Banyan Tree Labs


Our approach to safeguarding the natural environment resulted in the launch of the first resort based research facility in the Maldives at Vabbinfaru in 2003.

Starting in Vabbinfaru, Maldives

When the Banyan Tree Maldives Marine Lab (above) officially opened its doors in early 2004, it became the first resort-based facility in the Maldives.

Serving both Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru and Angsana Ihuru, the Marine Lab was designed to provide basic facilities and equipment for important fieldwork conducted by visiting expert scientists, as well as to share the necessity of marine conservation and sustainable livelihoods with local communities.

Since inception, the Lab has grown to carry the banner for Banyan Tree’s sustainability efforts in the region, from hosting visiting experts, to sharing the message of marine conservation with local schools and communities, to promoting and test piloting sustainable livelihood options for communities.

Expansion in Maldives… and beyond

Due to the success in contributing to both the scientific body of knowledge, as well as the community’s understanding of the importance of environmental conservation, this model was recreated in 2006 with the opening of the Banyan Tree Maldives Marine Lab, Velavaru (right) to support Angsana Velavaru and then again to the Indonesian island of Bintan in 2007 (below).

Supported by trained biologists, Banyan Tree labs were established to support environmental research, conservation, restoration, and awareness.

Our Conservation strategy frames conservation efforts for key habitats or priority species within the key global environmental issues of climate change, changing land use, overexploitation, and invasive species.

This adaptive framework can be implemented in any environment to identify and address key conservation issues, and engage with stakeholders. This approach will be implemented elsewhere in the future.


ANMVVE_0704_Facilities_Dive Centre03
Marine Lab03

Citizen Science 01

– Environmental Monitoring –

Annual monitoring of coral reefs has been conducted for 3 years in Maldives (18 sites) and 5 years in Bintan (3 sites). Data contribute to the National Coral Reef Monitoring Framework in the Maldives, for which we also collaborate as technical advisors, and the National COREMAP project in Indonesia.

Case Study: Following our pledge in 2016 to support the establishment of the Maldives as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, in 2017 we collaborated with the Ministry of Environment and Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, the Marine Research Centre and the IUCN, providing technical guidance, training and assistance monitoring coral reefs for the Biosphere assessment.


– Citizen Science –

Citizen science offers the opportunity for people from all walks of life to engage, learn, and support conservation by collecting easy and fun data. Citizen scientists are helping understand long term change in marine megafauna populations following nationwide protection in the Maldives, as well as bird populations and migrations with changing climate and land use in Bintan.

Supported by both Banyan Tree Bintan and Angsana Bintan, the Bintan Conservation Lab seeks to raise international awareness of the importance of Indonesia’s biodiversity, which is at risk due to unsustainable development practices causing habitat destruction.



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Shark Sightings


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Bird Sightings


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– Conservation Projects –

– Turtle Conservation –

Turtle care

Eleven properties had awareness, hatchling releases, hatchery or head-start programmes in 2017, including. Our head-starting programme in the Maldives ended in 2017, with turtles now protected under the Environmental Protection Agency. Operational since 2001, this programme raised and released 237 green sea turtles.

– Shark Conservation –

Shark conservation - screen shot of tiger shark

Lack of data hinders assessment of the efficacy and benefits of shark sanctuaries such as the Maldives. A cost effective long-term monitoring programme is in its third year, contributing to the National Plan of Action for Shark management in the Maldives.

– Environmental Awareness –

Citizen science 03

Awareness and education are the cornerstone to environmental conservation and the first step towards effective stewardship. Education programs have been implemented through presentations, guest lectures, ecotours, walks and snorkels to connect people to the local environment and increase awareness.

Guest talk 01
Coral planting 03
Snorkel 01
18. Buk Claire Group Ranger Trail

Participants in 2017






– Clean –

In 1992, Banyan Tree remediated a tin mine site in Phuket, leading to the development of Laguna Phuket. This philosophy continues to this day, as we strive to remediate and cleanse natural communities with a target of four externally beneficial efforts per property per year. This is further supported by our stay for good annual cleaning initiatives. Participation in 2017 was higher due to Mayakoba joining International Coastal Clean-up day with 5,500 community participants collecting 5,000kg of trash, but overall amount collected lower with 22 clean up events not recording weight.

Properties Participated


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Trash Removed


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Reef clean 03 (cropped)

– Protect –

After coral bleaching, Crown of Thorns Starfish (COTS) are one of the biggest threats to Indo-Pacific coral reefs. Weekly control efforts have helped mitigate a recent outbreak in the Maldives and contributed towards protecting important coral reef ecosystems. An outbreak occurred in 2015, hence higher numbers from less effort. This is now largely under control locally following these efforts, plus reduced coral cover following bleaching in 2016.

COTS Removed


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km's Reef Searched


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Electric Reef 04 - scubazoo

– Restore –

Restoration efforts include restocking fish and aquatic life (Fuxian Lake and Samui) and transplanting corals (Maldives, Bintan). Introduction of whitebait fish in Fuxian Lake led to declines in endemic species. In 2017, 360 crucian carp were released to assist endemic populations and raise awareness of invasive species.

Coral reef restoration efforts have been supported by the establishment of coral nurseries at three resorts in the Maldives, and creation of artificial reefs that use electricity to create “biorock” in collaboration with academic experts. Coral restoration efforts were largely on hold in the Maldives since 2016 due to the coral bleaching reducing transplanted survival.

Corals Restored


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