Africa

Sustainable lodge operations

Empower

Vince Shacks

9/30/2022

Minimising our footprint on the wilderness

Tourism activities in sensitive environments will always have some level of impact. Through stringent standards and continual monitoring we assess and manage our impact and maintain our commitments to protecting the wilderness wherever we operate.

 

It’s our commitment to find ways throughout the business to proactively mitigate any negative impacts associated with our operations and to maximise the positive. In this regard we’ve developed Group Environmental Minimum Standards (GEMS), based on industry best practice and lessons learned over 40 years. GEMS guides us on how we plan, construct, operate and decommission camps in the most sustainable way possible. Regional legislation and standards have also taken into consideration as well as new technologies to ensure that practical solutions are found which are relevant to a myriad of habitat and ecosystem types.

 

EMPOWER
Wilderness Mombo Botswana Accommodation Camp Aerial View
We plan, construct, operate and decommission camps in the most sustainable way possible.
Wilderness Jacana Botswana Accommodation Camp Exterior

The problem

Negative impacts can arise through normal operations, adversely affecting the environment around camps.

The cause

Ecological disturbances, resource usage and waste, use of fossil fuels and associated carbon emissions.

Wilderness Bisate Rwanda Accommodation Villa Exterior

The solution

Bespoke standards provide a structured framework to inform operational and maintenance decisions.

Our approach to solving it

Tourism activities will inevitably have an impact on the environment, primarily related to ecological disturbance, the use of natural resources and waste management. Without sufficiently robust environmental management systems, it is difficult to monitor, track and enforce measures to mitigate negative impacts from tourism operations. This is something we acknowledge with honesty and a challenge we tackle head-on.

 

  • The Group Environmental Minimum Standard (GEMS) is a comprehensive set of standards that dictate how to maintain sound environmental standards at our camps.
  • Construction teams, camp operational teams, camp managers and maintenance staff use GEMS.
  • Updated regularly, the standards inform weekly and monthly maintenance and operational decisions, and record resource usage in terms of water, electricity, fuel and firewood, among others.
  • Every Wilderness camp is audited twice a year. All camps must comply with at least 85% of the requirements.
  • Audit outcomes inform detailed action plans with associated timelines and allocate who is responsible for executing the changes before the next audit.

 

Through strict adherence to our own set of standards we protect the environments in which we operate, ensuring a sustainable future.

Impact

Without the wilderness,
there is no Wilderness

Discover our impact

Our results and progress

GEMS is being implemented in six of our seven countries where our camps operate. Most of these countries have been following the standard and collecting this data for up to 10 years. Our newest destination, in Tanzania, will be joining the standard in 2024.

 

Four of the six countries are currently operating above GEMS standards, while the other two are over 80% and improving each month. While not ideal, performance fluctuations do occur as infrastructure ages and staff changes in camps. The role of the standard is to minimise these fluctuations and ensure consistency in results for as long as possible.

6 Of 8

Countries implement GEMS

4 Of 6

Operate above 80%

10

Years of tracking data

Vumbura Plains Botswana Camp Aerial View

Help us make a difference

Support our project

Our projects focus on specific activities that we believe will help us make a real, lasting impact. It’s all about low-impact tourism with high-impact outcomes. Help us reach our goals by donating via Empowers Africa – a US based, cost-effective solution to fundraising.

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