Inspiring people travelling to Fiji, Sri Lanka, Barbados and Vanuatu to make positive changes throughout their lives by introducing them to island based responsible travel and sustainable projects with sensitivity to local values and tradition.
When we are personally sourcing or hand choosing new partners we have a really relaxed and grassroots strategy. Just a background reminder to go local whatever I choose to do. The key to this is to make friends. How do I do that? Well, if I told you I'd have to kill you!
Time is money and nobody seems to have any. It takes a little longer than you think but to drop in on a new business to have an informal chat is a brilliant way to test the water. You meet them for who they are, in their comfort zone and if you're lucky you can take natural photos and get a feel for the ambience.
We have stayed on Vanuatu and Barbados for four weeks to do research for you, Sri Lanka for six weeks and Fiji for more than 210 weeks so we know what we are talking about!
In Fiji we work with:
• 7 villages
• 2 accredited eco lodges
• More than 20 traditional village homes stays in four different villages
• 3 locally run lodges
• 1 five star eco resort
• 2 local restaurants
• 8 local drivers
• 6 local guides
• 2 surf teachers
• We buy Fair Trade products from two village but will be adding many more in 2016
In Vanuatu we work with:
• 1 village
• 2 eco lodges
• We buy Fair Trade products from two village but will be adding many more in 2016
In Sri Lanka We work with:
• 3 homestays
• 1 locally run villa
• 3 local restaurants
• 1 local driver
• 1 local guide
• 3 surf teachers
• We don’t yet buy Fair Trade products from Sri Lanka but will be expanding in 2016
In Barbados we work with:
• 3 homestays
• 3 local restaurants
• 1 local driver
• 1 local guide
• 3 surf teachers
OUR PARTNER ISLAND VILLAGES
The way we think
- 10% of proceeds go back into one of three local environmental and community based projects of your choice.
- Every decision we make we prioritise the environment, small local businesses and the culture values of the island.
- Our bottom line is not the dollar sign. Enhancing quality of life through community based projects with sensitivity to local values and tradition is much more rewarding.
- We aim to give inspiring and fulfilling experiences through connecting guests with nature and engaging with local communities.
- We work alongside our partner organisations, local and international experts to support local businesses and communities in marine awareness, sustainable development initiatives and resource management for the good of island ecosystems and the future generations.
- We believe we can help conserve the local environment and provide a steady income for local tourism businesses while inspiring visitors to make a positive difference throughout their lives by introducing them to volunteering in the rich island culture.
How we work
Our ongoing projects you can get involved in
Coral Gardening with Island Spirit in Fiji
Coral Gardening with Island Spirit in Fiji
On all our trips we give you the chance to help us restore coral reefs by planting corals.
Snorkel equipment, gloves and reef shoes are required to collect live but broken coral from the sandy seabed. Once collected and placed in a kayak or similar floating device it is transplanted in secure rock crevices and cracks. It is essential to find areas which the coral root can be plugged firmly into as it can take months for it to take root and the smallest swell can dislodge it.
It has been noted that a coral will 'take hold' in as little as a month and if planted well will has a 90% success rate, conversely, if planted badly there is a 90% death rate.
We coral garden in the shallow reef around northern and eastern Taveuni. The process is simple and effective (if comprehensive training is provided). Whilst gardening it is easy to do damage to living coral with snorkel fins so relatively confident swimmers are needed.
Coral gardening gives reefs a minimum of a 5 year head start to its development or restoration. As it develops the fish populations start to increase rapidly and the whole ocean cycle is enriched. We monitor the reefs and put the developments in our blog.
The latest scientific theory is if a decimated reef is left to its own devices it will take 50 years to establish itself again. Around Taveuni coral gardening has helped the reef re-establish itself in just one year. It is believed that corals send out signals that let other corals know it is safe to live in the area. This image shows an area of the shallow reef which was planted just one month before the photo was taken in late 2011.
We train community members to remove overabundant coral-killing predators and to replant corals broken by careless divers and storms. Healthy coral reefs need clean water low in muddy silt and low in pollution with abundant fish and other animals that in turn keep the corals clean and free of major predator outbreaks.
While coral gardening is useful on degraded reefs, we are very aware that the longer-term solution requires addressing the root causes of decline. Any reef- no matter how healthy, if visited by thousands of tourists annually will decline over time. Coral gardening, if actively applied to such highly-used reefs can help manage the inadvertent damage caused by this.
Fiji hosts some of the most beautiful and diverse reef systems on earth. It is often referred to as the ‘Soft coral capital of the world’. Deep drop-offs, endless hard coral fields and huge channels with strong currents are just some of the underwater landscapes creating a unique experience.
