Cape Town – South Africa’s highly-acclaimed Grootbos Private Nature Reserve has been honoured by National Geographic as one of 15 finalists in the esteemed World Legacy Awards. The recognition is for Grootbos’ work in its Grootbos Green Futures Foundation, and list Grootbos as a finalist in the ‘Engaging Communities’ World Legacy Award.
This award recognises direct and tangible economic and social benefits that improve local livelihoods, including training and capacity building, fair wages and benefits, community development, health care and education.
Lean Terblanche, director of the Grootbos Green Futures Foundation told Traveller24, “the award shines a much-needed light on the importance of conservation and sustainability initiatives in tourism around the world. Our actions today affect the world for centuries to come; no one will benefit from tourism [in the future] if we do not protect our people and our planet.”
The Grootbos Green Futures Foundation, started in 2003, is non-profit arm of the Grootbos Private Nature Reserve which focuses on community based training and capacity building to support poverty alleviation, provide upward job mobility and advance nature conservation in the high biodiversity region known as the Cape Floral Kingdom where Grootbos is located.
To date, 143 local residents graduated from the Green Futures Horticulture and Life Skills College founded by Grootbos and all were successfully placed into jobs.
Other community benefit initiatives include the Football Foundation which provides HIV/AIDS Awareness training in local schools to educate children about reducing transmission risk and the Siyakhula Growing the Future Organic Farm project providing valuable training in sustainable farming knowledge.
The Grootbos Green Futures Foundation is honoured alongside other internationally acclaimed institutions and organisations, but is the only South African organization to be awarded.
Sharing the nomination with Grootbos is the Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy in the United States as well as the category winner, The Bushcamp Company in Zambia.
The Bushcamp Company, says NatGeo, has worked hard to bring the benefits of sustainable tourism to the local population of the Luangwa Valley, recognizing that protecting the natural environment means fully involving the local community in management and decision making.
In 2015, Grootbos also became a founding member of National Geographic Society’s National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World, which acknowledges exceptional boutique hotels in extraordinary places around the world with a demonstrated commitment to sustainability, authenticity and excellence.
The Bushcamp Company was also featured in this awards. In SA, Grootbos was named alongside two other proudly South African lodges.