PHINDA - PIONEERING RETURN TO WILDLIFE & COMMUNITY OWNERSHIP

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PHINDA - PIONEERING RETURN TO WILDLIFE & COMMUNITY OWNERSHIP

South Africa
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Just 17 years ago the land of Phinda was degraded under poor agriculture. Today Phinda contains over 46000 acres of Big Five reserve, 7 distinct ecosystems, 7 award-winning safari lodges, and has been a regional stabilizer of conservation and geotourism. Embedded in the success has been Phinda’s commitment to upliftment of the surrounding rural villages. Beyond substantial employment, CCAfrica established Africa Foundation and has delivered over 90 classrooms, 19 preschools, medical clinic, skills development and communication centres, water access, bursaries, 1000’s conservation lessons and more. Last year, the name of Phinda (means “The Return”) became most apt - about 24 000 acres of the reserve was restored to the ancestral owners of the Mnqobokazi and Makhasa communities through land restitution. They have engaged CCAfrica to continue running the business which now pays R3m rental to the community as landlords. They have in turn committed the land to wildlife in perpetuity.

Your idea
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Street Address

No street, but near

City

Richards Bay

State/Province

Kwazulu Natal

Postal/Zip Code
Country
Year innovation began

1990

Geotourism Challenge Addressed by Entrant

Quality of benefit to the people of the desitination

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Indicate sector in which you principally work

Tourism-related business

Geographic location

Rural.

Plot your innovation within the Mosaic of Solutions
Main barrier addressed

Lack of local input

Main insight addressed

Develop community assets

Innovation
What is the goal of your innovation?

To demonstrate geotourism can recognize local communities as serious asset owners, custodians and landlords when succesful geotourism operations and partnerships are in place.

How does your approach support or embody geotourism?

Phinda was established as a pioneering conservation exercise driven by the belief that tourism could be the vehicle to put more precious land under wildlife, sustainably, and give local rural communities a meaningful share of the benefits.
Once degraded under poor agriculture and land use, now over 46 000 acres and 7 ecosystems have been restored to their natural heritage.
Communities have been engaged through direct employment (increased by over 1000% in which they share with visitors their culture and legacy knowledge of the bush, significantly increased economic activity, and upliftment projects.
Importantly, this required a tourism operation, carefully managed to attract high-end guests who, per head, provide disproportionately high benefit to nature-based tourism and this conservation.

Describe your approach in detail. How is it innovative?

Seventeen years ago approximately 44 000 acres of delipdated farmland was acquired to establish a private Big Five game reserve. It was a strategically important location as it was designed to be a keystone property between some existing, but fragmented nature conservancies (state-owned). Once the land was secured, restoration could begin and over 1000 head of game were reintroduced, all previous internal infrastructure e.g. fencing was removed, and nature once again reigned.
Initially 2 small, luxury lodges were established and this grew to 4 discreet lodges, 2 private residences,1 walking safari operation and a ranger-training school. Phinda Forest in particular has been regarded as one of the most eco-sensitive building projects in the country with each part of the stlited lodge components being built offsite and carried by hand into the sandforest grove so as not to disturb the sensitive soil bed or any saplings.
Throughout it's development the neighbouring rural communities were consulted and engaged. In order to further support these communities a fundraising and development arm was established called Africa Foundation which has delivered over 90 classrooms, 19 preschools, medical clinic, skills development and communication centres, water access, bursaries, 1000’s conservation lessons and more (see later section).
Last year, the name of Phinda (means “The Return”) became most apt - about 24 000 acres of the reserve was restored to the ancestral owners of the Mnqobokazi and Makhasa communities through land restitution, with funds provided by government to acquire the land if CC Africa (Phinda's owners) were willing sellers. The community, thanks to a legacy of trust and partnerhsip, have engaged CC Africa to continue running the business which now pays R3m rental to the community as landlords. They have in turn committed the land to wildlife in perpetuity. What a victory for communities, conservation and geotourism!

What types of partnerships or professional development would be most beneficial in spreading your innovation?

