Maui Nui Marine Resource Council’s Reef Friendly Landscaping Certification Program announced its first fully accredited resort partner, Four Seasons Resort Lānaʻi. The resort was awarded Gold Certification for its new efforts to manage the property grounds organically.
The Reef Friendly Landscaping Program aims to prevent polluted runoff originating from the use of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides from resorts, golf courses, businesses and residential areas. Research has shown that traditional pesticides, fungicides, and fertilizers can negatively impact marine ecosystems, through coral bleaching and developmental issues in juvenile corals and fish. Additionally, they can cause cancerous growths in sea turtles and other marine life.
Maui Nui Marine Resource Council, in partnership with Duane Sparkman, worked with Robert Woodman, Director of Landscaping at Four Seasons Resort Lānaʻi. Woodman has been leading the landscaping team for seven years, managing 12 densely planted acres of gardens, incorporating a number of native Hawaiian plants. He focused on plants that were less water and labor intensive and those that can thrive in the specific microclimate on Lānaʻi at Hulopoʻe Bay.
MNMRC launched their RFL Certification program in early 2022, and have been assisting the resort with their transition since August of the same year. The program requires properties to stop the use of all pesticides, herbicides and synthetic fertilizers that are harmful to aquatic and marine life, with the opportunity to go one step further and implement 100% organic landscaping.*
The Gold Level requires properties to have at least one member of the landscaping team become an Accredited Organic Landcare Professional through the Northeast Organic Farming Association, and document and report all “emergency use” chemicals in case of a pest infestation or outbreak.
Woodman and the landscaping team were close to achieving 100% organic landcare; the safe removal of select pesticides by Cameron Chemical Corp ensured full compliance for organic landscaping. In addition, the landscaping team has begun composting onsite using their own green waste.
Four Seasons Resort Lānaʻi reports that it is committed to preserving and regenerating the environment and leaving a positive, enduring impact on the local community.
Some of their Environment, Social, and Governance efforts on the property include: elimination of single use plastic bathroom amenities; food waste diverted from landfill and donated to local farmers for agricultural use; water-efficient landscaping and golf course management; waters off the coast have been declared a Marine Reserve to promote resilience in the reef; complimentary reef-friendly sun care products available for guests; botanical preservation to reintroduce awikiwiki, a federally endangered perennial vine, to the area; and the resort has Arboretum Accreditation by the Morton Register of Arboreta, recognizing professional standards and capabilities in a shared purpose to plant and conserve trees and advance goals specific to tree focused public gardens.
“We are committed to building upon Four Seasons’ strong history of supporting our communities and the environment, leaving a positive, long-lasting impact on the storied places where we operate and live,” said Alastair McAlpine, General Manager, Four Seasons Resorts Lāna‘i. He continued, “Protecting Lāna‘i’s native ecosystem and championing ongoing sustainability efforts across our island is an honor as is becoming the first Resort to achieve this accreditation, a true testament to the hard work of our landscaping team.”
“We know that holistic land management isn’t a new idea. This program recognizes and supports properties who are genuinely trying to do the right thing with the resources they have, and we hope other properties will want to do the same; not only for the health of their guests, but the environment as well,” states Jill Wirt, project manager for the RFL program.
The certification program has taken some time to gain traction due to the lack of viable organic alternatives produced locally in Maui County; but with support of Duane Sparkman and other businesses like Environmental Solutions Maui who produce a liquid biological soil amendment that supports soil health, it is becoming easier and more accessible to transition from conventional landscaping to holistic land management.
“I am really excited to see Four Seasons Lānaʻi take on this endeavor to change their resort landscape maintenance practices,” states Duane Sparkman. “Robert Woodman and his team now lead the way in the organic landscape resort maintenance industry. Gold level certification that he and his team have achieved is not only the first one awarded but critical to all life in the Mānele-Hulopoʻe area of Lānaʻi.”
MNMRC looks forward to continuing this partnership and working with more shoreline properties to prevent harmful land-based sources of pollution from entering invaluable nearshore marine ecosystems.
If you would like a free property assessment and recommendations to pursue an RFL Certification, contact email@example.com or visit www.mauireefs.org/what-we-do/reef-
*Emergency Non-Organic Rescue Treatment (from NOFA standards handbook) As one moves forward in a transitional or organic program, it may become necessary to intervene with a product for control of a particular pest if all reasonable efforts within an Organic IPM program have failed. It is acknowledged that from time to time situations present themselves that call for intervening action that normally would not be incorporated into an organic program. It is far preferable to react to pest pressure than it is to preemptively apply even allowed pesticides. When a situation arises that could create economic or unreasonable aesthetic injury an application may be made during or after transition that would allow for the inclusion of a material within the framework of a sound organic program.