Care of the Land
Each of our lodges is tasked with the responsibility to operate according to our philosophy of giving more and taking less.
At each lodge and office we seek out many small but meaningful ways of putting our values into action every day. We understand that creating extraordinary experiences for our guests is the most important thing that we can do to sustain our business and thus benefit the wildlife areas that we protect. However, within this context, we still look for ways to reduce our energy consumption and carbon emissions, such as recycling initiatives, conservation awareness drives, water efficiency, elimination of pollution, addressing road damage and erosion, re-greening and many more.
Understanding our impact
Over the past few years, &Beyond has introduced an environmental strategy to assess our lodges from a sustainability and conservation viewpoint. The lodges are annually subjected to an intensive sustainability audit to determine their environmental impact. This allows the company to determine lodge-specified strategies to reduce that impact.
Additionally, in order to understand and manage some of our impact, monthly measures are taken of the following eco-overheads:
- Water usage
- Electricity consumption
- Diesel and petrol consumption
- Gas and paraffin, charcoal usage (for illuminating and cooking)
- Firewood and charcoal
- Waste production and management
These statistics are collated and analysed in order to help identify problems, as well as to help lodges see how their innovations and savings have paid off. Efficiencies are identified and the lodges are set targets to improve and reduce their impact still further.
In doing this, our aim is to run our businesses as sustainably as possible from an ecological viewpoint. While there are no national regulations or standards that oblige us to do this in any of the countries where we operate, we believe that this is yet another way that we can contribute to our core ethic of Care of the Land.
Land management at &Beyond Phinda
&Beyond subscribes to strict land management techniques to ensure that the wildlife areas that we influence remain sustainable. Below we highlight a few of our most significant focus areas at &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve.
- Preserving the Sand Forest
Phinda is home to rare sand forest, which is home to important endemic plant species, as well as some of South Africa’s rarest animals. Of the remaining 2 000 hectares of sand forest that is being protected in the world, Phinda is home to 800 hectares. In order to limit damage to this precious area from elephants, an elephant exclusion fence was erected around the largest section of sand forest on the reserve in 2005. One of the first of its kind, other reserves are now utilising the same method to protect vegetation types that are at risk. In addition, a long-term study into the effects of nyala and elephant on sand forest species is currently taking place. Researchers are also exploring the role of beetles and the possibility of using dung beetles as an indicator of the health of the sand forest.
- Research and Monitoring
The amount of research conducted at Phinda has allowed it to make a significant contribution to scientific and wildlife seminars, conferences and workshops. The reserve has a full-time team of four, as well as research students from several universities, actively collecting and coordinating ecological data. Data on lion, leopard, cheetah, elephant, black and white rhino, hyena and birds of prey is collected daily.
- Veld Management
Assessments are regularly conducted on soil, grasses, woody vegetation, carrying capacity, stocking rates and threatened plants and habitats. Fire is the main tool in veld management and these assessments are used to determine the burning regime. Using scientific analysis of the veld and following the management processes derived from these methodologies has allowed the reserve to increase grazing capacity by 30%.
- Invasive Alien Plant Removal
Invasive alien plant species pose the biggest threat to the carrying capacity and biodiversity of game reserves throughout South Africa. Thanks to its land management policy, Phinda is a leader in contributing to the removal and clearance of invasive alien plants in KwaZulu-Natal.
- Conservation of Threatened Plants
Phinda is home to a number of endangered plant species, including some highly sought-after medicinal plants. Thanks to meticulously implemented management plans, these species are not only surviving but thriving on the reserve.
- Soil Conservation
Phinda has implemented a strict off-road driving policy to reduce the impacts of this practice on soil and vegetation. Thanks to this, we have been able to influence industry standards and acceptable practices of off-road driving.
An innovative conservation partnership
The second of &Beyond’s reserves to open, Ngala Private Game Reserve was born in 1992 out of a unique three-way partnership between &Beyond, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) SA and the South African National Parks Trust (SANParks Trust). In terms of the agreement, &Beyond leases the Ngala land from WWF SA and, in return, we pay a portion of our turnover to the SANParks Trust. This money has been used to expand some of South Africa’s smaller national parks in areas with exceptional biodiversity. The monies paid by &Beyond have enabled SANParks to establish the West Coast National Park, a high biodiversity region of international importance.
The then CEO of National Parks and CEO of Conservation Corporation Dave Varty, concluded a mutually beneficial deal resulting in Ngala becoming the first private game reserve to be incorporated into the world-famous Kruger National Park, a model that paved the way for further private concessions within the Park