The Oscar winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio is not only an A-list celebrity, but also an environmental activist. He is known for his generous donations to environmental and climate research and hopes that he can make a difference and raise public awareness about climate change. One of his latest projects is turning his $1.75 million private island into an eco-friendly Caribbean Resort, Blackadore Caye, located just off the Atlantic coast of Belize with a vision to become the world’s leading example of green hospitality with an aim to restore and revitalize the surrounding ecosystems.
For the last six months, DiCaprio and his team have been gathering feedback from local stakeholders and citizens on the original project design, according to developers. The aim is to make the most of the elements since environmental integrity is a top priority during its construction. The final design reflects the input of the surrounding community on every aspect of the project, including even the removal of overwater structures which garnered great design acclaim but caused concern for just a few local environmentalists.
The design of Blackadore Caye will restore and reinforce the island and its natural ecosystems by replanting mangrove, replacing invasive species with native species, enhancing soil and habitat and creating additional armature for reef and fish breeding, the project will also seek to demonstrate how to stabilize a quickly eroding landscape through ecological shoreline protection. In addition, half of the island has been set aside as a protected wildlife preserve.
“From a materials standpoint, our plan is to source as much local material as possible that support the local economy and minimize emissions,” – Paul Scialla, a partner at Blackadore Development Group.
Blackadore Caye is expected to feature 36 resort bungalows and 36 residential estate homes stretched over the island’s 104 acres. Solar panels will provide 100% renewable energy for the entire resort. The resort’s water needs will be met by collecting and filtering rainwater on-site, together with solar-powered desalinization devices. The island’s infrastructure has been designed under a unique conservation framework developed by top biologists and ecologists who have studied ways to support and preserve the island’s habitat and biodiversity during construction.
Blackadore Caye will be the first luxury resort to adhere to Living Building Challenge standards, the most rigorous sustainability certification for buildings. The exact size of the homes and bungalows has not yet been released, but they are to be highly energy-efficient. They will be designed to capture the ocean breeze and keep out the heat of the sun, to regulate temperature without the need for air-conditioning. Both human and food waste will be treated on-site and composted when possible to improve the island’s topsoil, water will be collected through rainwater and onsite water treatment and all power usage will be sourced from renewable energy.
Certain items and technologies will not be permitted on the island. All recreational vehicles will have to use clean energy, and guests will be forbidden from bringing non-reusable plastic water bottles.The dining experience will be all organic and locally sourced by partnering with local fisherman and farmers to stock the kitchen. Some greens and produce will also be grown hydroponically on the island.
Estate prices are not yet confirmed, and will be determined in the future. It is projected that Blackadore Caye Resort will be fully completed by 2018.
Leonardo DiCaprio recently took on his biggest environmental project to date, starring in National Geographic’s documentary Before the Flood. He hopes that this film will inspire climate action. His own foundation donated $3 million in 2014 to stop over fishing, $3 million to protect tigers in Nepal, and has funded Sala’s initiative to create marine reserves in the Pacific.