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Laamu Atoll is Designated as a Mission Blue Hope Spot

by Ruby Amir

03 November 2021, MVT 13:35
Laamu Atoll is Designated as a Mission Blue Hope Spot Image curtesy Six Senses Laamu Maldives
Laamu Atoll is Designated as a Mission Blue Hope Spot Image curtesy Six Senses Laamu Maldives
03 November 2021, MVT 13:35

‘One Hope Spot at a time, we are creating a true network of hope’ - Dr Sylvia Earle, American marine biologist, oceanographer, explorer, author, and lecturer.

Calling all-island castaways is Six Senses Laamu, one of the finer addresses in eco-rich Laamu Atoll. Offering luxurious intimacy set upon a naturally diverse island, emitting tropical sublimity from all corners, Six Senses is beautifully stimulating.October 28th, 2021, where respective councils gathered along with the NGOs involved in the sustainability programs, Laamu was designated as one of the Earth’s Hope Spots by the international non-profit organization, Mission Blue founded by Dr Sylvia Earle.

Hope Spots are identified around the globe by the scientific council of Mission Blue, as being areas which are vital to the health of the oceans. To be appraised as a Hope Spot the site should hold significant ecological, economic and cultural importance, thus having the ability to reverse damage from consequential human footprints. The event was one of hope, with Laamu Atoll checking off all the criteria after being vetted to be declared a site that is evident of the highest preservation.

The classification of Laamu Atoll as a Hope Spot was made possible by the numerous research projects conducted by the Maldives Underwater Initiative and respective partner NGOs - the Manta Trust, Blue Marine Foundation and the Olive Ridley Project. The Maldives Archipelago was appraised as a Hope Spot by Mission Blue in 2013 to shed light on the island nation’s prolific marine biodiversity and its fragility in the wake of the climate emergency.

“By declaring Laamu Atoll as its own, smaller Hope Spot within the Maldives, we have the opportunity to lead and inspire the nation in the realms of local marine protection,” explains Adam Tholhath, Sustainability and Community Outreach Manager at Six Senses Laamu and winner of Stelliers Sustainable Hotelier of the Year 2020.

Global sensibility, local sensitivity

The Six Senses brand is steered by emotional connectivity, with the support of the local communities through active demonstrations of operational sustainability. Local inclusivity is the norm of the brand with fresh produce sourced from neighbouring islands, benefiting the local economies, as well as numerous education and outreach projects for the communities; Six Senses Laamu’s sustainability fund is available to finically support local projects which directly contribute to sustainable development.

Maldives Underwater Initiative

The Maldives Underwater Initiative (MUI) by Six Senses Laamu is a marine conservation initiative earning several accolades for its progressive work in sustainability. MUI’s community outreach programs have persisted even with the ongoing pandemic, by conducting online courses to educate the youth on marine biology as part of the annual Laamafaru festival. MUI’s sole purpose is to give back to nature in profound ways, to make a positive impact to the ecological diversity of the islands for generations to come.

“Unlike other atolls in the Maldives, Laamu has very few reef passes, leading from the outside to the inside of the atoll,” says Philippa Roe, MUI’s Head Marine Biologist. “These areas are home to healthy populations of critically endangered and endangered species such as napoleon wrasse, grey reef sharks, mantas and green and hawksbill turtles just to name a few.”

A majority of Six Senses Laamu’s sustainability funds in 2020 was invested in expanding MUI’s research, education and community projects along with partner NGOs - Manta Trust, Blue Marine Foundation and Olive Ridley Project.

The Manta Trust

Through a combination of its three fundamental pillars of research, education and collaboration, the Manta Trust is on a quest to conserve mobuild rays, their relatives and their habitats. Six Senses Laamu is a long-standing partner of the Manta Trust with the joint goal of preserving and observing the charismatic, gentle Manta rays of Laamu Atoll.

In 2020, 378 manta rays were seen in Laamu by the Manta Trust . Three new manta rays were identified, including 2 pups, bringing the local database to more than 135 mantas.

Blue Marine Foundation

BLUE’s objective with extensive research underway is to restore coral reefs as climate resilient ecosystems for the benefit of nature and its dependent inhabitants.

In 2019, BLUE kicked off the #ProtectMaldivesSeagrass social media campaign, with Six Senses Laamu, to call on resorts to stop removing the seagrasses around their resort island to make clear lagoons for their guests. Three months after the campaign was launched, a quarter of the Maldivian resorts committed to the preservation of approximately 830,000m2 of seagrass across the nation.

In 2020, the ’Laamaseelu Masveriya’ program was launched by BLUE at Six Senses Laamu. This code of conduct ensures local reef fishing, and purchasing of fish by the resort, is done in a sustainable manner, with rules to follow for the entire process.

The Olive Ridley Project

The Olive Ridley Project came to fruition with the objective to protect the beloved sea turtles and their habitats through rescue and rehabilitation, education and outreach, and scientific research. Under the top 10 impacts of 2020, 63 new turtles were identified by the Olive Ridley Project in Laamu Atoll. 346 hatchlings also started their lives on Six Senses Laamu.

Laamu Atoll stands proud in the visibility its being given as a pristine Hope Spot that can be preserved for the benefits of future generations to come. “Our mission has always been to leave a legacy in the Maldives, to leave this beautiful and unique part of the country better than how we found it,” says Marteyne van Well, the resort’s General Manager. “Today we make a significant step towards achieving this goal.” MUI’s application to be designated a Hope Spot along with its partner NGOs provided evidential insight to the ecological importance of Laamu Atoll.

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