Pioneering Malaysian tourism towards sustainability and conservation, the resort announces key successes in moving towards net zero carbon and stewardship of local marine and wildlife
Iconic Malaysian resort, The Datai Langkawi, has published its second Impact Report following the August 2021 launch of its wide-reaching sustainability, conservation and community support programme, The Datai Pledge. The report identifies significant measurable successes attained in key projects across all four pillars of The Datai Pledge, which aim to support marine life, terrestrial wildlife and local youth, as well as make the resort’s business operations more sustainable. Notably, the programme achieved zero-waste-to-landfill (and strives to do so consistently), saving 146,704kg of waste and 69,115 glass bottles; collected over 4,361 seedlings, including critically endangered species, to be germinated in the resort’s Native Tree Nursery; began work on creating a possibly world-first, trans-island wildlife corridor; created an in-situ hatchery and conducive turtle environment in Datai Bay, prompting its first turtle landing in over 10 years; and hosted an intern for six weeks as part of Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots Malaysia RASMA programme.
The vision for The Datai Pledge evolved from the resort’s original DNA of placing ‘people and nature in perfect harmony’. Through its four pillars – Pure For The Future, Fish For The Future, Wildlife For The Future and Youth For The Future - the programme aims to integrate conservation and sustainability into all aspects of the company ethos, business operations, and guest experiences at the resort, to protect and help regenerate the rich biodiversity of Langkawi and enable the local community to thrive. A private trust, The Datai Pledge has developed and spearheads a robust programme of activities in conjunction with local NGOs, social enterprises and community partners. Its Impact Report is designed to inform guests, encourage stakeholders in the resort’s activities and galvanise further community action and support.
Pictured (l-r): The Lab wall made of upcycled bottles; Upcycling workshop at The Lab; and The Permaculture Garden
Pure For The Future underpins The Datai Langkawi’s commitment to sustainable business operations and aims to steward the regeneration of the environment and community. The resort initiated major cross-pillar projects in its quest to become a Carbon Neutral destination - beginning with a carbon stock study conducted in partnership with Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM).
In collaboration with Sahabat Alam Langkawi (SALAM), an independent local non-profit organisation dedicated to environmental conservation and sustainable tourism, The Datai Langkawi achieved zero-waste-to-landfill for the first time in December 2021 and continues to strive to maintain this level. The resort also completed its ‘Organic Wealth Centre’, comprising its relocated hot composting facility, woodchippers and ‘The Asher’ - a newly purchased, Malaysian-made machine that turns plastic and solid waste into non-hazardous ash through the pollution-free process of pyrolysis. The resort saved 146,704kg of waste and 69,115 glass bottles from going to the landfill in 2021, which in turn prevented 117 metric tons of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere. Having become the first organisation in the world to be awarded the EarthCheck ECO Certificate (Silver) for terrestrial tourism in 2019, The Datai Langkawi underwent a further EarthCheck audit in December 2021 and saw its Silver certification renewed.
As part of its Pure For The Future programme, The Datai Langkawi also worked in partnership with SALAM to nurture micro-businesses and local entrepreneurship in particular; and to support disadvantaged and marginalised members of the community. Programmes in 2021-22 with other non-governmental organisations are focusing on employment in the resort’s upcycling initiatives such as glass, candle and soap production; supporting local business through the production of honey, virgin coconut oil, sustainable wood, as well as organic chicken farming; and promoting local culture and heritage through traditional craft making activities such as batik workshops.
“Implementing waste management with a circular and holistic approach has provided many new experiences, and our collaboration with local artisans has been very fruitful – it’s gratifying to see so many talented individuals receiving great exposure with our guests. There has been a very positive response to the upcycling craft projects conducted by local communities through various local NGOs,” said Remi Giromella, Pure For The Future pillar leader and Director of Quality Control and Improvement at The Datai Langkawi.