The success of Phinda and any model such as this in the future relies, vitally, on three elements in the partnership:
1. BUSINESS PARTNER - A stable, responsible tourism opertor with international reach and marketing network and the capacity to train and upskill to world standards. They must also shoulder the business risk.
2. COMMUNITY PARTNER - A stable, carefully formed partnership with the community who have a high regard for the natural/cultural heritage that they have custody over. (CC Africa has worked hard at this through conservation education).
3. FUNDING PARTNER - A funding organisation eg government or donor body that is prepared to put up the high capital investment for acquisition and development of rge asset.

Impact
In one sentence describe what kind of impact, change, or reform your approach is intended to achieve.

Phinda pioneered model whereby communities can receive perpetual, substantial, stable and steady flow of income of a heritage asset through partnership with an experienced, honourable tourism operator

Describe the degree of success of your approach to date. Clearly define how you measure quantitative and qualitative impact in terms of how your approach contributes to the sustainability or enhancement of local culture, environment, heritage, or aesthetics? How does your approach minimize negative impacts? 200 words or less

The success of Phinda predates the community land deal and can be highlighted in some of the following examples.
CONSERVATION IMPACT
- 57 000acres reclaimed for wildife
- 7 ecosystems restored
- recognized wilderness high-spot of the world
- 1000 head of game released into new reserve
- successfully pioneered cheetah reintroduction and to date 80 new cheetahs born
- successful breeding of highly endangered Black Rhino
ECONOMIC UPLIFTMENT
• 300 full time staff (area had previously employed less than 30)
• 85% of Phinda staff are from communities
• 1500 directly or indirectly reliant on Phinda or significant portion of income
COMMUNITY BENEFITS
• 90 new classrooms and renovated existing classrooms
• 3 Libraries
• 1 Science Laboratory
• 233 Hippo Water Rollers
• 150,000 books
• 24hr medical clinic in the Mduku community
• 19 Pre-Schools established
• 35 artisans trained
• Ablution facilities at various schools
• Playground equipment and toys to various schools and crèche’s
• Provision of educational aids, school supplies and stationery to various schools
• Built the Nibela Skills Training and Production Centre
• Facilitated the provision of electricity to 1 school
• Access to water for school through the provision of water tanks, guttering and a borehole
• Edu-peg Educational Tools
• Permaculture Vegetable Garden at school.
• Career Guidance for high school students
• Annual grants of Bursaries/Scholarships
• Established the Mduku DevCentre Project (Digital Eco Village)
• Computer training lessons
• Conservation Lessons for children
• HIV / Aids Awareness Workshops
• Built Mbhedula Market in Mduku; and provided Capacity Building & Product Development Training to the Market Committee
This has allowed for local stability and preservation of traditional structures and heritage as there is less requirement for migration to cities for employment.

How does your program promote traveler enthusiasm, satisfaction, and engagement with the locale?

By creating a world-class Big Five safari lodge, international guests are attracted and through interpretive guiding the wonders of nature are shared. Around 70% of staff are from local communities so the guests interact in a meaningful way and are often taken to the communties to share in culture and see some of the positive impact their tourist dollar has delivered. Many guests actively choose to become loyal donors to the Foundation.

In what ways are local residents actively involved in your innovation, including participation and community input? How has the community responded to or benefited from your approach?

Covered largely in the above questions - community members dominate the staff component and are representative at senior management level so are actively involved in the project as business drivers as well as landlords.
In order to reinforce the positive relationship with nature, children from the community are taken on game drives in the reserve in a carefully designed conservation lesson programme called WildChild. Community also is involved in peripheral business innovations, including a large recycling operation.

Describe how your innovation helps travelers and local residents better understand the value of the area’s cultural and natural heritage, and educates them on local environmental issues. How do you motivate them to act responsibly in their future travel decisions?

As covered above - the key activities that contribute to improved understanding:
- guests are exposed to the projects and history of the reserve in the orientation
- guest trips to the communities
- guest involvement in Africa Foundation
- choirs and soccer leagues (part of Positive Health program to address HIV issues)
- conservation lessons in schools and outings to reserve
- regreening and waste-management programmes support awareness
- conservation debates in high schools
- ranger and tracker training for community
- anti-poaching awareness

Sustainability
Is your initiative financially and organizationally sustainable? If not, what is required to make it so? What is the potential demand for your innovation?

