LANAI CITY, HAWAII—Maui Nui Marine Resource Council’s Reef Friendly Landscaping Certification Program announced Four Seasons Resort Lanai as its first fully accredited resort partner. The resort was awarded Gold Certification for organic landscape management.
The Reef Friendly Landscaping (RFL) Program aims to prevent polluted runoff originating from the use of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides from resorts, golf courses, businesses, and residential areas. Research has shown that traditional pesticides, fungicides, and fertilizers can negatively impact marine ecosystems, through coral bleaching and developmental issues in juvenile corals and fish and can cause cancerous growths in sea turtles and other marine life.
Maui Nui Marine Resource Council (MNMRC) worked with Robert Woodman, Director of Landscaping for Four Seasons Resort Lanai. Woodman has been leading the landscaping team for seven years, managing 12 densely planted acres (5 hectares) of gardens, incorporating several native Hawaiian plants. He focused on plants that were less water and labor intensive and those that can thrive in the specific microclimate around Hulopoe Bay.
MNMRC launched their RFL Certification program in early 2022. The program requires properties to stop the use of all pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers that are harmful to aquatic and marine life, with the opportunity to go one step further and implement 100 percent organic landscaping. Gold Level requires properties must have at least one member of the landscaping team become an Accredited Organic Landcare Professional through the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA), and document and report all “emergency use” chemicals in case of a pest infestation or outbreak.
Composting Initiative Launched
Woodman and the landscaping team were close to achieving 100 percent organic land care; the safe removal of select pesticides by Cameron Chemical Corp ensured full compliance for organic landscaping. In addition, the landscaping team has begun composting onsite using their own green waste.
“We are committed to building upon Four Seasons’ strong history of supporting our communities and the environment, leaving a positive, long-lasting impact on the storied places where we operate and live,” says Alastair McAlpine, General Manager of Four Seasons Resorts Lanai. “Protecting Lanai’s native ecosystem and championing ongoing sustainability efforts across our island is an honor as is becoming the first resort to achieve this accreditation, a true testament to the hard work of our landscaping team.”
Avi Phookan, Resort Manager of Four Seasons Resort Lanai, shares, “Being in an island environment, the protection of our marine ecosystem is a priority, and we are proud to partner with MNMRC in taking steps to reduce human impacts to the ocean and marine life. Our on-property Green Team is instrumental in ensuring the successful implementation of our efforts, including water-efficient landscaping and golf course management, diverted food waste donated to local farmers for agricultural use and employee fundraising and participation in local charitable events, island clean-ups and conservation projects.
Single-Use Plastic Bath Amenities Eliminated
Additional Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) efforts include elimination of single-use plastic bath amenities, coastal waters declared a marine reserve, complimentary reef-friendly sun care products and botanical preservation to reintroduce endangered awikiwiki to the area.
Gold Certification recognition is personally very rewarding to Woodman.
“Every day we are confronted with news regarding the negative impacts of our actions, the loss of habitat that’s pushing wildlife to the edge, but often are left feeling powerless to act,” he said. “Individually, we cannot save the planet, but we can effect changes within our own spheres of influence and our combined efforts can make a difference. By changing how we cultivate our landscape and adopting organic strategies we protect the environment around us including our marine sanctuary. Ultimately, our role as landscapers is to serve as guardians for the land and practice malama ai Lanai (taking care of Lanai). I hope our actions inspire others to adopt similar protocols in organic land care management as it’s not just the land that benefits but the oceans too.”
The resort has Arboretum Accreditation by the Morton Register of Arboreta, recognizing professional standards and capabilities in a shared purpose to plant and conserve trees and advance goals specific to tree-focused public gardens. Guests can explore the online plant encyclopedia and stroll along the paths with an online map or reserve a complimentary garden tour with Robert Woodman for a more personal overview.