Award-winning actor and staunch eco-activist Leonardo DiCaprio is launching a new project: transforming a small island off the coast of Belize into an eco-resort and conservation area. He purchased the 104-acre Blackadore Caye with a partner nearly 10 years ago, and recently teamed up with NYC-based Delos developer Paul Scialla to create the luxury resort, which is slated to open in 2018. The plan is to make this a “restorative island”, which refers to both calming effect it will have on visitors, and how the island itself is being replenished.

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Blackadore Caye has suffered from overfishing and coastline erosion over the years, the latter of which has been exacerbated by the over-harvesting of its native mangrove and palm trees. Since the island is so close to San Pedro, the palm trees on the Caye have been uprooted to decorate hotel grounds in the city, while fishermen have cut down the mangroves to smoke their fish on the island before heading back to the mainland to sell their wares.

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The eco-resort will be created as an enormous arc-shaped platform in the water, which will dual as a protective cover for fish shelters and man-made reefs beneath it. Plans are underway to remove invasive plant species so the land can be reforested with its indigenous mangroves, and a nursery is being built on the island that will grow native marine grasses. These will be transplanted around the island with the goal of forming a manatee conservationarea, and the entire project will be monitored by a team of scientists, designers, and engineers. They, along with the landscape architects hired to restore the island, will monitor the resort’s impact on the island’s surroundings.

DiCaprio’s goal is to “…create something not just environmental, but restorative; a showcase for what is possible.” Instead of just creating a low-impact, eco-friendly vacation spot, the plan is to improve the area and leave it in better shape than how they found it. There will certainly be a blending of eco-stewardship and luxury living on this island: in addition to the guest villas, there will also be a number of private luxury residences for sale around the Caye, ranging in price from $5 million to $15 million.

Via the New York Times

Photos by Benedict Kim