Did you know that two thirds of the earths surface is water and that 80% of life on earth lives in the ocean. For generations coastal communities have depended on coral reefs to supply their primary food source.
Increasing populations in developing countries within which coral reefs often occur, has led to the need for coastal communities to learn about sustainable resource management to ensure the continuation of future harvests.
Billions of dollars are spent each year on recreational fishing trips, hotels, restaurants, and diving tours near reef ecosystems creating livelihoods for an enormous number of people worldwide. Reefs are a natural barrier against waves, storm surge and floods.
There are more species per unit area of coral reef than in any other ecosystem. It is estimated that less than 10% of the Earth’s reef organisms are known to science. Corals may look superficially like plants, but in fact each polyp feeds on passing food parcels floating in the marine plankton.
Coral reefs are being degraded at a rate of 2% a year. About a fifth of the world’s stock has already gone, and nearly half of the remainder is in danger of disappearing within the next 20 years.
There are 109 countries with coral reefs. In 90 of them reefs are being damaged by cruise ship anchors and sewage, by tourists breaking off chunks of coral, and by commercial harvesting for sale to tourists (Earth Portal). Coral reefs are one of our plant’s greatest natural attractions.
Due to their abundance of species and great ecological complexity they are frequently compared to tropical rain forests. But, in terms of sheer abundance of readily observable animal life, even the mighty rain forest takes a back seat.
In the rain forest one must be either lucky or a trained observer to watch many of the animal inhabitants involved in their daily activities. But even a first time snorkeler will be absolutely overwhelmed by the parade of exotic life forms on a coral reef.
World Fair Trade
World Fair Trade
We provide an outlet for women to sell their quality handicraft and so creating income generation for womens groups and small, rural communities.
World Fair Trade handicraft is the focus for Island Spirit Fiji as the first World Fair Trade Organisation Member to trade with any Pacific Island country.
In 2015 we become the first ever organization in the world to work in collaboration with Pacific Island producers to enable access to Fair Trade markets such as Oxfam.
This first time for a Fiji-based company, World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) membership, brings a rare and unique opportunity to women’s groups to sell their produce anywhere in the world through Island Spirit’s merchandising arm: ‘Island Spirit Crafts’.
Island Spirit is the latest addition to the long list of World Fair Trade Organizations throughout the globe. They joined to ensure customers of their commitment to Fair Trade practices and are committed to the WFTO principles.
Particularly unique is the trading relationship they have formed with a few small women’s groups on the outer, more remote island in Fiji - Taveuni. The new product line has started with organic, hand-made yoga mats and will soon expand to include jewellery and other household goods.
Karen Mapusua, Coordinator of the Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community noted the importance of this certification and the fact it is a first for the Pacific Islands: “For Island Spirit to become a World Fair Trade Organisation is a breakthrough for the Pacific. It is not only opening up market opportunities for the women producers in Taveuni it is also paving the way for other Pacific producer groups to enter the WFTO system.”
The still strong practice of weaving 'loga floor mats' for social purposes such as meal time, social events, and relaxing in the mid-day heat led to the idea that those very same durable mats can be made into a smaller version - the yoga mat.
Says founder of Island Spirit, Kirsty Barnby: "Introducing the idea to make their usual mats but smaller wasn't the problem, the women are so incredibly keen to produce - they're understandable really excited about generating their own income. They’re basically being offered a job out of the blue for doing something they've done for years. Maintaining consistency in size is proving a slight challenge because they use an arms length ‘katu’ instead of measuring tape! But I think it's all a matter of practice with the measuring tape!"
Island Spirit will sell Fair Trade products to maximize the use of raw materials from sustainably managed sources. Their Fair Trade ranges are all locally sourced.
The production line uses minimal energy consumption and whenever possible uses solar to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In certain villages which have new solar installations such as the one we recently provided for Vidawa Village, the women can weave at night. It's great for everyone, kids can do their homework, elderly eyes aren’t straining as they drink their traditional root drink 'kava' while playing cards and women can weave away after dark if they choose.
All the current weavers are women located around the 18,000 strong population of Taveuni in Northern Fiji. They are all members of a handicraft co-operative called Taveuni Empowerment for Women which Island Spirit works closely helping with quality management, logistics and financials.
One of the villages, Lavena, takes 1.5 hours by bus to get to from the main town along a bumpy track. It is quite literally at the end of the road which circulates Taveuni. It is so remote the women don't have that many opportunities to better themselves and their families if they want to. The initiative is so important to these groups of hard working ladies. Maria is a weaver in Lavena village: “The alternative income generation gives us choice, choice to spend our own money or even go to weekend or evening workshops - the extra money makes us also feel good, independent and strong”.
