Virgin Limited Edition launches mangrove conservation tour for guests on Necker Island to help connect them to the importance of its environment
25 July 2023 – Virgin Limited Edition is encouraging its guests visiting the British Virgin Islands (BVI) to make a lasting contribution by helping to replant critical mangroves during a stay on Necker Island. Known not only for being one of the most famed private islands in the world and Sir Richard Branson’s home, but also for its progressive initiatives in conservation and sustainability, the launch of the mangrove conservation tour is an extension to some of the incredible work on the island that will allow its guests to be further connected with the surrounding environment. The launch coincides with World Mangrove Day (Wednesday 26th July) and aims to raise awareness of the importance of protecting and rehabilitating this crucial ecosystem of the British Virgin Islands.
Necker Island has long held the environment in which it resides at the very centre of its operation. In recent years, the addition of three giant wind turbines to add to its solar farm now ensure the island can run on up to 100% renewable energy, and this goes hand in hand with water irrigation systems, staff uniforms made from recycled ocean plastics, and reef friendly sunscreen, just as a start. Its incredible wildlife conservation programme on island has seen endangered Giant Aldabra Tortoises breeding – the only place outside of their natural environment in the Seychelles, the flamingo population brought back to the BVI and Necker Island’s knowledgeable wildlife and conservation team ensures guests have incredible opportunities to learn about the species and interact with them. Its newly launched Mangrove Tour goes another step further in its conservation efforts with the opportunity to participate in regenerative activity, through planting critically important mangroves.
The experience will be offered to guests in partnership with Unite BVI, the not-for-profit foundation of the Virgin Group, supported by Virgin Limited Edition and Virgin Unite, which focusses on tackling community and environmental changes. The guided tour, operated by local business GroundSea Adventures, reinforces Virgin Limited Edition’s commitment to ensuring that the environment around Necker Island continues to thrive, giving those joining the opportunity to get hands-on with planting mangrove propagules at the HLSCC National Mangrove Nursery on the neighbouring island of Tortola.
Mangroves play a significant role within the ecosystem of the British Virgin Islands, from protecting communities through coastal resilience, to capturing carbon and providing a sheltered home for marine life, such as lobster, jellyfish, and sharks. However, destruction of mangroves from human activity and the damage from Hurricane Irma in 2017, when 90% of the territory’s mangrove population was devastated, has caused significant vulnerability to the BVI’s ecosystem. Since then, Unite BVI, has been working closely with local organisations to raise money for its regeneration. All profits of this new Necker guest experience will go to GroundSea Adventures and Unite BVI, to support projects and mangrove out-planting.
During the guided tour, guests will have the opportunity to either stand-up paddle or kayak, in a single or a double kayak, through indigenous mangroves, learn from an expert guide how the propagules are cultivated and of the work that goes into their rehabilitation and preservation, as well as lending their hand to planting the propagules themselves.
Other purposeful experiences in the pipeline for Necker Island guests include the opportunity to get involved in youth empowerment projects on the island of Tortola, as well as the chance to dive the BVI’s first artificial reef-come-art installation, The Kodiak Queen; the proceeds of which will go towards free swimming lessons in the community.
The mangrove conservation experience costs $165 for adults and $135 for children aged 12 to six. The price includes boat and taxi transfers, a donation to the HLSCC National Mangrove Nursery and out-planting. There is no cost for children aged six and under, however, they are required to share a double kayak with an adult.
Necker Island can be booked exclusively, or individual rooms can be booked during its popular Celebration Weeks. For more information visit www.virginlimitededition.com