Rain Forest Adventures assists with conservation and recreational tourism

POSTED: 11/4/11 12:20 PM

MIAMI/St. Maarten – Rain Forest Adventures introduces the sustainable construction plan for the Emilio Wilson Estate (EWE) property in St. Maarten, which includes a recreational park that will combine historical significance, environmental awareness and sustainability with a safe and exciting attraction for both local residents and travelers to the destination.
The park, for which a request for permits was submitted to VROM on July 18 and for which financing and construction drawings are ready, will double as a conservation zone with its infrastructure affecting only 3.6% of the entire 436, 237 square-meter existing property. The goal is to simultaneously showcase the estate’s rich eco-system, culture and heritage in consultation with the islands nature, archeological and historical experts. Part adventure attraction, part plant, animal and bird sanctuary, Rain Forest Adventures will provide St. Maarten with a minimal-impact tourism site.

Delicate construction methods and best practices will be implemented to preserve protected areas. For example, many of the materials will be delivered via helicopter to avoid damaging trees and forest floor, and no buildings will be built above the 200 meter line of Sentry Hill, home to precious flora, fauna and wildlife, and stunning natural rock formation. Only low-profile aerial attractions will grace the top of the mountain with minimal pathways and an observation deck, allowing visitors the most amazing view on the island. The unique existing flora and rock formations will be protected during construction and showcased with descriptive interpretation during operation.
On a daily basis, the park will recycle, reuse and reduce waste. Tours are carbon-neutral. With a rainwater collection pond adjacent to the road, which will help alleviate flooding, buildings will be fit with water collection systems and cisterns, to be used for irrigation and toilets. Electricity will be conserved throughout, and a solar energy system is also included in the master plan. Further, no harsh cleaners or pesticides will be used, and the park will also have forest-wide composting.

The scope of Rain Forest Adventures’ long-term goals includes an ambitious conservation program, which entails spending $1 per visitor (or minimum of $25, 000 annually) toward reforestation and maintenance of the existing Emilio Wilson Park. The initiative hopes to return the land to its maturing endemic forest state within 50 years. A nursery on the premises will grow saplings of species found in the area’s original forest for planting on-site.
As a major player in community outreach, Rain Forest Adventures will offer St. Maarten residents employment, half-price resident entry rates, and create programs for schools and volunteers to plant trees in return for complimentary visitation to the park. Expert naturalist tour guides in plants and wildlife will demand training opportunities within the community. Visitors will be led through the historical plantation house, reconstructed and opened as a museum, sharing the EWE’s cultural heritage and the history of St. Maarten. The signature four-passenger chairlift (which is also wheelchair-accessible) will fly high into the canopy, featuring stunning 360-degree views of the area’s preserved eco-system. The site will also serve as a host for major events, meetings and conferences.
With five existing eco-adventure parks in Costa Rica, Dominica, Jamaica and St. Lucia, and four in their planning/construction phases in Panama, Rio de Janeiro, Alaska and St. Maarten, Rain Forest Adventures is the only organization of its kind with the strongest and most geographically diversified track record in the Americas, dedicated to preserving native eco-systems.

Governments from these countries have endorsed the concept. For example, in Dominica, 1/3 of the park is situated on a UNESCO designated world heritage site: the Morne Trois Piton National Park. In St. Lucia and Jamaica, the company has long-term leases with entities from the local governments and in Ketchikan, Alaska, the United States Forest Service has approved a plan for the construction of a park in an area designated as “old growth forest”. Representatives from these governments are willing to share their experiences of working with the company upon the requests of any interested party.
These destinations have won numerous awards for their programs, such as the level five Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST), which the Costa Rica sites and only an elite handful have achieved; first place award with the Audubon Society’s Annual Christmas Bird Count, a result of the stunning birding sanctuary the Costa Rica Atlantic park provides; and the Blue Flag Ecological Certification presented to several parks for their efforts in ocean protection. Princess Cruises has awarded Rain Forest Adventures locations for their superior excursions. The parks lead environmental clean-ups at local beaches, communities and roads, particularly after major storms. Plant-A-Tree and Adopt-A-Hectare sponsorships fund reforestation, and for nearly 10
years, Rain Forest Adventures’ Aerial Tram Foundation has implemented a wide array of beneficial programs within local neighborhoods.

The company will soon open a show room in St. Maarten at the offices of Architect John Baker of IXI Design at the top of the Carousal Building for interested visitors, as well as a community outreach event to present the plans to be held later in the year. For more information please visit www.rainforestadventure.com

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