Dec 14, 2016

Carbon neutral safari reserve recognised for its sustainability efforts

3 min
Kwandwe Private Game Reserve won a string of admirable awards at the 2017 Safari Awards held in London last month. The most commendable of these was...

Kwandwe Private Game Reserve won a string of admirable awards at the 2017 Safari Awards held in London last month. The most commendable of these was its award for being the Best Ecologically Responsible property for which it came first in the South Africa category and second in the overall Africa category.

A vast 54,000-acre wilderness region, Kwandwe Private Game Reserve has a holistic approach to green and sustainable practices. Offering exceptional wildlife viewing, the reserve's diverse landscape and five biomes are home to wide variety of game including the Big Five and threatened species such as the black wildebeest, crowned eagle, black footed cat and the highly endangered blue crane, from which it gets its name - Kwandwe, means 'Place of the Blue Crane' in Xhosa.

With just 22 rooms split between two small safari lodges and two private safari villas, Kwandwe has one of the highest land-to-guest ratios in South Africa. This high-yield-low-impact policy has reduced environmental impact, resource consumption and waste generation. Kwandwe captures vast amounts of rain water for human consumption rather than having large-scale water treatment and water waste systems. Solar technology is used extensively throughout the reserve to reduce electricity consumption, and therefore carbon emissions, while its policy of supporting local businesses assures food miles are reduced, with some herbs and vegetables grown on the reserve.

A safari at Kwandwe is carbon neutral too. Portulacaria afra, known as Spekboom in Afrikaans, is a nutritious thicket favoured by many grazing herbivores and one of the top five carbon-storing vegetations on the planet. Found in abundance across the reserve, it is thought that as much as four tons of carbon may be stored per hectare.

Family safaris too have an adventurous eco-focus with new activities adapted around ages whilst the gastronomic offering, sourced locally to reduce food miles, offers an element of innovation and surprise whether served in lodge and out on the reserve. It is these subtleties that made a safari at Kwandwe stand apart.

Community development has also been at the forefront of Kwandwe's activities. Kwandwe differs greatly from other game reserves in South Africa by virtue of the large numbers of people that live within the reserve. Many of these work for Kwandwe, making it one of the largest employers in the area.

It launched a social development arm in 2002 with the aim of unlocking the vast potential of local individuals and communities and has since made a real difference to people in the Eastern Cape. The reserve has provided adult education and training for potential staff; launched a positive health programme for locals; funded the construction of Fort Brown primary school and co-funded the construction of a development centre for Rhodes University; donated land for the development of an agri-village and community centre and set up a pre-school and aftercare centre on the property for children of staff.

As well as being carbon neutral and thinking carefully about the environmental aspects of its safaris, Kwandwe is focused on improving the lives of the communities living within the reserve. The recent awards have been well received and just goes to show the hard work the staff at Kwandwe have put in.

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Jun 25, 2021

UK must stop blundering into high carbon choices warns CCC

Dominic Ellis
5 min
The UK must put an end to a year of climate contradictions and stop blundering on high carbon choices warns the Climate Change Committee

The UK Government must end a year of climate contradictions and stop blundering on high carbon choices, according to the Climate Change Committee as it released 200 policy recommendations in a progress to Parliament update.

While the rigour of the Climate Change Act helped bring COP26 to the UK, it is not enough for Ministers to point to the Glasgow summit and hope that this will carry the day with the public, the Committee warns. Leadership is required, detail on the steps the UK will take in the coming years, clarity on tax changes and public spending commitments, as well as active engagement with people and businesses across the country.

"It it is hard to discern any comprehensive strategy in the climate plans we have seen in the last 12 months. There are gaps and ambiguities. Climate resilience remains a second-order issue, if it is considered at all. We continue to blunder into high-carbon choices. Our Planning system and other fundamental structures have not been recast to meet our legal and international climate commitments," the update states. "Our message to Government is simple: act quickly – be bold and decisive."

