“By practising organic farming, they can reduce the impact of their activities on the environment.
They can get involved in the supply of value-added food (products) and get better returns from their involvement,” he said.
As far as Wong is concerned, there is nothing that can be considered as waste.
“They are all resources”, he declared.
For sure, his greening efforts will continue to bloom to help keep Langkawi as natural as possible for as long as possible.
Frangipani Langkawi Resort and Spa is best known for its environmentally-friendly features and the creation of this saltwater swimming pool is one of them.
Big tanks and natural resources that formed are among the ingredients in the creation of a constructed wetlands at Frangipani Langkawi Resort and Spa. — Bernama photos
A section of creeping plant surrounding a tree at the compound of Frangipani Langkawi Resort and Spa