Caiman Ecological Refuge (Brazil) and Grootbos Private Nature Reserve (South Africa) are putting the Long Run philosophy of acting today for a better tomorrow into practise through an exchange of ideas and lessons learnt. During a recent visit to Grootbos by Helder Brandao, the environmental manager of Caiman Ecological Refuge , the two Long Run members were able to exchange practical ideas and experiences geared towards ensuring that their activities within the 4C’s - Conservation, Community, Culture and Commerce (4Cs) – benefited from each others knowledge and experience.
In May 2012 Helder Brandão visited Grootbos Private Nature Reserve in the heart of the world-renowned Cape floristic region, Western Cape, South Africa, to learn more about their conservation activities and the restoration of the native flora and fauna within and beyond the Grootbos 2,500 hectare private nature reserve.
The journey across the Atlantic Ocean was driven by Caiman’s strong desire to be a showcase of appropriate Pantanal land management and to play a leadership role in promoting the conservation and economy of the Pantanal through a diverse approach to land management. Having established a private nature reserve of 5,600 hectares in size to preserve its exceptional variety of habitats and biodiversity in 2004, Caiman Ecological Refuge has become living proof that traditional Pantanal cattle ranching can be practiced alongside biodiversity conservation and ecotourism if implemented according to sustainability and wise stewardship principles.
To further develop, enhance and strengthen its approach to sustainability through the holistic balance of the 4Cs, Caiman recognised the need to learn from other leaders within the field of sustainable tourism. As a result of Grootbos’s exceptional reputation regarding the conservation and restoration of its flora and fauna and its membership in the Long Run Initiative Grootbos represented an obvious choice for Caiman to look for innovative project ideas and activities, and exchange experience.
As Helder Brandão emphasised, “the experience of visiting another member of the Long Run Initiative was extraordinary because I could see both the strong and weak points of Grootbos’s approach to the 4Cs concept and compare it with our experiences at Caiman Ecological Refuge. I could see great ideas that we could benefit from at Caiman which would improve the ecotourism services and add more value to the lodge, which will strengthen the sustainability of our efforts”. Of particular interest to Helder was the Grootbos’s experience in how they managed to have a positive impact on other land owners resulting in a shift of land management practises in the area. This emphasises Caiman’s strong desire to play a leadership role in promoting environmental, economic and social sustainability in the wider Pantanal and Mato Grosso do Sul region and that continuous education and engagement of neighbouring ranch owners can ensure the long-term health of the Pantanal wetland ecosystem and the ecological functioning of the Caiman Ecological Refuge itself.
This recent example of sharing best practices between Caiman Ecological Refuge and Grootbos Nature Reserve clearly emphasises that “the exchange of experience plays a significant role in speeding up the development of different projects and a destination’s approach to the 4Cs” (Helder Brandão). Such a collaborative approach to sharing and learning from each other in a practical and hands on manner ensures that best practise can be scaled up and replicated rapidly, ultimately strengthening global efforts to bring about sustainable tourism.