Conservation and the Environment

Sustainability Management Plan & Environmental Policy

At all levels of operation, Turneffe Flats pursues the highest level of service for our guests while attempting to minimize our impact on the environment. This has been done by establishing policies and procedures to manage our business sustainably.  

Our core values include reduction of energy usage, prevention of pollution and conservation of our natural resources. We feel that this can best be accomplished through cooperation with all Turneffe Atoll stakeholders and through our support of the Turneffe community.

Over the past 30 years, Turneffe Flats has been the leader of many conservation efforts related to Turneffe Atoll with some of our efforts are listed below. 

2002 -
Became a Charter Member of 1% for the Planet and committed to donating 1% of  all revenues to conservation efforts.  To date Turneffe Flats has donated nearly $250,000 to Turneffe-related conservation efforts.

2003 - Formed Turneffe Atoll Trust, a 501 (C)(3) conservation organization registered in the United and Belize.  The mission of Turneffe Atoll Trust is.. to crive conservation and other efforts leading to a healthy ecosystem at Turneffe Atoll  supporting sustainable social and economic benefits for Belize and serving as a model for similar coastal marine environments throughout the world.
  • To date Turneffe Atoll Trust has contributed nearly one-half million dollars towards this  mission with key successes being the passage of legislation mandating catch and release  fishing for bonefish, permit and tarpon in Belize, a law which is now being emulated by other countries.  Turneffe Atoll Trust was also the primary funder for efforts to establish Turneffe Atoll as Belize's largest Marine Reserve, which became a reality in November, 2012.
  • 2003 - Chaired the Turneffe Islands Coastal Advisory Committee which drafted Turneffe    Atoll Development Guidelines for Belize's Coastal Zone Institute and Authority.
  • 2009 - Chaired the reorganized Coastal Advisory Committee to update the Turneffe Atoll  Sustainability Guidelines for the Coastal Zone Institute and Authority.
  • 2009 to 2012 - Led efforts to establish the Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve, a process which included nearly 10,000 man-hours of consultation among Turneffe Stakeholders and the     drafting of a 300 page Sustainable Management Plan for the Reserve.
  • 2013 - Currently chair the Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association which has been designated to Co-manage the Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve.

    Please visit the Turneffe Atoll Trust website at to see details of the sustainable management plan for Turneffe Atoll.
This plan is a comprehensive Sustainable Management Plan for Turneffe Flats Resort. It is reviewed yearly to ensure compliance with Green Globe Certification Standards and to ensure that we are continually decreasing our environmental impacts and improving our level of sustainability. These concepts have been integrated throughout our company with all departments working together toward this end.

Turneffe Flats is an activity-based resort with nearly all guests staying with us enjoying ecology based tourism activities. Turneffe Flats guest services will continue to focus on low-impact, environmentally sustainable guest activities. Our primary guest activities include catch-and-release sport fishing, low impact Scuba diving and a marine eco-tour program designated as our Atoll Adventure.

We insist upon catch and release sport fishing believing that this is the only way to maintain a sustainable sport fishery. Our Scuba diving program emphasizes eco-friendly diving with a strict no-touch policy related to the reef as well as ongoing education about reef ecology and the threatened nature of our reefs. Likewise, our Atoll Adventure emphasizes nature education and low-impact activities seeking to educate our guests about the marine ecology while they enjoy their activities.

We will continue to provide complimentary trips to conservation organizations and continue to support local NGO’s that support sustainable ecological practices in Belize. In particular, we will continue to be the primary supporter of Turneffe Atoll Trust whose mission is to see that the Turneffe Atoll is managed sustainably for the economic, social and environmental advantage of Belize.

                                Sustainable Business Plan
                                                            Customer Satisfaction
                                                            Business Relationships
                                                            Legal Compliance
                                                            Handicapped Access
                                                            Food Choices
                                                Sustainable Environmental Plan
                                                            Water Management
                                                            Waste Management
                                                            Land Use
                                                            Energy Management
                                                Sustainable Social & Cultural Plan
                                                            Local Employment
                                                            Employee Training
                                                            Community Development
                                                            Health and Safety

Sustainable Business Plan

Customer Satisfaction – Customer satisfaction is our top priority which we monitor closely. Daily management meetings are used to identify and resolve any potential guest issues. Shortly after guests depart, they are emailed a detailed Welcome Home Survey to provide us feedback on all aspects of our service. This information is monitored closely and reviewed with departments as is pertinent.

We feel that a good vacation should not only be enjoyable but also educational and we seek to inform all of our guests about the coastal marine environment and the conservation challenges facing the Turneffe Atoll.

Business Relationships - Turneffe Flats seeks to do business with like-minded organizations that also have an eco-friendly perspective. This applies to booking agents as well as suppliers who have been asked to supply our goods in an environmentally friendly manner. 

Legal Compliance - Turneffe Flats complies with all legal and licensing requirements in Belize and supports the establishment of Best Practice Standards for the newly formed Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve.

Communications – Turneffe Flats makes a substantial effort to communicate Turneffe’s conservation and sustainability issues to our guests. This is done through a myriad of written and verbal communications which are distributed to our guests in a welcome packet upon arrival. 
Handicapped Access – For a number of reasons, our buildings are elevated with access requiring stairways. We have easily addressed handicapped access in the past by offering people in need the additional individual help they require. This has worked very satisfactorily with many persons with disabilities, including those brought by Healing Waters, enjoying their stays with us.

