No Maldives holiday is complete without an exploration of life under the water – the abundance of colourful fish and coral allow for an escape and respite from our own urban reality. In fact, along with discovering its famed romantic side, snorkelling and diving are two of the best reasons to visit this beautiful country. It’s reassuring, then, that the environmental and social initiatives of luxury accommodation group Banyan Tree include more than 20 years of conservation work in the Maldives. Group Director KATIEROBERTSvisits theMaldives to see how conservationists at Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru and its sister resort Angsana Velavaru are taking steps to protect the stunning coral reefs from the impact of climate change.

of Conservation, Dr Steve Newman, says there are few places in the world that are as dependent on their environment, so Banyan Tree’s trailblazing work has been crucial. “We started out with marine biologists who were educating and guiding guests, and planting corals – and that’s since become the norm in the Maldives. Now it’s widely accepted that any new resort should hiremarine biologists,” he says. “Without the pristine environment, people wouldn’t come here. Everything is here because of the coral reefs – they make the islands.” The seventh-largest reef network in the world includes 26 atolls (ring-shaped coral reefs) and 1,192 islands – just 200 of which are inhabited. Among the latter are stunning Velavaru and Vabbinfaru, home to two of the resort group’s Maldivian properties. The latter is where I meet Steve, at Banyan Tree’s Marine Conservation Lab. Nearby is a tank of very cute month-old green sea turtles – recently hatched from protected nests, and in the process of being lovingly reared for up to 24 months. The turtles are part of a



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