For Bart and the team, developing a sustainable and eco-friendly lodge is the core of our vision for The Island. That’s why the initial phase of the build prioritises the development of solar power and water treatment systems that will make the lodge low-impact and eco-friendly. We’ll be installing a comprehensive solar power system, thermodynamic geysers and a biorock water treatment plant sourced from our friends at The Solar Zone. But that’s just the start. For us the term “eco-lodge” means much more than green energy and water. It is a holistic vision that involves protecting the unique and vulnerable island ecosystem and supporting the local community and their cultural heritage.
However, with so many camps referring to themselves as “eco-lodges”, it is not easy for visitors to know what this means in real terms. This is why we are aiming to become a certified sustainable tourism operation. Unlike neighbouring Botswana, Zambia does not yet have its own national ecotourism certification scheme. We will be selecting one of the international schemes that have adopted the criteria developed by The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC). These were created in an effort by 27 organisations to come to a common understanding of sustainable tourism. We’d be interested to know if you have any experience of the various international schemes – let us know via social media.
Education and research are at the core of this eco-vision, as we aim to make the Island a living research and education programme. Projects will include wildlife monitoring, nest box and underwater cameras, river monitoring, sustainable agricultural projects, beekeeping and community education. We hope that Islanders may get involved in these projects – from sharing existing skills to learning new ones, we are excited that eco and community involvement could be one of the highlights of a stay on The Island. With this commitment to sustainable practice, we hope that The Island can be much more than an eco-lodge, that it can be part of the process to make sustainability the standard practice in all forms of tourism.