Lourensford Estate: Cape Town’s Environmental Hub

The magnificent 4100 ha estate nestled in the fertile amphitheatre of the majestic Hottentots-Holland Mountains.

Lourensford Estate, founded in 1700, is a mix between a proud history and a dynamic new vision to create a giant among South African fruit and wine producers. Known for its renowned fruits and wines of exceptional qualities, Lourensford is also a leading employer and tourist destination on the Stellenbosch wine route. Utilising unique technology, optimal terroir and environmental sustainability, the wines of Lourensford are becoming well-recognised icons of true style and sophistication.

Unique biodiversity

In partnership with the Karsten Group, great emphasis is placed on the conservation of the Estate’s unique biodiversity and rich floral heritage. The term biodiversity refers to all the genes, species, ecosystems and processes that allow life to persist over time. When biodiversity is intact, species and ecosystems are resilient, enabling them to adapt to environmental changes. When biodiversity is lost, nature responds unpredictably, making it difficult for growers to plan production and protect natural resources. The conservation of this biodiversity area is monitored by the Biodiversity & Wine Initiative (BWI) funded by the World Wildlife Fund.

Biodiversity sustains human livelihoods and life itself. An estimated 40 per cent of the global economy is based on biological products and processes.Biological diversity has allowed massive increases in the production of food and other natural materials, which in turn have fed the growth and development of human societies. Biodiversity is also the basis of innumerable environmental services that keep us and the natural environment alive – from the provision of clean water and watershed services to the recycling of nutrients and pollination.

Biodiversity encompasses variety and variability. In other words, it refers to the differences within and between all living organisms at their different levels of biological organisation – gene, individuals, speciesand ecosystem. It is through the myriad interactions among and between these organisms and the biotic environment that the possibility for adaptation arises.

Maintaining the potential for adaptation is important because it allows organisms to adapt to modifications in the environment – such as climate change. It also allows farmers and breeders to alter and create new varieties by crossing genetic lines, thus boosting productivity and enabling the same species to be grown and produced across a huge variety of climatic and ecological conditions. Take, for example, a single crop such as apples – the genetic diversity held within this crop and its wild relatives has allowed selective adaptation, enabling it to be grown successfully across a vast range of different climatic zones, from North America and Africa to Asia and Australia.

Biodiversity is therefore important because it offers choice not only from an evolutionary perspective but also from that of human development and survival. This has helped people manage change – it provides alternatives to fall back on when other resources happen to fall absent. It also enables people to adapt resources proactively to better suit new conditions.

Current pressures on and losses of biodiversity are threatening to undermine these choices and adaptive responses, however. The last few hundred years have witnessed a rapid increase in the rate at which biodiversity is being altered. As populations have grown and their consumption needs increased, so has the drive to extract more economically valuable resources more rapidly – be it minerals, timber or food. Natural habitats that harbour some of the world’s most valuable biodiversity are being lost atever faster rates and over progressively wider areas.And managed lands are undergoing increasingsimplification – with large losses of agricultural biodiversity.

The consequences of these changes and losses are already and will undoubtedly affect us all. In order to conserve biodiversity, throughout history societies have protected areas they consider valuable. Conservation has taken many different forms, including setting aside land for national parks or sacred sites and imposing use restrictions on certain plants or animals (known as in situ conservation). Specific areas have most often been set aside for such reasons as their rare ecology (endemic or Red Listed species) or exceptionally high species diversity; their critical environmental services, such as watershed protection or evolutionary functions; or their continued use by indigenous peoples who are still pursuing ‘traditional’ lifestyles based on ‘wild’ resources.

As development pressures grow, areas containing unique characteristics have become ever more vulnerable to pressures from outside commercial interests or local inhabitants. Landowners have found it increasingly difficult to maintain these zones as ‘no-use’ areas, particularly with limited funds and little prospect of the areas paying their own way.

The pattern of declining support for biodiversity conservation has been to some extent countered by the Global Environment Facility and other smaller funding facilities. Yet the deficit remains large – and governments, particularly in developing countries, are unlikely to devote the necessary resources to conservation in the near or medium term. New sources of funding and new forms of partnership in biodiversity conservation are critically required. This is where the private sector, including the mining and minerals industry, can further develop a role.

Adopting ‘biodiversity friendly’ practices remains challenging. Critical focus areas on the estate include:

• strenuous fire and erosion management

• extensive invasive alien species clearing program

• improving the coherence of and access to information on biodiversity

• reducing our carbon footprint

• reviewing and improving our protected biodiversity areas

• engaging in conservation and sustainable development projects

• working towards more effective land use planning systems

• ongoing environmental education and research

• regular environmental assessments and audits

Eco Tourism

Apart from Lourensford Wine Estate’s better known attributes such as renowned wines of exceptional qualities, WWF’s Biodiversity and Wine Initiative (BWI) championship status since 2006, ongoing conservation of our unique floras and fauna such as the Cape Leopard (Pantheraparduspardus), there is an even bigger worldwide link between the magnificent estate and wine-, eco- and heritage tourism at large.

Eco-tourism has become key in conserving biological and cultural diversity within a region. Job creation within local communities is one of the positive spin-offs. The high-yield, low-impact tourism model is a good fit for a working farm which typically offers highly personal and exclusive experiences to small groups of visitors at a time.

Eco-tourism - broadly defined as "responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people” - is thriving in the South Africa's winelands, with visitors to the Western Cape increasingly interested in exploring the wealth of eco-tourism activities on offer as they are in sampling the region's famous wines.

From accommodation at or neighbouring spa, farmer's markets and music festivals, biodiversity centre, mountain bike trails and full-moon hikes, our wine-, eco- and heritage tourism initiatives is creating huge public awareness around sustainability issues including recycling, energy conservation and minimising environmental footprints.

Sustainability

We believe in sustained innovation and commitment to a profitable, environmentally responsible fruit, grape and wine production and are adopting a broad-based approach to dealing with the challenges of climate change and sustainability. Our vision is one where economic stability and environmental sustainability go hand in hand in a profitable partnership that is carefully maintained by collaborative, constructive action.

To underline our strong commitment to sustainable wine growing practices over the past years and to become more environmentally friendly and reducing our carbon footprint, Lourensford has recently installed 2030 solar panels on the roof of its winery, covering 3300m2.

The solar power plant, installed by Sustainable Power Solutions, consist of modules that delivers a grid-compatible current to the winery’s main distribution board, where the energy is used first by the winery and the surplus is supplied to the rest of Lourensford’s consumers. The plant has been designed to ensure that all of the energy will be used within the Estate and supply 100% of the estates annual consumption. With advances like these, it is our strong believe that we are leading innovators in a constantly changing wine-industry environment.

The responsibility of the preservation of our rich biodiversity and the sustainable management thereof is no longer the task of the few nature conservationists amongst us. It has now become a duty and a responsibility and forms an integral part of our daily life. Due to man’s irresponsible decimation of his habitats and the pollution of our planet we are beginning to feel the impact of environmental changes. When biodiversity is lost, nature responds unpredictably...

For more information you can contact myself at +27.835210191 (johanw@karsten.co.za) or our Conservation Officer, Sally Reece at sally@lourensford.co.za – we would be happy to assist you as far as possible.


Lourensford Wine Estate
+27.218472333