Our Echo-Policies and Credentials
Bird Island Lodge is proud to be an environmentally and socially responsible tourism operation. As a closed island environment, we are able to say that we alone are responsible for the protection, preservation and enhancement of Bird Island and its surrounding reef and waters through sustainable management practices.
The hotel buildings were built using local products where possible (Seychelles does not have a big manufacturing industry and needs to import many goods) and using local labour. They were built in amongst the gardens of the island and have an open air design so as to avoid the need for air conditioning.
All hot water is produced by dual solar panels for every 2 chalets. We have recently installed two new and very efficient generators to provide electricity for the whole island, which has reduced our fuel usage enormously. We have no outdoor lighting and provide clients with battery-free torches to use to get to the bar and restaurant at night. We do not have any air conditioning, fridges, televisions etc in the rooms and so the power usage per chalet is kept to a minimum of lighting only.
Bird Island has been a family business for over 35 years. It has always been run on ecological principles and has always run conservation programmes for various aspects of its wildlife since the early 1970's. Currently we are focusing on programmes to monitor and protect the Sooty Terns, which breed on the island in their millions during May-Sept, the Green and Hawksbill Turtles, which also come to the island to lay their eggs, the long tailed white tropic bird, which nests on the ground next to trees, the newly introduced Seychelles sunbirds, which we trans-located from the main island in February 2006, weather monitoring and plenty of other programmes. We have guests coming to help volunteer with our turtle monitoring project during the Hawksbill season and we run nature tours on the island at least 4 times a week with our resident conservation officer, Robby. As well as this, we often take research students for a week or more on the island on the basis that they get free accommodation in return for a final copy of their study.
We have a farm on the island and try to grow as many fresh vegetables as possible for the restaurant. We produce spring onions, cucumber, tomatoes, lettuce, pak choi, pumpkin, aubergine, chillies, herbs, papaya, coconut etc. The farm is watered using rainwater collected from the buildings at the farm. We also serve a lot of fish, as it is the staple island food and as it is caught locally by our fisherman. We also have a composting system in place so that no peelings are wasted from the kitchen and the food waste is fed to the pigs. We collect rain water from several roofs for drinking water and treat it using UV light.
We have had a policy for over 35 years to only employ local staff. As we are an island destination, our staff live and work on the island. We provide free accommodation and food and staff with children are allowed to keep their children living with them until the law regulates that they must be educated on the main island. We have a policy of allowing the older children up to the island for weekends and holidays when there is space available on the aircraft and we do not charge our staff for this. We also have a policy whereby we will offer our staff monetary loans if they want to build a house for themselves on the main island and we do not charge them interest. The working population on the island operates as a small community and we have a very paternalistic approach to ensuring their welfare. We are the only private island in the Seychelles to actively maintain a low local rate for Seychellois to come up to the island and experience a different part of their country. We also actively involve our staff in our conservation projects and our conservation officer is responsible for educating new members of staff about their surroundings and the work that we do on the island to conserve this habitat. Our nature tour also contains elements of cultural interest for clients - discussing the medicinal uses of island plants, folk law, traditional methods of land management and fishing etc.
- Since 1967 management of vegetation in the Sooty Tern breeding area has increased the colony size from c.18,000 pairs in the 1960s to c.750,000 pairs today.
- Support for research on Sooty Tern biology in relation to egg harvest that commenced in 1972; and continued support for the extension of this work from 1993 to the present.
- Cessation of turtle harvesting on the island has led to Bird Island hosting good populations of both Green and Hawksbill Turtles, and this is now backed by support for tagging of female turtles that come ashore to lay, and monitoring of the success of nests as part of a wider turtle monitoring programme in the Seychelles.
- Eradication of rats and rabbits, both accidentally introduced, has led to an increase in the populations of Brown Noddies, which now nest on the ground, and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and White-tailed Tropicbirds.
- Support for a PhD study of the relative success of tree and ground-nesting Common Noddies.
- Support to Nature Seychelles (Birdlife partner in Seychelles) to monitor all species of seabird breeding on Bird Island.
- Support to visiting scientists investigating the island's geography, flora and marine life.
- Maintenance of an education programme for visitors to the island, including nature walks given by a trained member of the hotel staff and a display of posters in the restaurant building, that explain research and monitoring programmes on the island.
- The setting up and maintenance of a small weather station, which provides regular information for the Seychelles Meteorological Office.
- 1994 Bird Island was runner up in the British Airways "Tourism for Tomorrow Award".
- Sir David Attenborough visited the island along with a BBC film crew to film the Sooty Tern Colony for two episodes of the series The Life of Birds. The colony appears in ‘The demands of the egg’ and ‘The problems of parenthood’, broadcast in 1998 and 1999.
- 2003 Bird Island won a Green Planet Award for Environmental Management and Good Practice.
- 2005 Bird Island won another Green Planet Award for Environmental Management and Good Practice.
- 2005 The Bird Island staff were collectively named as Birdwatcher of the Year by the Seychelles Birds Committee.
- 2005 Bird Island was runner up in the best hotel category for the Responsible Travel awards presented at the World Travel Market in London in November 2005. We were the only property in the Seychelles to be nominated.
- 2006 Bird Island named as the 7th best destination to travel to in the world for ‘genuine’ eco-tourism by the BBC Wildlife Magazine.
- 2006 Introduced a breeding population of the Seychelles Sunbird to the island from the main island of Mahé.