Crown of Thorns
Crown of Thorns
Crown of thorns clearance in an applied conservation project which is easy to learn and just takes a little practise to perfect.
Crown-of-thorns are one of the most damaging creatures of tropical coral reefs. They are voracious predators that release the contents of their stomach on to the coral. Digestive juices then liquefy the coral ready for consumption. One Crown-of-thorn can devour 65 sq. ft. of reef per year.
The Crown-of-thorns is the second largest Seastar; the largest is the Sunflower Starfish, it receives its name from the venomous thorns that cover its body. They are endemic to the Red Sea and the Indian and Pacific Ocean and they can be found wherever there are tropical reef systems.
They are almost completely covered in protective venomous spines capable of causing great pain in humans. The most alarming survival mechanism they possess is when they are stressed out; they immediately start their fertilization cycle and simultaneously release a pheromone or chemical hormone that creates a chain reaction with every Crown-of-thorns in the area to trigger their fertilisation mechanisms.
Their venomous spines are not tempting to most predators but there are a few that will take on the Crown-of-thorns. In spite of this, the Giant Triton (a mollusk or snail and the ones that we sometimes use or call a conch which is blown during tiki torch lighting ceremonies). Harlequin Shrimp and some of the larger reef fish like the Humphead Wrasse (rare in Fiji) and sometimes Triggerfish (but they tend to prefer sea urchins as they are easily blown over). No matter how they have appeared an outbreak must be stopped to ensure the survival of the reef.
Achieved So Far
We are constantly clearing the crown f thorns whenever we visit either Beverly Campground in Taveuni. We also clear at the Beach House and other village homestay locations.
It is hard to record the impact of the removal process but our philosophy is 'ever little counts'. We have seen such a devastating coral bleaching epidemic since January 2014 that anything which threatens reef life should be stopped as soon as we can.
Solar lanterns and panels have proven themselves to be the most cost effective and environmentally friendly way to light up villages with no mains electricity in Fiji.
Achieved So Far
1 x solar panel set for Vidawa village hall, Taveuni, Fiji funded by Belmont High School and facilitated by Island Spirit.
20 + D-Light solar lanterns distributed in various villages on Taveuni during every trip we host.
30 + D-Light solar lanterns distributed in various villages on Qamea and Taveuni, funded by Belmont High School and facilitated by Island Spirit.
Fiji – Taveuni and Naigani islands.
WHERE DO PROCEEDS GO?
We don’t own a resort, a car or pay to do media advertising. We go local.
From remote, island camping to yoga, kayaking and hiking adventures with local guides and surfing with stand up paddle boarding and even forest survival, all our trips cater for the open-minded and eco-conscious, independent traveller.
A unique combination of local island knowledge, passion for sustainable travel, and unparalleled island experience provides the foundation for a unique journey.
We are here to help you organise your very own tailor-made, authentic island experience giving you a chance to truly get into the island spirit of one of our four extraordinary destinations.
There is no such thing as a typical escape with us – that isn’t what we are here for. We will enable you to combine your passions whether they be adventure activities, short-term volunteering, cultural immersion, or sustainability projects and responsible travel. We can design your journey to incorporate everything to suit your individual desires and needs.
We give every single one of our travellers the chance to be involved in their own journey more. We believe that the more you give, the more you get rings true! We work closely alongside local villages (in Fiji we work with eight), businesses and guides because we believe responsible tourism is a long term strategy to increase quality of life for both the islanders, the natural environment and resultantly us the travellers!
10% of proceeds go towards our hand chosen, local community projects where they need the help most. These projects benefit the larger community. So there is a direct incentive to both keep the environment healthy and uplift the community. The most important thing is that the people living with wildlife are getting direct benefits from that wildlife.
As a small organisation, with a founder who spreads her time between the destinations, we are able to engage with local communities far more than most travel organisations. This makes the overall benefit to communities and individuals greater as they are a fundamental part of who we are as an organisation.
We aim to give inspiring and fulfilling experiences through connecting guests with nature and engaging with local communities.
10% of the cost of each trip goes back to the community and environmental initiatives.
Island experiences designed to give you the chance to give back a little while on holiday in paradise.
To work alongside our partner organisations, local and international experts to support local businesses and communities in marine awareness, sustainable development initiatives and resource management for the good of island ecosystems and the future generations of Fiji.
To work alongside Fijian communities to share eco tourism skills and carry out sustainable, environmental and community based projects with sensitivity to local values and tradition.
Our goal is also to provide a unique, high quality and authentic experience suitable for a range of eco-conscious individuals.