Other initiatives under the Youth For The Future pillar include the development of the Eco-Schools Programme in Langkawi island, designed to inform and engage students in respect and appreciation of nature through education and action on environmental issues. The programme is operated under the umbrella of WWF-Malaysia and has been rolled out by WWF in 74 countries and 59,000 schools around the world. In Malaysia, the programme is supported by the Ministry of Education as well as the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, and run through The Datai Pledge’s NGO partner Green Growth Asia Foundation (GGAF), which aims to champion green projects that drive economic growth through education for sustainable development and social inclusivity. Engagement has already begun with the two schools sponsored by The Datai Pledge.
Pictured (l-r): Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin; Datai Bay; Sea lettuce planted along the bay for nesting turtles
Fish For The Future initiatives include conserving and propagating the coral reefs and marine life in Datai Bay and promoting the practice of sustainable fishing through education and a ‘buyback’ scheme with local fishermen. In 2021, The Datai Langkawi enhanced the natural environment in its coral nursery by cultivating brine shrimp, which are being used to feed the coral. Regular surveys of Datai Bay have already indicated an increase in fish, such as groupers and snappers, along with flourishing corals. The Datai Pledge also extended its partnership with the Department of Fisheries Malaysia (DoF), with the objective of making Datai Bay a Marine Protected Area (MPA).
In 2021, The Datai Pledge team worked hard to regain the bay as a turtle-friendly beach by creating the right conditions, from reducing artificial lighting on the beach; planting trees such as Beach Naupaka, under which turtles prefer to dig their nests; and creating an in-situ hatchery in Datai Bay. In December 2021, the resort recorded its first turtle landing in over 10 years.
The Datai Pledge is working in partnership with MareCet, the only NGO in Malaysia dedicated to marine mammal conservation and protecting their habitats. The resort continues to fund MareCet’s long-running conservation project on Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphins, Indo-Pacific Finless Porpoises and more. The 13-year ongoing study investigates the distribution, abundance, ranging patterns, social structure, behaviours and acoustic ecology of these marine mammals, as well as their interactions with humans. In the past year, MareCet has published six scientific papers in international peer-reviewed scientific journals and engaged an audience of 9,616 through a host of virtual events, lectures and webinars to the scientific community and the general public.
“The collaboration with Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia to conduct a marine survey in our bay was definitely one of the main highlights, as it kick-started many projects in 2021-2022, including rehabilitating our coastline to make it more turtle-friendly,” said Najwa Radzwan, pillar leader for Fish For The Future, and Marine Biologist at The Datai Langkawi.
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 2021-22, as well as replanting 320 trees on the resort’s grounds, The Datai Pledge team collected over 4,361 seedlings, that will be germinated in the resort’s Native Tree Nursery. These include critically endangered species such as genera Garcinia, also known as sap trees; mangosteen or monkey fruit trees; and species of Dipterocarp, tropical lowland rainforest trees endangered by the timber trade. The resort has also begun work on the ‘Corridor for Life’, possibly the world’s first trans-island wildlife corridor. The corridor aims to reconnect pockets of fragmented forest from the east to the west of the island, enabling safe passage of animals, either on-ground or above. Together with a University of Science Malaysia doctorate researcher, a survey of 19 areas resulted in four potential overpass areas being identified. The project includes creating natural canopy bridges and artificial bridges; and post-installation monitoring. Work has already begun, with 30 trees planted to create corridors and strategic road signage introduced to lower the incidence of roadkill caused by speeding vehicles.
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 habitat creation, the programme is also funding specific projects such as community outreach programmes to schools and the development of a fig tree nursery, the preferred food plant of hornbills.
“Important progress was made on our key conservation and regeneration projects. They include: the planning of a world-first, trans-island corridor; the wildlife protection and reforestation project; the expansion of our flourishing Native Tree Nursery; and the initiation of projects to conserve selected endangered species,” said Muhammad Firdaus Dev Abdullah (Dev), pillar leader for Wildlife For The Future, and Manager and Naturalist of The Nature Centre.
