Sustainable development is one of Heritage Resorts‘ biggest concerns. A number of strategies have been put into place to ensure that the estate is developed sustainably and in an eco-friendly way, from its rolling hills to the depths of its sea floor. What unites these projects is a passionate desire to protect the Wild South’s natural heritage for generations to come. Discover the key initiatives being rolled out in each of the estate’s constituent parts: its nature reserve, its hotels and along its coastline.
A nature reserve rich in biodiversity
Heritage Nature Reserve consists of 1,300 hectares of grassland, rivers and waterfalls overlooking Bel Ombre and its lagoon. This natural sanctuary is home to an extraordinarily rich ecosystem of endemic plant and animal species. We are deeply committed to their conservation and partner with a wide range of Mauritian NGOs, such as the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, Reef Conservation and SOS Heritage, in order to protect them.
Guests are invited to discover Bel Ombre’s UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, located in the Black River Gorges National Park, on foot or aboard a 4×4. Biosphere reserves seek to establish sustainable interactions between humans and ecosystems, in order to reconcile their sometimes divergent needs. During these nature walks, you’ll discover beautiful endemic tree species including bois de natte, bois tambour and black ebony. You’ll also admire rare endemic bird species such as the echo parakeet, pink pigeon and olive white-eye. These enjoyable, family-friendly hikes raise public awareness of conservation issues in an interactive, accessible way.
Alexandre Piat, a dynamic Sustainable Development Executive, has recently joined the Heritage Resorts team. His role is to develop and implement eco-friendly projects, strategies and products at Heritage Bel Ombre; and to apply the recommendations of the Green Key accreditation, which the group has held since 2017. “Green Key is an environmental certification for the hospitality business that evolves constantly”, explains Alexandre. “It’s not a one-off certification; you have to improve every year in order to keep it.”
Certain eco-friendly projects, such as the use of refillable glass water bottles and recycling through the Plankton social enterprise, have been in place for some time, yet continue to bear fruit. Other initiatives have more recently been implemented. For instance, Heritage Le Telfair and Heritage Awali have now installed flow reducers on faucets to reduce water wastage; use biodegradable detergents and dishwashing products; retrofitted LED bulbs; and preheated hot water using solar energy. In addition, the air conditioning in rooms now turns off when the doors to the veranda are open, and rooms are equipped with a card lock system that cuts the room’s electricity supply when guests leave. Endemic species are also added to the hotel gardens whenever flower beds need replanting. And the hotels’ shops will soon stock eco-friendly sun creams to help protect Bel Ombre’s coral reefs.
Finally, Heritage Resorts now offers guests an opportunity to sample fresh ingredients that are responsibly reared or grown only a few kilometres away from their hotel rooms. Among Bel Ombre’s signature foodstuffs are game, taro, breadfruit, cassava and heart of palm. A 100% organic vegetable garden is also being planned!
A resurgence of marine life
The Bel Ombre beach has narrowed by almost 10 meters over the last decade. Several scientific studies have highlighted the dangers of this type of coastal erosion. Given these alarming forecasts, Heritage Resorts has partnered with LUX * and Outrigger, two other hotel groups operating in the region, to set up a beach and lagoon rehabilitation programme. First, an unobtrusive basalt dyke was built at the mouth of the Citronniers River to stabilise the beach. Eight breakwaters were then placed in the lagoon to minimise the impact of waves washing onto shore. Finally, new sand was added to the beach.
Since then, the installation of artificial reefs – which attract large numbers of fish – has led to a revival of local marine life. The lagoon is once again home to species with amusing names such as “Madame Tombée” (Cheilinus trilobatus, or triple-tail wrasse), the “Cousse Cousse” (Abudefduf sordidus, or blackspot sergeant) or the Rouget Gros Labouche (Parupeneus bifasciatus, or bubble-bar goatfish). Within only a few weeks, more than fifteen species that were not previously found in the lagoon were identified in its waters. Today, Day Marine monitors the beaches, the University of Mauritius controls water quality and Reef Conservation is in charge of environmental monitoring in the area.
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