We believe we can help conserve the local environment and provide a steady income for local tourism businesses while inspiring visitors to make a positive difference throughout their lives by introducing them to volunteering in these rich island cultures.
We are one of a long list of World Fair Trade Organizations throughout the globe. We joined to ensure you of our commitment to Fair Trade practices and commitment to the WFTO principles.
WFTO prescribes 10 Principles that Fair Trade Organizations must follow in their day-to- day work and carries out monitoring to ensure these principles are upheld:
Principle One: Creating Opportunities for Economically Disadvantaged Producers
Poverty reduction through trade forms a key part of the organization’s aims. The organization supports marginalized small producers, whether these are independent family businesses, or grouped in associations or co-operatives. It seeks to enable them to move from income insecurity and poverty to economic self-sufficiency and ownership. The organization has a plan of action to carry this out.
Principle Two: Transparency and Accountability
The organization is transparent in its management and commercial relations. It is accountable to all its stakeholders and respects the sensitivity and confidentiality of commercial information supplied. The organization finds appropriate, participatory ways to involve employees, members and producers in its decision-making processes. It ensures that relevant information is provided to all its trading partners. The communication channels are good and open at all levels of the supply chain.
Principle Three: Fair Trading Practices
The organization trades with concern for the social, economic and environmental well-being of marginalized small producers and does not maximize profit at their expense. It is responsible and professional in meeting its commitments in a timely manner.
Suppliers respect contracts and deliver products on time and to the desired quality and specifications.
Fair Trade buyers, recognizing the financial disadvantages producers and suppliers face, ensure orders are paid on receipt of documents and according to the attached guidelines. For Handicraft FT products, an interest free pre-payment of at least 50 % is made on request. For Food FT products, pre-payment of at least 50% at a reasonable interest is made if requested. Interest rates that the suppliers pay must not be higher than the buyers’ cost of borrowing from third parties. Charging interest is not required.
Where southern Fair Trade suppliers receive a pre payment from buyers, they ensure that this payment is passed on to the producers or farmers who make or grow their Fair Trade products.
Buyers consult with suppliers before canceling or rejecting orders. Where orders are cancelled through no fault of producers or suppliers, adequate compensation is guaranteed for work already done. Suppliers and producers consult with buyers if there is a problem with delivery, and ensure compensation is provided when delivered quantities and qualities do not match those invoiced.
The organization maintains long term relationships based on solidarity, trust and mutual respect that contribute to the promotion and growth of Fair Trade. It maintains effective communication with its trading partners. Parties involved in a trading relationship seek to increase the volume of the trade between them and the value and diversity of their
product offer as a means of growing Fair Trade for the producers in order to increase their incomes. The organization works cooperatively with the other Fair Trade Organizations in country and avoids unfair competition. It avoids duplicating the designs of patterns of other organizations without permission.
Fair Trade recognizes, promotes and protects the cultural identity and traditional skills of small producers as reflected in their craft designs, food products and other related services.
Principle Four: Payment of a Fair Price
A fair price is one that has been mutually agreed by all through dialogue and participation, which provides fair pay to the producers and can also be sustained by the market. Where Fair Trade pricing structures exist, these are used as a minimum. Fair pay means provision of socially acceptable remuneration (in the local context) considered by producers themselves to be fair and which takes into account the principle of equal pay for equal work by women and men. Fair Trade marketing and importing organizations support capacity building as required to producers, to enable them to set a fair price.
Principle Five: Ensuring no Child Labor and Forced Labor
The organization adheres to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and national / local law on the employment of children. The organization ensures that there is no forced labor in its workforce and / or members or homeworkers.
Organizations who buy Fair Trade products from producer groups either directly or through intermediaries ensure that no forced labor is used in production and the producer complies with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and national / local law on the employment of children. Any involvement of children in the production of Fair Trade products (including learning a traditional art or craft) is always disclosed and monitored and does not adversely affect the children’s well-being,security, educational requirements and need for play.
Principle Six: Commitment to Non Discrimination, Gender Equity and Women’s
Economic Empowerment and Freedom of Association
The organization does not discriminate in hiring, remuneration, access to training, promotion, termination or retirement based on race, caste, national origin, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, union membership, political affiliation, HIV/Aids status or age.
The organization has a clear policy and plan to promote gender equality that ensures that women as well as men have the ability to gain access to the resources that they need to be productive and also the ability to influence the wider policy, regulatory, and institutional environment that shapes their livelihoods and lives. Organizational constitutions and by-laws allow for and enable women to become active members of the organization in their own right (where it is a membership based organization), and to take up leadership positions in the governance structure regardless of women’s status in relation to ownership of assets such as land and property. Where women are employed within the organization, even where it is an informal employment situation, they receive equal pay for equal work. The organization recognizes women’s full employment rights and is committed to ensuring that women receive their full statutory employment benefits. The organization takes into account the special health and safety needs of pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers.
