Launched in 2007, Banyan Tree Bintan’s Conservation Lab has been spearheading efforts to bring sustainable practices to local communities. Henry Singer, the Bandung-born environmental naturalist who oversees the facility, shares a few surprising facts about the Indonesian island and the nature of his work.
EQUATORIAL GEM Bintan is a very beautiful island. Apart from white-sand beaches, you can also see large areas of mangroves teeming with wildlife, including five species of kingfisher. The forests are home to banded leaf monkeys and mouse deer.
TURNING TURTLE Because of all the foreign guests I meet, I also feel like an ambassador for promoting Indonesia’s natural beauty. Here on Bintan, there are many ways to see that up close, from bird-watching to coral planting to witnessing sea turtle releases. One of our initiatives has protected more than 2,700 turtle hatchlings with the help of fishermen and the local marine and fisheries agency.
GRASS ROOTS Since the Lab was established, we’ve conducted biodiversity studies both on land and underwater around the Banyan Tree and Angsana resorts. Together with islanders and government officials, we’ve also planted more than 55,000 trees and mangrove saplings to re-green damaged areas on the island. Conservation work requires passion and patience, but it’s also incredibly rewarding.
This article originally appeared in the December 2016/January 2017 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Branching Out”).