Interview with CapeNature, A TIES Premium Plus Member

Interview with CapeNature, A TIES Premium Plus Member

Kogelberg Nature

Interview with CapeNature, A TIES Premium Plus Member

CapeNature, a TIES Premium Plus Member, is a public institution with the responsibility for biodiversity conservation in the Western Cape. They are driven to create a successful "conservation economy", in which all the citizens of the Western Cape community transform the area's biodiversity into source of local economic development. In order to achieve these goals, they implement various programs such as youth education, stewardship, and ecotourism development. 

1. Why do you see sustainability as important in travel and tourism?


As the guardians of the Western Cape’s biodiversity, we recognise there is a huge importance to develop products and recreational activities which leverage our natural assets in such a way that protected areas become sought after tourist destinations, and become more accessible and attractive to a greater portion of the population.


Nature is everyone’s heritage and the sustainability of this asset ties directly into CapeNature’s vision. We conserve nature for a sustainable future, while also carrying out our mission to manage, conserve and promote these assets through providing access, benefit sharing and sustainable use.

2. How is sustainable tourism embraced in your destination?


Sustainable tourism is a trend that so many people are looking to follow as people become more and more aware of our impact on the environment. For us, we see it many forms such as the growing number of visitors, long waiting lists for bookings, the improved brand awareness among the public as well as various organisations looking to partner with us on sustainable developments.


A clear example of how much people are embracing sustainable tourism is in the fact that our visitor numbers increased by a massive 39% in the last financial year. The demand for sustainable tourist destinations is also increasing and we are constantly working on improving and increasing our tourism portfolio.


3. What have been the biggest challenges towards sustainability that CapeNature has faced?


Sustainable tourism has been hugely embraced by the organisation, but the challenge comes in where we have to ensure we are balancing the tourism needs against the environmental needs. Therefore, all our projects are always planned carefully with the aim of avoiding and mitigating any local environment harm while also optimising the use of green building technology.


We focus on developing nature-based recreational and tourism products by leveraging the province’s natural assets in such a way that protected areas become sought after tourist destinations, and more accessible and attractive to a greater portion of our population. 


  ecolodge by capenature  

4. What sustainable tourism initiatives is CapeNature most proud of?


Located in the heart of the Cape Floral Region Protection Areas World Heritage Site, the ecologically sustainable Oudebosch cabins at Kogelberg Nature Reserve can be considered our flagship product. It consists of five self-catering cabins, an eco-pool and small function venue to integrate modestly into the surroundings. 


capenature ecolodge

Some of the features which allow it to have a minimal impact on the environment is that it was built on an existing facility. The cabins are lightweight, stilted structures which integrate modestly into the environment. Renewable materials such as locally sourced stones, recycled wood and materials were used on the construction while large parts were made up of elements which were prefabricated off site of the nature reserve. With roofs adorned with gardens, it also allows the structures to blend into the immaculate surroundings.


In terms of the sustainability of the facility, local water resources are used, energy consumption is minimised through low-energy systems, while wastewater is avoided through the use of low-flow showers and self-composting toilets. These toilets have been heralded internationally as a modern alternative that greatly reduces water use and we have also implemented them in the Rocherpan Nature Reserve. By not requiring a connection to municipal sewerage lines, the composting elements not only save water, but also help to protect precious wetlands from degradation. 


One of the other main innovations is the eco-pool which uses no chemicals and requires significantly less energy than a regular swimming pool.


5. Have you obtained any green certification and/or awards?


The Oudebosch Cabins in Kogelberg Nature Reserve won the prestigious international Holcim Award for Sustainable Construction.


In the Cape Karoo area, the Gamkaberg Nature Reserve was acclaimed as one of the top 50 most sustainable tourist destinations on the continent by Africa’s Finest. The Cape Karoo area is one of the most species rich environments on Earth which is why the Sweet Thorn eco-lodges in this protected area were constructed with the specific aim of demonstrating environmentally friendly lifestyle methods.


6. How can travelers be more involved in ecotourism and sustainable tourism in South Africa?


We would encourage people to support nature. The Western Cape is one of the most beautiful places in the world so make it a goal to visit as many nature reserves as possible and learn about what makes these areas so special. Nature is everyone’s gift and it’s up to us to make sure gift is there for future generations to come, so encourage the youth to take an interest and get out in nature. You can also take sustainability features to not only your own home, but also to other tourism destinations by doing things such as recycling and acknowledging that we are in a water scarce country and doing your best to save this resource.


CapeNature TIES Premium Plus Member South Africa


About TIES

As the world's oldest and largest international ecotourism association, TIES seeks to be the global source of knowledge and advocacy uniting communities, conservation, sustainable travel..




> The International Ecotourism Society 



The Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference will highlight global challenges and local opportunities, supporting sustainable development of tourism and promoting solutions that balance conservation, communities and sustainable travel.

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