The organization respects the right of all employees to form and join trade unions of their choice and to bargain collectively. Where the right to join trade unions and bargain collectively are restricted by law and/or political environment, the organization will enable means of independent and free association and bargaining for employees. The organization ensures that representatives of employees are not subject to discrimination in the workplace.
Principle Seven: Ensuring Good Working Conditions
The organization provides a safe and healthy working environment for employees and / or members. It complies, at a minimum, with national and local laws and ILO conventions on health and safety.
Working hours and conditions for employees and / or members (and any homeworkers) comply with conditions established by national and local laws and ILO conventions.
Fair Trade Organizations are aware of the health and safety conditions in the producer groups they buy from. They seek, on an ongoing basis, to raise awareness of health and safety issues and improve health and safety practices in producer groups.
Principle Eight: Providing Capacity Building
The organization seeks to increase positive developmental impacts for small, marginalized producers through Fair Trade.
The organization develops the skills and capabilities of its own employees or members.
Organizations working directly with small producers develop specific activities to help these producers improve their management skills, production capabilities and access to markets – local / regional / international / Fair Trade and mainstream as appropriate.
Organizations which buy Fair Trade products through Fair Trade intermediaries in the South assist these organizations to develop their capacity to support the marginalized producer groups that they work with.
Principle Nine: Promoting Fair Trade
The organization raises awareness of the aim of Fair Trade and of the need for greater justice in world trade through Fair Trade. It advocates for the objectives and activities of Fair Trade according to the scope of the organization. The organization provides its customers with information about itself, the products it markets, and the producer organizations or members that make or harvest the products. Honest advertising and marketing techniques are always used.
Principle Ten: Respect for the Environment
Organizations which produce Fair Trade products maximize the use of raw materials from sustainably managed sources in their ranges, buying locally when possible. They use production technologies that seek to reduce energy consumption and where possible use renewable energy technologies that minimize greenhouse gas emissions.
They seek to minimize the impact of their waste stream on the environment. Fair Trade agricultural commodity producers minimize their environmental impacts, by using organic or low pesticide use production methods wherever possible.
Buyers and importers of Fair Trade products give priority to buying products made from raw materials that originate from sustainably managed sources, and have the least overall impact on the environment.
All organizations use recycled or easily biodegradable materials for packing to the extent possible, and goods are dispatched by sea wherever possible.
Kirsty Barnby, originally from the UK, lives for most of the year in Fiji where she built Island Spirit to be the globally renowned multi-destination responsible travel organisation it is today.
She did this by making local friends and finding trusted colleagues – something she has replicated in Vanuatu, Barbados, and Sri Lanka. She believes wholeheartedly that it is possible to run a business which benefits local communities, as well as guests and employees – and that is what she has done.
“Call it what you want, a virtuous circle, eco-tourism, a bottom up approach to sustainable business, or simply responsible tourism – it doesn’t matter. What does matter is how it is done, through earth care and people care, and that is what I have dedicated myself to.”
Kirsty has extensive knowledge in the charity communications arena both in Fiji and the UK. She started her time in Fiji volunteering with Partners in Community Development, Fiji (PCDF) for nine months where her time was spent developing the Annual Report, newsletter, PR, communications, training, and the website. This gave her a valuable understanding of development issues and what environmental and community challenges lie at the grassroots level. From there a mixture of continuous work and opportunities lead her to start Island Spirit.
Kirsty started Island Spirit based on a few simple principles: mutual benefit for both the people and visitors in the form of conservation, economics, education, life experience and enjoyment. This is an ethos she has now taken to Vanuatu, Barbados, and Sri Lanka and is a value system that lead Island Spirit to be the first World Fair Trade Organisation to trade in the Pacific Isles.
“The great thing about Island Spirit is that it fulfils both community initiatives and conservation objectives. People are generating direct economic benefits a number of initiatives Island Spirit support, which changes individual livelihoods through jobs and income. There is a direct incentive to both keep the environment healthy. The most important thing is that the people living with wildlife are getting direct benefits from that wildlife.”
- Have a written mission statement and business goals.
To encourage client understanding of sustainable tourism we:
- Provide travellers with a series of travel tips, which relates to their interaction with surrounding natural, cultural and protected areas.
- Provide travellers with pre-departure information packs about the importance of responsible travel and how they can make a difference during their trip.
