Bawah Reserve is a unique resort, where sustainability has been placed first and foremost in the resort’s design, construction, and operation. Our vision is to protect and enhance the environmental value of the islands and surrounding marine environment, empowering and enabling the development of local communities on neighbouring islands.
The islands of Bawah are ecologically important due to the presence of rare and endangered species of flora and fauna on the islands, coral reefs that support a wide variety of marine life, and mangroves between the terrestrial and marine environments. Initial research by arboriculturalists has identified the presence of some trees that are at least 2000 years old, underlining the vital importance of protection and conservation of the islands.
Bawah’s location is remote – there are no other islands closer than around 30 nautical miles. This means that Bawah has an independent ecosystem, with the mangroves playing a key role in stabilising the islands and supporting biodiversity. The creation of the resort enables our guests to experience the beauty of the natural environment, whilst also being given the opportunity to learn about the environmental and social challenges that are present.
The design of Bawah was based on a ‘minimal impact’ approach – only clearing what was needed along the shore of the main island, undertaking works without machinery and using bamboo and other locally sourced natural building materials such as stone that was quarried on the island for making into stairs, paths and foundations. All mirrors, sinks and bathtubs were made on the island using copper recycled from elsewhere in Indonesia. The iconic jetty was constructed over the coral reef that divides the two lagoons. To achieve this without damaging the coral, a team of specialist divers were employed to guide construction. The jetty is not precisely symmetrical, to avoid damaging areas of coral. Moorings were put in place in the lagoon to enable boat users to anchor without damaging the reef.
Water is a highly precious resource in our island ecosystem. Rainwater is collected from the roofs of staff accommodation blocks and other back of house buildings and carefully stored for later use. Drinking water is also created using a desalination plant. This plant removes salt and other impurities from seawater and works using reverse osmosis, microfiltration and nanofiltration. All wastewater is collected and pumped to a series of treatment areas: aerobic, non-aerobic, filtration system including UV, biological pond, and reed bed system. All solid waste generated on the island is sorted and sent for recycling where possible.
The natural forest on the island is rich in biodiversity and contains many species of trees that are considered to be of high conservation value. There is an ongoing reforestation project to irrigate and grow a new forest in areas where the canopy has become depleted. The mangroves are also extremely important in sustaining marine life (acting as a nursery to protect juvenile fish), and supporting the growth of other types of vegetation. The islands provide important nesting beaches for sea turtles such as the Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas), and Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricate), which are vulnerable to predation by both humans and lizards. Recent work overseen by our marine biologists includes relocating turtle eggs to nests in locations where they can be better protected, significantly improving the rate of successful hatching. A range of Bawah branded, locally made ‘reef-friendly’ sun screen and other products are available for guests to purchase on the resort.
Given the global importance of tackling the climate crisis, an area of particular priority for our sustainability programme is energy. The analysis is now being undertaken on the options for generating electricity using solar power. The first phase is expected to begin soon, with the installation of solar panels on the roofs of the back of house buildings.