The success of Phinda relies on it becoming a commercial success as this proves it to be a viable model for wise land use and conservation.
The business took many years of shareholder support and belife but now is profitable, sustainable and replicable.

How is your initiative currently financed? If available, provide information on your finances and organization that could help others. Please list: Annual budget, annual revenue generated, size of part-time, full-time and volunteer staff.

We cannot reveal financial and budget figures, but Phinda was established on private funding and now delivers a profit of around 14% of turnover.
Full time staff - approx 300
Part-time, local contracting and indirect employment - 1500 - 2000 (which in turn supports approx 15 000 local people)

What is your plan to expand your approach? Please indicate where/how you would like to grow or enhance your innovation, or have others do so.

The success of Phinda led to the establishment of a network of some 40 safari lodges and camps in 6 African countries. These are largely in national parks and leased land, but in the instance of 3 camps the local comunity are our landlords.
CC Africa is looking to rasie donor capital to replicate the model of community-owned land in partnership with CC Afriac committing to opening and running a high-yield, low-impact geotourism business on the land and bearing the commercial risk. Africa and South America are part of these plans.

What are the main barriers you encounter in managing, implementing, or replicating your innovation? What barriers keep your program from having greater impact?

The main barrier is that frequently community title to the land is insecure and traditional structures have no means of raising sufficient capital to purchase the land or lack the legal structures to lock-down title. If these can be overcome, especially with governmental /donor support, the model is replicable.

The Story
What is the origin of your innovation? Tell your story.

I didn't come up with the concept of Phinda - it was somebody elses dream. But it was so powerful that it drew me (and my wife!) away from our own tourism business based in the Cape to be part of it.
It was my role to negotiate and settle the land deal - it is one of my proudest moments and I am hugely inspired to do it again. However the dream of Phinda and its restoration to the community can never be claimed by just one person - we have established a quite incredible family of CC African and have created real bonds with our extended families in the community. Their wisdom and passion is really what made it all possible.

Please provide a personal bio. Note this may be used in Changemakers' marketing material.

Steve qualified as a Chartered Accountant in South Africa. He left the profession to open a hotel, which expanded with the addition of 2 more hotels and 5 restaurants – the most renowned being the Bay Hotel & Blues Restaurant in Cape Town. In 1994 he became the MD of CC Africa (Africa’s leading ecotourism company) and soon took on the role of CEO. Steve is responsible for growing the business and expanding the viable commercial environmental model across the world. The first step that Steve pioneered was taking the CC Africa game lodge business model to India’s Tiger Reserves. CC Africa has received prestigious ecotourism awards, including recognition as global winner of the British Airways Tourism for Tomorrow Award. As CEO, Steve is able to pursue his passions – namely service excellence and commercial viability, whilst having a clear focus on both wildlife and community development. Running a company with the philosophy of “doing well by doing good” makes it easy to get up every day

Please write an overview of your project. This text will appear when people scroll over the icon for your entry on the Google map located on the competition homepage.

Just 17 years ago the land of Phinda was degraded under poor agriculture. Today Phinda contains over 46000 acres of Big Five reserve, 7 distinct ecosystems, 7 award-winning safari lodges, and has been a regional stabilizer of conservation and geotourism. Embedded in the success has been Phinda’s commitment to upliftment of the surrounding rural villages. Beyond substantial employment, CCAfrica established Africa Foundation and has delivered over 90 classrooms, 19 preschools, medical clinic, skills development and communication centres, water access, bursaries, 1000’s conservation lessons and more. Last year, the name of Phinda (means “The Return”) became most apt - about 24 000 acres of the reserve was restored to the ancestral owners of the Mnqobokazi and Makhasa communities through land restitution. They have engaged CCAfrica to continue running the business which now pays R3m rental to the community as landlords. They have in turn committed the land to wildlife in perpetuity.

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