What is Biological Diversity and how can hotels celebrate it?

Biological Diversity or Biodiversity, refers to the variety of different life forms on earth, including animals, plants and microorganisms. As well as being used in relation to the differences within species, such as between different breeds of animals, and relating to the different ecosystems around the world, from desserts to rainforests, and all the life that balances together to thrive within them.

What does this mean for Tourism?

Biodiversity is important for all human life, from the food we eat to the air we breathe. Many destinations rely on their flora and fauna to promote themselves and we all have a part to play in ensuring these ecosystems thrive for years to come, to support local communities, as well as the travellers who visit them.

Why Plastic Matters?

The life cycle of plastic has a huge impact on the environment, from its production, to use, and whether it's incinerated, recycled or sent to landfill, plastic continues to have an impact long after it has been discarded. Where it isn’t disposed of correctly it can injure or be eaten by local animals, or break down into microplastics that can make their way into the food chain. With plastic particles now found from the Arctic to the Galapagos Islands and from remote mountains to the deep sea, reducing unnecessary plastic use is a global challenge.

What can your Hotel can do?

International day for biodiversity is a great time to pledge a new goal, or share your plastic reduction journey with your guests. Alongside communicating your plastic reduction efforts, here are four ideas to celebrate the day, and support biodiversity in your local area

1) Raise Awareness

There's no better time to learn about different flora and fauna than when traveling, travellers are often looking to find out information about the country they are visiting, whether that's the local food, culture, or wildlife. Sharing information with them not only adds value to their experience, but also raises awareness of what species might be in danger. You don’t just have to create a factual display or flyer, why not try something more interactive.

  • Put up images of several different plants and their names in the local language, and ask guests to guess which plant goes with which name.

  • Ask guests to guess which animals are native, or how many animals they can find in an image.

You can tailor this to the needs of your guests, with simple activities for children, or more informative trivia that adults might find interesting.

2) Think about Biodiversity with your Food and Beverage

The products you stock in your bar and restaurant play an important role in either positively or negatively impacting upon biodiversity. This can range from whether you serve local fruits and vegetables, to the type of fish you serve in your restaurant. Why not try to create a special menu for International Biodiversity Day, that showcases local specialities. This PDF in particular has a lot of information to help you inform your decisions.

Did you know that you could contribute to biodiversity protection just by choosing the right wine?

Cork forests are home to a number of endangered species but the increase in synthetic corks and screw top wine bottles even threaten the future of the forests themselves. As the trees don’t need to be cut down in order to be harvested, cork production is much more environmentally friendly.

Ask your supplier to identify which wines are using real cork stoppers and promote this to your guests by highlighting it on the menu.

Don’t forget, once they are removed from the bottle you can collect them to make cork art (especially if your hotel has a children’s club). Not only will you be supporting biodiversity, you’ll be reducing the number of plastic corks you might use and giving real cork a second lease of life. Find out more about cork oak trees and the species they support here.

Another wine company putting biodiversity protection at the heart of its brand is Sea Change Wine, with a range of ethically sourced, environmentally conscious wines that support ocean conservation through direct partnerships with key ocean and marine focused charities. For every bottle sold, a financial donation goes directly to charity partners and bottles are designed to minimise unnecessary waste by removing unnecessary capsule covers, in turn making it easier for bottles to be recycled. Find out more about Sea Change Wine here

One example is to promote wine with original corks made from the bark of the cork oak tree, rather than screw tops, or plastic corks. The oak tree that these corks are made from is severely threatened and as the trees do not need to be cut down to harvest their bark and make the corks, cork production can help to create an increase in demand.

If this is something you are already using it can be a great opportunity to communicate this with guests, otherwise you could try adding a wine to your menu as a special, and share with them why you are promoting this product. Not only will you be supporting biodiversity, you will also be reducing the number of plastic corks you might use. Win, Win.

You can find out more about Cork Oak trees, and the species they support here:

3) Share the issue, and the solution

What impacts negatively upon biodiversity in your local area, what challenges are there, and what species are under threat? Customers are unlikely to be aware of the local issues, but once they are, be sure to share the possible solutions so that they can choose to be part of positive change. If plastic waste is an issue, you could organise a litter pick, if deforestation has threatened local wildlife you could share information about tree planting. Look for local charities or community groups that are already working to protect the local environment, and ask them what steps your business can take. Could you raise funds for them, or invite a spokesperson from the organisation to run a guest talk at your hotel.

4) Souvenirs that support Biodiversity

When visiting new places tourists will often want to take souvenirs as mementos of the trip and to share with their friends and family. If your hotel has a souvenir shop, consider the following:

  • Stock and actively promote products whose purchase enables customers to support the local environment

  • Put together an information sheet that highlights products that support the local environment where customers can easily see it

  • Avoid stocking items whose purchase or transport would be illegal such ivory

  • Avoid items whose purchase drastically contributes to endangering animals and environments such as quills and feathers, skins, furs, and trinkets made from shells - guests often do not realise the negative impacts of such products

  • Avoid mass produced items (often made from or packaged in plastic)

  • Champion local crafts, promote local producers, share their stories and encourage customers to support their work

What other activities is your hotel planning for International day of Biological Diversity? Whether it’s a litter pick or showcasing local souvenirs, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us, or join the conversation on our Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn accounts.

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