Singita’s latest project – the construction of Kwitonda Lodge in Rwanda, set to open in August 2019 – places our commitment to conservation front and centre as we take the next step in our journey. It will bring much-needed attention to the plight of the country’s critically endangered mountain gorillas and provide an extraordinary opportunity to set a new, even higher standard for sustainability across all aspects of Singita’s operations.
Like many countries in Africa, Rwanda’s natural resources are under pressure from population growth. 12 million people live within its borders in an area the size of Maryland, and the ever-increasing numbers are creating environmental challenges such as deforestation, habitat transformation, overgrazing and soil erosion. Deforestation, in particular, is a major issue in northern Rwanda, where one-third of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas live in the unique, high-altitude cloud forests of the Volcanoes National Park. Aligned with our mission to preserve Africa’s most vulnerable landscapes for future generations, Singita’s primary motivation for operating in Rwanda is to play a role in the conservation of this critically endangered species and its natural habitat.
More than 100,000 people live adjacent to the protected area where mountain gorillas are found. Their need for land to cultivate has reduced the forest in which the gorillas live to virtual islands in the middle of expanding human settlements. Deforestation is a major cause of loss of biodiversity, and habitat conservation is vital for stemming this loss. The presence of Singita Kwitonda Lodge on the park border, along with our intention to rehabilitate this land, will improve the effectiveness of the buffer zone between agricultural land and the estimated 320 mountain gorillas inhabiting the Rwandan sector of this spectacular afro-montane forest.
The One Planet sustainability framework which supports all of Singita’s operations will be extended to the construction of Singita Kwitonda Lodge, where the set of 10 principles and aligned processes are already guiding decision-making on the ground. Fundamental to the design of the lodge is treading lightly on the land; a conservation philosophy which, in real terms, means sourcing local materials as much as possible, minimising waste, saving water and conserving energy.
According to Dr. Andrea Ferry, Singita’s Sustainability Co-ordinator, “every element of the build has been carefully researched and considered, from the local bricks and volcanic rock used to build the walls, to the mechanical ventilation system which draws in fresh air to ventilate and cool the rooms, eliminating the need for carbon-heavy air conditioning. Skylights, double glazed windows, and wall and roof insulation are some of the other features that will reduce energy consumption. Steel frame structures have reduced the use of environmentally detrimental concrete by up to 50%, heat pump and solar water heater hybrid systems will provide underfloor heating, domestic hot water and pool heating, and the landscaping strictly makes use of native plant species.”
Sustainable operations across all our lodges and camps play a major role in achieving our overall purpose to preserve and protect large areas of African wilderness for the next 100 years and more. Singita Kwitonda Lodge and the 178 acres on which it will stand will set an industry-wide benchmark for lodge design and sustainability, as well as reaffirm our commitment to reducing our ecological footprint and improving conditions for our people, and those in neighboring communities.
At Singita, a sustainable world is one in which people enjoy happy, healthy lives within their fair share of the Earth’s resources, leaving space for wildlife and wilderness. Visit the Sustainability section of our site to learn more about the One Planet philosophy and how we are applying it to the way in which we conduct business, build new properties and craft guest experiences.