- Communicate our steps towards sustainable tourism through marketing materials and our website. Our website includes information aimed at helping travellers best prepare for their trips. We include sections focused on ‘respect and community’, ‘value and ideals’, and ‘cultural challenges’; all aimed at enabling our guests to again a real insight into the culture they will be visiting prior to their trip.
- We collect testimonials from as many of our guests as possible. Guests are able to write their feedback directly onto the website. Visitors to our website therefore have access to genuine perspectives from fellow travellers; we do not edit the testimonials left on the website.
3) Supply Chain
To ensure maximum sustainability throughout our supply chain we:
- Ensure we know exactly who all suppliers are for all aspects of our tours.
- Favour locally owned, independent accommodation and suppliers. We also look for eco-consciousness among as suppliers.
- Work with suppliers to encourage and help improve the sustainability of their operations, set targets etc.
- Favour suppliers who demonstrate a commitment towards responsible and sustainable practice. At present Fiji does not have an official regulatory body to ensure that resorts are 100% ‘eco’, however we work hard to ensure that we support responsible businesses. We look for the following aspects to be present within our suppliers’ business models: organic food and products, solar energy, minimising impacts, conservation efforts, efforts to build environmental and cultural awareness, providing positive benefits for both guests and hosts, providing direct financial support to conservation efforts, providing financial benefits and empowerment to local people, raising sensitivity to host countries’ environmental, political and social climate.
- Maintain close and personal relationships with our suppliers. This allows us to accurate assess the progress being made and any areas that need improving.
4) Energy-Climate Management
To move towards zero carbon emissions in our accommodation and/or workplaces we:
- Provide guidelines to guests visiting our accommodations or properties on how to save energy during their visit.
- Train all staff to include energy saving activities in their daily routines.
- Use natural light first where possible.
- Work to balance our business’ carbon emissions by carbon offsetting our business emissions via high quality internationally recognised carbon-offsetting methods.
To minimise carbon emissions from travel and transport we:
- Provide information on our website about flying direct. Not only is flying direct economically beneficial to travellers, it also enables them to reduce the negative environmental implications of their trip.
- Encourage driving in a consistent, fuel-efficient manner, and combine tasks or car-pool. Due to the nature of the areas we operate we travel by minibus during our tours, as this is often the only means of reaching certain locations.
To minimise water usage we:
- All the accommodations that we work with pay close attention to their water usage to help ensure they keep it to a minimum.
- Have guidelines for guests on how to save water – including don’t leave taps running when brushing teeth; take showers not baths; don’t flush unnecessarily.
- Collect rainwater for garden and cleaning use.
- Use grey water recycling.
To carefully handle, reduce, re-use and recycle waste we:
- Compost organic and biodegradable waste.
- Look for alternative means through which to recycle and reuse products and materials. Within the areas of Fiji that we operate there are very limited recycling facilities available. While we utilise any recycling facilities that we have access to, we also aim to identify other ways in which we can help address waste management within these areas. As one example we work with local people on plastic weaving projects.
- Ensure sewage and other waste is disposed of in a responsible manner.
- Run as a paper free operation: electronic communications, no brochures, double sided printing, reuse free sides of paper as draft or scrap pads.
- Provide reusable bottles for tap or filtered water instead of bottled water.
- Avoid disposable or single use items e.g. plastic cups, cutlery, disposable batteries.
8) Ecosystem Preservation
To be proactively involved in caring for the local environment we:
- Communicate with guests and travellers about appropriate behaviour in the natural environment.
- Train guides in appropriate behaviour in natural areas, while also explaining these issues to guests.
- Carefully plan, prepare and tailor our trips to ensure they meet skills, abilities and aspirations of the group specifically.
- Carefully develop our trips to responsibly visit environmentally stressed areas with the purpose of conservation.
- Keep all rubbish including toilet paper with us until it can be properly disposed of.
- Encourage collection of any extra litter seen around.
- Leave what we find, don’t take or purchase any natural ‘souvenirs’.
- Provide cigarette ‘bins’ to customers when on activities or have them available for guests if they are going out exploring on their own.
- Support local environmental and conservation efforts. An important partner of ours is The Ministry of Environment. We work closely with them planting mangroves in areas of risk. We also work with a large number of NGOs and marine experts to help with community development.
- Support the management and protection of natural areas we visit by providing volunteers in these areas, and we obey all local National Park guidelines.
9) Workplace Practices
To ensure our staff are some of the main beneficiaries of our business we:
- Exceed all local and international fair wage legislation.
- Meet all local and international labour standards.
- Maintain up-to date environmental, health and safety, operational permits/licenses and approvals as required by law within the regions where we operate.
- Provide promotion possibilities to all staff.
- Provide on-going staff training.
- Provide regular staff consultation and feedback.