Pictured (l-r): A Great Hornbill at The Datai Langkawi; Dev leading a nature exploration activity; and Native Tree Nursery
2021-22 also saw the introduction of many other new pillar initiatives and projects with new partners, enabling The Datai Langkawi to increase the scale and reach of its objectives and ambitious plans going forward. Goals for 2022-23 include continued measuring of carbon stock as part of the resort’s ambition to achieve Carbon Neutral status by 2024, working in collaboration with Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia; securing permission from the Forestry Department of Langkawi, and confirming project funding to implement the next phase of the ‘Corridor for Life’ by 2024; expanding its zero-waste-to-landfill operations by integrating The Els Club Teluk Datai and the staff residence into the project; initiating Monoculture Garden crop activity; increasing in-house production of soap, insect repellent, honey and candles; and increasing the frequency of workshops and visits by local artisans and beneficiaries. There are also plans to implement further coral studies throughout the year and expand the natural in-situ Coral Nursery in Datai Bay, whilst improving the local environmental conditions for sea turtles.
In recognition of its efforts in the framework of The Datai Pledge, The Datai Langkawi has achieved Asean Green Hotel Standard Certification 2020; EarthCheck Silver Certification 2019 & 2021 (the first hotel to achieve this); and the Malaysia Green Hotel Certification 2019.
Notes to Editors:
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ABOUT THE DATAI LANGKAWI
One of the world’s most stunning resorts, The Datai Langkawi, is situated on the northwest tip of the island of Langkawi in Malaysia. Located in an ancient rainforest rich in wildlife and overlooking the tranquil Datai Bay, awarded by National Geographic as one of the Top 10 Beaches worldwide, the iconic property enchants with mesmerising nature, visionary architecture, understated elegance and Malaysian hospitality. All the 121 rooms, villas and suites at The Datai Langkawi, including the five-bedroom The Datai Estate Villa, offer breathtaking views of the surrounding nature. Elevated among treetops, set in the very heart of the rainforest and located directly on the coastline, the dining outlets, which include the award-winning The Gulai House, The Pavilion, The Dining Room and The Beach Club, pay homage to the exotic flavours and culinary traditions of the region and beyond. Bespoke facilities include The Nature Centre, an educational facility and home to resident naturalists and marine biologists, and The Spa featuring Ramuan treatments, its own Akar retail range and Voya facials. Leisure facilities include three pools, a state-of-the-art fitness centre at The Health Club; an array of wellness activities including silat and yoga, retail outlet The Boutique, a reserved space to showcase local arts and talents at The Atelier, as well as one of the most scenic golf courses in the world designed by golf legend Ernie Els, The Els Club Teluk Datai. The resort founded The Datai Pledge in 2019 - a sustainability and conservation trust that supports Langkawi’s unique fauna, flora and communities. All proceeds from The Datai Pledge aid this work and contribute to local non-profit organisations.
The Datai Langkawi is managed by Themed Attractions Resorts & Hotels Sdn Bhd, an investment holding company incorporated to develop, manage and operate hospitality and attraction destinations.
ABOUT THE DATAI PLEDGE
In 2020, The Datai Pledge was established as a Private Trust. It is founded on the belief that travel has the potential to be transformative; not only for the traveller but also for the host community. The Datai Pledge was created on the premise of protecting the biodiversity and supporting the local community of Langkawi, for today and the future. It comprises four pillars: Pure For The Future, Fish For The Future, Wildlife For The Future, and Youth For The Future, working to make the resort’s business operations more sustainable, support marine life, terrestrial wildlife and local youth, respectively. For guests of The Datai Langkawi, The Datai Pledge aims to create educational experiences that inspire and uphold our collective role in responsible living on a wider global level. The Datai Pledge’s vision is to integrate conservation and sustainability into the business operations, company ethos and guest experience of The Datai Langkawi and future properties, in order to protect and help regenerate the rich biodiversity and enable the local community to thrive. The Datai Pledge is working towards this goal through developing a robust programme in conjunction with local NGOs, social enterprises and community partners.
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