The Soneva Group is a world leading luxury resort operator focused on sustainable hospitality. It is made up of Soneva Fushi and Soneva Gili in the Maldives and Soneva Kiri in Thailand. Its head office is in Bangkok, Thailand.
Following its SLOW LIFE philosphy (Sustainable-Local-Organic-Wellnes Learning Inspiring-Fun-Experience) all of Soneva’s resorts have set aside 0.5% of the total revenue to a Social and Environmental Responsibility Fund for community and conservation projects locally and globally while another 2% of the room revenue are dedicate to the Carbon Sense Fund to be invested in projects that combine real reductions in carbon emisisons with deep social benefits.
The charitable organization of the Soneva Group – The Soneva SLOW LIFE Trust – not only raises money for programmes including the Carbon Senses Fund, Clean Water Projects, Care for Children in China and Restaurants Against Hunger, but also teamed up with the Plant a Tree Today (PATT) Foundation in August 2011 to establish a Forest Restoration Project in Northern Thailand.
Soneva recognised the importance of forest restoration projects because deforestation and habitat degradation are significant contributing factors to climate change. Not only can forests remove carbon from the atmosphere and are effective long terms options for carbon sequestration, but if well managed forests can also replace lost habitat to improve biodiversity and provide social economic support for communities.
In collaboration with the Forestry Research & Restoration Unit (FORRU) at Chiang Mai University, Thailand, Soneva’s project was designed around a strict framework for forest restoration which involves the planting of 20 to 30 indigenous tree species selected for their ability to rapidly shade out weeds and attract seed-dispersing wildlife. At the same time birds and mammals, attracted to the plots, help to re-establish a species-rich forest tree community similar to that of the original forest because of the seeds they carry from other forests. Thus, the planted trees restore the forest structure, whilst the animals attracted to them restore its biodiversity.
As a result of Soneva’s comitment to biodiversity conservation and habitat restoration 138,000 trees were planted by PATT Foundation at their first site in Sri Lanna National Park, Chiang Mai, Thailand in 2011. By July 2012, they have already planted 71,000 trees at their second site Nong Hoi, which is part of The Royal Project in Chiang Mai, Thailand. An additional 220,000 trees will follow in 2012 mitigating an estimated 320,000 tons of CO2.
Soneva’s renewed commitment to leading the fight against climate change within the tourism sector highlights that the Soneva Group is not only a world leading luxury resort operator but also that it is a true leader and pioneer who shares the Zeitz Foundation’s drive to support sustainable, ecologically and socially responsible initiatives and who recognizes that collaborative approaches and actions enhance the possibility of achieving a future in which human actions are sustainable and just.