As a world-renowned eco-tourism destination Grootbos Private Nature Reserve is a responsible member of the Overberg coastline and plays its part by focusing on the development of sustainable nature-based livelihoods amongst local communities. In 2015 the Old Mutual Foundation provided R400 000 to the Grootbos Green Futures Foundation to provide accredited training in horticulture to 12 beneficiaries. This foundation offers accredited training in landscaping and horticulture. This training programme aligns with one of the core goals of the Old Mutual Foundation, which is to develop skills that enable unemployed youth to secure permanent employment and become economically active.
Unemployment is very high along this stretch of Overberg coastline, but with an accredited horticulture certification backing them, the Green Futures graduates can go on to secure employment in the Grootbos Reserve, other Botanical Gardens, landscaping companies or even set up their own gardening businesses. Many graduates however, with their improved confidence and life vision, go on to study further and have successful careers as trained and knowledgeable Field Guides, working closely with overseas visitors in the region. This is what good eco-tourism is all about, developing passion and pride in this unique ecological environment, and most importantly creating an improved quality of life through sustainable livelihoods.
Photography by the Old Mutual Foundation & Mark Wessels