Language – Belize is an English speaking country and the primary language spoken at Turneffe Flats is therefore English. We have several bilingual employees and can easily accommodate Spanish speaking clients.

Food Choices – Our meals are served family style and include a variety of continental and Belizean meals. We readily provide special meals at clients request including vegetarian and vegan alternatives as well as gluten free alternatives.

Sustainable Environmental Plan

Water Usage- Rain water is our primary source of fresh water. Our water usage is closely monitored and rain water collection systems are continually upgraded to maximize rain water collection. The quality and safety of our water supply is also closely monitored with weekly checks to maintain safe drinking water standards.  Guests are asked to conserve water through non-offensive written notifications.
Our gray water is utilized for watering plants and we will seek to improve the recycling of this water to allow additional uses.  
Our toilets are serviced with brackish water from a shallow well to further minimize our fresh water utilizations. Low flush toilets have been installed in the majority of guest rooms. We have added bulk laundry facilities and utilize policies that minimize our water consumption for laundry. 

Waste Management - Waste management and recycling are a priority. All feasible materials are composted including kitchen waste and shredded paper from our office. We continually monitor and improve our composting processes looking to maximize composting operations. 
We purchase all soda and beer in returnable bottles and do not purchase plastic bottled water. Other management measures include grinding all glass into small chips which are then used as a base for poured concrete, burning all combustible materials and compacting all other trash which is then removed from the atoll by boat. In the end, no trash is left on the island.  
Our fuel is safely contained with a fuel spill containment area and all fuel products are stored within this compound including used oil and fuel filters.

Landscaping – At the turn of the 20th Century,  the area where Turneffe Flats was built was a coconut plantation. Over the past 10 years, we have emphasized the planting of native plants including  the replanting of littoral forest species which presumably originally covered our property. 
With our garden/greenhouse, we will continue to utilize our compost and grow our own vegetables.

Energy – Turneffe Flats is “off grid” and totally dependent upon our own power sources. We primarily operate our resort with diesel generators and continually monitor our loads to minimize our power needs and use of fuel. We have installed low energy fluorescent lights throughout our property with motions sensors where applicable. Pathways are lit with low-voltage systems or solar lights and smart thermostats are utilized where appropriate. Guest air conditioners are turned off when not in use. We have installed a state-of-the-art remote monitoring system to monitor our power usage and generator function allowing us to utilize the smallest appropriate generator at all times. 

We have looked extensively at renewable energy options with a recent 50 page engineering study focusing on adding as much renewable energy as possible. We are in the process of switching from on-demand hot water heaters to solar hot water heaters for all of our buildings. Over the next two years we will undertake an upgrade of our electrical grid, add a battery bank and add as much wind and solar power as is feasible.

Outboard Engines – As a water-based facility, Turneffe Flats depends on marine engines and operates more than a dozen outboard engines.   Approximately 12 years ago we led the way in Belize by changing to 4-stroke outboard engines. We continually monitor our fuel usage and minimize are fuel usage through the use of the most fuel efficient use of our vessels. We will continue to use the most fuel efficient and pollution free marine engines available.   
Sustainable Social and Cultural Plan

Local Employment – Turneffe Flats is noted locally for the quality of our staff. All employees are from Belize and nearly all of guides were previously commercial fishermen who have been retrained as tour guides. Our salary scale is above average and many of our employees have worked for us for nearly 20 years. We hire and train local persons in high level management positions as well as more standard positions.  

Employee Training – As a small resort, employee training is largely carried out by the supervisors in an on-the-job manner. When possible, we also utilize remote training programs for specific purposes. All employees are fully informed about the Company policies and perspectives on sustainability and also educated about the environmentally sensitive issues related to their particular area. Employees are encouraged to discuss the Companies environmental policies with guests and frequently do.

Community Development – Particularly through the process of establishing the Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve, Turneffe Flats has been very involved with the Turneffe Atoll community. The local community at Turneffe consists primarily of commercial fishermen who live in “fish camps” or on small commercial fishing vessels. Turneffe Flats has emphasized the need to build a community atmosphere at Turneffe with eco-tourism and the commercial fishing sector working together for the community good and to jointly maintain the healthy marine environment upon which we both depend. 

Turneffe Flats owner, Craig Hayes, has lectured at eco-tourism gatherings on the Symbiosis Between Eco-tourism and Commercial Fishing and we will continue to promote this as a major way forward for sustainable management of the coastal marine ecosystem.  Through Turneffe Atoll Trust, a video
named An Atoll at Risk has been produced. An Atoll at Risk outlines the conservation challenges facing Turneffe Atoll and explains why meeting these challenges is important to the economic and societal sustainability of Turneffe.

Housing - Turneffe Flats provides on-site housing for employees due to the long travel distances to Turneffe Atoll. We will continue to ensure that employee facilities are as comfortable as possible including a staff telephone, staff internet access and staff satellite television system. We will add additional amenities as feasible. 

Health and Safety - For many years Turneffe Flats has provided emergency assistance and transportation for local fishermen in need of these services, and we will continue this practice.