- Ensure that there is always on-site equipment and supplies to deal with medical emergencies, and a first aid trained personnel within the team or first aid training.
- Provide correct and appropriate kit and equipment for the job.
10) Community Impacts
To make sure we benefit the local economy and community as much as possible we:
- Establish good long-term relationships with locally owned suppliers and service providers.
- Pay fair prices for services and products.
- Recommend local and ethical products and services to guests.
- Include local and ethical food stops/shops and other local establishments in any tours/excursions we run.
- Rotate the local establishments that we work in order to spread economic benefits. Home-stays are a key part of our trips. For each homestay we work with the homestay family then chooses another household to do the cooking, this helps ensure that as many local people as possible benefit. They are paid a competitive rate based on local youth hostel room prices. We rotate both the families we work with and the villages we visit in order to spread the benefits as possible.
- Continuously remain on the look out for new avenues for local supply.
- Prioritise employment of local residents (including management positions).
- Provide year round employment and encourage long-term employment wherever possible.
- Ensure we are active in the local community and work in collaboration with them. We are aware of local issues and make sure our operations don’t jeopardise provision of services to the local community.
- Actively support local initiatives for community development including education, health and sanitation. 75% of our profits are fed back into island community and environmental initiatives. These include: Promoting marine conservation in schools, Providing students at The University of the South Pacific Marine and Forestry with valuable work experience, supplying local libraries with books, funding a natural disaster emergency fund, providing women with handicraft training, supporting local business start-ups, providing local island communities with solar lanterns, promoting shark protections, and monitoring Marine Protected Areas (MPA).
- Donate 75% of year-end profits to island communities and environmental initiatives.
To support other ethical practices and local businesses we:
- Reduce food/product miles by choosing local/regional products.
- Avoid buying products made from endangered plants or animals.
- Use ethical banking and insurance companies. Namely the Co-operative.
- Source all perishables from local, and wherever possible organic, suppliers so that our menu is affected by the season.
- Avoid palm oil products.
- Ensure fair trade products are bought where available.
To respect and support local cultures we:
- Provide information to staff and guests on appropriate and responsible behaviour.
- Support local and cultural events in the area? For example do you promote things such as local music, art or community run events to guests.
- Promote and support destination stewardship amongst locals.
- Work with our partners to help develop and strengthen community relationships.
Though we can’t change the ever-fast and rapidly growing influence of modern and western lifestyles, we can however, save and take precautions in conserving tradition and culture with education that will see the young men and women preserve what could be a lost or forgotten culture and delicate environment.
Our overall environmental impact is slow but done thoroughly and with care:
- We specialise in applied conservation, we get things done by taking direction from experts.
- We provide a flow of tourism to mainly areas which are off the beaten track and therefore play an important role in boosting the local economy by increasing income generation.
- We raise awareness of environmental conservation both locally with the communities we work with and internationally with the guests who come on the holidays.
Cyclone Winston Hit Fiji on 20th February, 2016.
We raised money to buy emergency food supplies, seeds, medical and solar lanterns for the remotest villages on these islands after Cyclone Winston which hit on 20th February, 2016.
Reefs were also damaged which have given more need for coral gardening alongside the terrible coral bleaching epidemic we are experiencing world wide.
In March 2010, Cyclone Tomas devastated the two smaller Northern island of Taveuni. Measured at category four, winds reached 170 kmph and waves reached 7.2 metres high – it was the most intense tropical cyclone to hit Fiji since Cyclone Bebe in 1972.
Cyclone Tomas severely damaged the foreshore reef along most of the North West of Taveuni and Vanua Levu, and tragically re-growth of the destroyed reef is barely evident. Loss appears to be about 70%-90%, compared with the elaborate marine structures and aquatic life which used to thrive along these stretches between 1988 – 1995.
Coral is both plant and animal (zooxanthellae and polyp). They live together in the little holes you can see when you pick up dead coral on the beach.
Each hole is surrounded by a skeleton, like a house, which eventually forms the coral structures we see in the ocean. They both live in harmony, (known as a symbiotic relationship) the polyp lives off the zooxanthellae which itself feeds on microscopic food in the water.
The zooxanthellae however needs oxygen and light so it is incredibly important that the water is clear, clean and shallow – which is why coral is so sensitive to pollution.
As the polyp community flourishes, animals develop relationships with one another and such a place can feature a huge variety of ocean life. Although corals feed nocturnally on plankton, sunlight is vital because even though they are animals, each contains millions of single-celled algae.
In 2014 and 2000, a mass coral mortality occurred due to temperature related bleaching. Since then, coral cover has increased, but much more slowly in the Fishing Grounds than the Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Algae cover is higher in the fishing grounds than MPAs, retarding new coral growth by limiting availability of substrate.
