Who Will Create the First Green Island?

In addition to Leo's eco-friendly island plans, 2 other projects are under way.

ByABC News
April 3, 2008, 3:58 PM

April 4, 2008 -- The race is on to see who can create the Caribbean's first completely green island. In the running: the Turks and Caicos government, private developer David Skar and actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

All have plans in the works – at varying stages – to green up their respective Caribbean isles.

DiCaprio, long a champion of all causes environmental, snatched up his own private island just off the coast of Belize back in 2005: 104-acre Blackadore Caye. According to published reports, the actor envisioned an environmentally sustainable resort, or possibly an entire community, on his private paradise from the start. Development was rumored to have started late last year.

DiCaprio's publicist, Ken Sunshine, declined to comment on the status of the project at the moment, saying there would be more to report in the next few months.

But the other two contenders aren't keeping so mum on their plans. Last month Turks and Caicos announced that it will transform its largely undeveloped Salt Cay Island into the first to be fully environmentally sustainable.

Meanwhile, a private developer behind STAR (Sustainable Terrain and Resources) Island in the Bahamas is staking a similar claim. It's the brainchild of architect/designer David Sklar, who's already made considerable headway and plans to break ground this year.

Both parties are actively grooming their islands for tourism and vying to be the face of the green Caribbean initiative.

"It's a conscious decision and very historic," Turks and Caicos Premier Joseph Misick said. "Once we see what works, we'll spread it to other islands as well."

What works for Salt Cay will be slightly different than for STAR Island, which is privately owned and currently home to no one except those stationed there to build out the new eco-Shangri La.

Just 2.5 square miles, Salt Cay is already home to about 60 to 100 families. This means the Turks and Caicos government has a slightly different challenge: "greening up" Salt Cay for tourism, but not leaving its current residents in the dust.

And according to designer David Sklar, that curve is a steep one.

"The learning curve is so huge, and there's so much technology that needs to be quantified and researched," he said. "We don't want to see everyone going through the same learning curve that we did. We're all about sharing."