March 2021

Water – the lifeblood of the land

in Environment

Water – the lifeblood of the land

Africa’s summer rains typically transform its vast landscapes into lush green scenery, filling the rivers that are the lifeblood of the bush and bringing forth an abundance of new growth. From the dramatic East African thunderstorms of the Serengeti – where large herds of game graze the savannahs – to the riverine thickets of Singita Sabi Sand in South Africa, which is renowned for its high concentrations of big game and frequent leopard sightings, water sustains all. 

While the recent rains are certainly cause for celebration, they’re also a reminder of the importance of preserving our natural resources. Water across the world diminishes year on year and the stark reality is that climate change is wreaking havoc on weather patterns – including much-needed seasonal rains – making them more and more unpredictable, and times of prolonged drought and increasing temperatures a certainty. 

Over the last three decades, Singita’s commitment to preserve and protect large areas of African wildlife and wilderness areas for future generations has seen us form strategic partnerships with non-profit Funds and Trusts in all the regions in which we operate. These crucial alliances help us to protect ecosystems, benefit communities and positively contribute to our climate commitments. Our far-reaching sustainability goals are fundamental business imperatives – both organisationally and at lodge level. 

2030 Vision

This will no doubt be the defining decade for mankind and nature, and the urgency to slow and halt the acceleration of global warming and biodiversity loss cannot be overstated. Singita’s 2030 vision supports global goals and our commitment to a nature-positive, carbon-neutral future underpins our business imperatives – from the restoration and rewilding of degraded lands to the recovery of threatened species supported by partnerships with communities living alongside these protected areas. Another key objective is to halve our ecological footprint, of which water conservation and efficient usage are crucial aspects. 

Singita’s 2030 vision supports global goals and our commitment to a nature-positive, carbon-neutral future underpins our business imperatives

‘Leonardo da Vinci said that water is the driving force of nature – but I’d like to add that it’s also the driving force of our economies and human wellbeing. Our commitment to preserving this life-giving resource remains a key focus for Singita,’ Inge Kotze, Singita’s Conservation GM

The business of conservation

Our adherence to Bioregional’s One Planet Living framework highlights how this thinking is embedded into every aspect of the Singita experience – and a natural extension of how we do business. One of the 10 principles of One Planet Living is the sustainable use and management of water. This entails not only using water efficiently and responsibly, but also monitoring the health of water sources, preventing pollution and mitigating the effects of flooding and drought. 

Singita's conservation practices are informed by Bioregional's One Planet Living framework

We work to reduce our water use through monitoring and measurement systems, leak identification, water-wise landscaping, rainwater harvesting installations and employee training. We also have several greywater systems across the group which enable the reuse of water from boreholes. Maintenance teams carry out daily checks and repairs and at many of our properties, waste water from treatment plants is used to irrigate gardens. Monitoring plays a role and usage is measured in a number of ways – including water meters at various points across the lodges, back of house operations and in staff villages. The meters measure consumption, and also flag any leaks. Singita is careful to use environmentally-friendly cleaning products to avoid water pollution and also ensures that water returned to the natural environment is tested regularly. 

The diligent monitoring and efficient management of precious water resources is a priority at lodge and reserve level

The future

Ultimately, our goal is to ensure that we take care of our resources – and limit the impact on the environment we operate in. It’s a fine balance to marry our hospitality offering with the ambitious sustainability targets that we’ve set for ourselves, but through the dedication of our environmental team and maintenance department, it can be achieved and the results already speak for themselves. ‘We cannot neglect water. Singita has set a 2030 target to reduce water use per guest by 30% and we are already making positive strides towards this. While acknowledging 2020 was not a normal operating year, our Tanzanian property did manage to reduce its water draw by 20% since 2017,’ says Andrea Ferry, Singita’s Sustainability Coordinator.  

Learn more about Singita’s far-reaching sustainability and conservation initiatives here>

By Julia Freemantle

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