Community Award Finalist
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Of the six floral kingdoms on earth, South Africa's Cape Floristic Region is perhaps the least well known. Covering just 553,000 hectares, it is also the smallest. Small, however, does not mean insignificant. Despite accounting for just 0.5 % of Africa, the region is home to nearly 20 % of the continent's flora.
It is also here, overlooking the long crescent of Walker Bay, that the luxury hotel and reserve known as Grootbos is found. The lodge manages 2,500 hectares of very high conservation value land, with 785 indigenous plant species recorded on the reserve, of which 117 are species of conservation concern and seven are endemic to Grootbos.
It's one thing to use the money raised from its 6,000 visitors each year to protect and restore such a fragile and unique ecosystem. What sets Grootbos apart is that it goes a lot further, designing its stewardship of the land to also bring uplift to the many impoverished communities that live nearby.
Of the 180 people employed at Grootbos, 95% is from the local communities. Its Growing the Future project provides skills development in organic agriculture, sustainable animal husbandry and beekeeping. In the last year it produced 3 tonnes of organic fruit and vegetables, 980 kg of organic honey, 26,000 free range eggs, and generated more than R500 000 (US$42 000) from plant sales and landscaping. And following a needs analysis of 700 of the poorest households, the lodge launched a GreenBox planting system, which is now being rolled out to enable 200 households to produce their own food.