You can learn about coral gardening, one of our applied conservation techniques here.
We are committed to balancing the impact of our business’s carbon emissions and that is why we are carbon offsetting our business emissions including our flights via high quality internationally recognised carbon offsetting methods.
During our trips you will plant mangroves and/or hardwood trees on the outer islands of Fiji. However, if you feel you could do more to offset your carbon footprint you can do so here.
All our staff offset their flight carbon footprint by buying credit to plant trees in the South West of the UK.
An example of carbon offsetting:
A flight from the UK to Fiji via South Korea uses 3 metric tonnes of CO2 which can be offset by:
£22.00 towards Clean Energy Portfolio. Your funding supports VCS verified carbon reduction projects around the world which reduce carbon emissions through the displacement of fossil fuels through clean / renewable energy generation.
£27.00 for reforestation in Kenya. Your pledge funds the planting of native broad leaved trees in the Great Rift Valley, Kenya. For each tCO2 one tree is planted and an additional tCO2 is offset through a VCS verified project to guarantee the emission reductions.
£36.00 for UK Tree Planting. Your pledge funds the planting of trees in the UK region of your choice. Supporting wildlife habitats whilst offsetting your carbon emissions. For each tCO2 offset, one tree is planted in the UK and an additional tCO2 is offset through a VCS verified project to guarantee the emission reductions.
£35.33 for Certified Emission Reduction. Your funding supports Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects that have generated CER credits. These projects are fully verified to Kyoto / United Nations standards. CDM projects support sustainable development in developing countries through projects such as Wind Energy, Hydro Power and Biomass.
At present Fiji, Barbados and Sri Lanka don’t have a regulatory body to ensure resorts are 100% ‘eco’. This means anyone can put this small work at the beginning of their resort name and not take any action towards becoming responsible. However, We at Island Spirit work with eco resorts that we feel are progressing towards being 100% eco or self sustainable.
We look for:
- Organic food and products.
- Solar elecricity.
- Conservation efforts.
- Minimizing impact.
- Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect.
- Providing positive experiences for both visitors and hosts.
- Providing direct financial benefits for conservation.
- Providing financial benefits and empowerment for local people.
- Raising sensitivity to host countries’ political, environmental, and social climate.
More information on Vanuatu’s Accreditation Program
The key focus of the program is to highlight the need to set and enforce minimum standards throughout the tourism sector.
As of August 2015, The next part of this development exercise is to develop Vanuatu’s own tourism rating system, a sustainable/eco tourism system develop to encourage the sustainability aspect of the approach to ensure that the social, environment and economical aspect of the activities are considered.
Why village homestays?
We offer optional home stays because they are a great experience, it’s simple. We mean great experience not only for you, the guest, but for the villagers as well.
We have been really careful to make sure everyone benefits equally and all involved have fond memories and positive stories to tell.
We are very close to the communities we work with and would love to talk to you about how we choose our villages, how the money gets distributed and any other questions you may have.
That’s what the kava bowl is for, telling stories and explaining to you what life is about on the islands and of course how Island Spirit works.
Staying in one of our partner villages
You will be welcomed as a visitor but soon feel a part of the village for the hospitality is genuine and so warm. We hope you will have great fun, it is very easy going. Before arriving we will personally tell you all about the rules and cultural values of village life so you feel comfortable.
You have a chance to watch a traditional make (dance), drink kava with the village, play volleyball and help with everyday life if you want! We have chosen to incorporate home stays into our itineraries as they provide mush needed income generation for the village women.
There are a few traditions that we would like our guests to respect while in the village.
How do we choose our villages?
Each house chooses another to supply the cooking so as many families benefit from the initiative as possible. They are paid a competitive rate based on local youth hostel room prices.
Small groups ensure a more fulfilling experience for both the villages and the guests in terms of cultural immersion and bonding. We are more than aware of the extremely different cultures coming together and take it upon ourselves to train and give ongoing advice to our small groups.
*On occasion a larger school ‘aid’ trip takes place and our partners are given plenty of notice to accommodate them.
We know that ecotourism done well can be a powerful tool to support initiatives promoting equatable benefits for local communities and to help strengthen island peoples’ voices in the global tourism industry, fostering their knowledge and heritage through responsible practices.
TIES is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting ecotourism. Founded in 1990, TIES has been in the forefront of the development of ecotourism, providing guidelines and standards, training, technical assistance, research and publications. TIES’ global network of ecotourism professionals and travelers is leading the efforts to make tourism a viable tool for conservation, protection of bio-cultural diversity, and sustainable community development.