The UK’s record to date is strong in parts, but it has fallen behind on adapting to the changing climate and not yet provided a coherent plan to reduce emissions in the critical decade ahead, according to the Committee.

  • Statutory framework for climate The UK has a strong climate framework under the Climate Change Act (2008), with legally-binding emissions targets, a process to integrate climate risks into policy, and a central role for independent evidence-based advice and monitoring. This model has inspired similarclimate legislation across the world.
  • Emissions targets The UK has adopted ambitious territorial emissions targets aligned to the Paris Agreement: the Sixth Carbon Budget requires an emissions reduction of 63% from 2019 to 2035, on the way to Net Zero by 2050. These are comprehensive targets covering all greenhouse gases and all sectors, including international aviation and shipping.
  • Emissions reduction The UK has a leading record in reducing its own emissions: down by 40% from 1990 to 2019, the largest reduction in the G20, while growing the economy (GDP increased by 78% from 1990 to 2019). The rate of reductions since 2012 (of around 20 MtCO2e annually) is comparable to that needed in the future.
  • Climate Risk and Adaptation The UK has undertaken three comprehensive assessments of the climate risks it faces, and the Government has published plans for adapting to those risks. There have been some actions in response, notably in tackling flooding and water scarcity, but overall progress in planning and delivering adaptation is not keeping up with increasing risk. The UK is less prepared for the changing climate now than it was when the previous risk assessment was published five years ago.
  • Climate finance The UK has been a strong contributor to international climate finance, having recently doubled its commitment to £11.6 billion in aggregate over 2021/22 to 2025/26. This spend is split between support for cutting emissions and support for adaptation, which is important given significant underfunding of adaptation globally. However, recent cuts to the UK’s overseas aid are undermining these commitments.

In a separate comment, it said the Prime Minister’s Ten-Point Plan was an important statement of ambition, but it has yet to be backed with firm policies. 

Baroness Brown, Chair of the Adaptation Committee said: “The UK is leading in diagnosis but lagging in policy and action. This cannot be put off further. We cannot deliver Net Zero without serious action on adaptation. We need action now, followed by a National Adaptation Programme that must be more ambitious; more comprehensive; and better focussed on implementation than its predecessors, to improve national resilience to climate change.”

Priority recommendations for 2021 include setting out capacity and usage requirements for Energy from Waste consistent with plans to improve recycling and waste prevention, and issue guidance to align local authority waste contracts and planning policy to these targets; develop (with DIT) the option of applying either border carbon tariffs or minimum standards to imports of selected embedded-emission-intense industrial and agricultural products and fuels; and implement a public engagement programme about national adaptation objectives, acceptable levels of risk, desired resilience standards, how to address inequalities, and responsibilities across society. 

Drax Group CEO Will Gardiner said the report is another reminder that if the UK is to meet its ambitious climate targets there is an urgent need to scale up bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).

"As the world’s leading generator and supplier of sustainable bioenergy there is no better place to deliver BECCS at scale than at Drax in the UK. We are ready to invest in and deliver this world-leading green technology, which would support clean growth in the north of England, create tens of thousands of jobs and put the UK at the forefront of combatting climate change."

Drax Group is kickstarting the planning process to build a new underground pumped hydro storage power station – more than doubling the electricity generating capacity at its iconic Cruachan facility in Scotland. The 600MW power station will be located inside Ben Cruachan – Argyll’s highest mountain – and increase the site’s total capacity to 1.04GW (click here).

Lockdown measures led to a record decrease in UK emissions in 2020 of 13% from the previous year. The largest falls were in aviation (-60%), shipping (-24%) and surface transport (-18%). While some of this change could persist (e.g. business travellers accounted for 15-25% of UK air passengers before the pandemic), much is already rebounding with HGV and van travel back to pre-pandemic levels, while car use, which at one point was down by two-thirds, only 20% below pre-pandemic levels.

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