Borana Joins the Global Ecosphere Retreat® Family.
We’re delighted to announce that Borana Lodge in Kenya has achieved Global Ecosphere Retreat® (GER®) status – one of the world’s highest sustainability standards for privately protected areas.
When it comes to travelling with a positive impact, it doesn’t get much simpler than booking a stay at Borana. In 2007, the owners, the Dyer family, decided to commit all retained earnings from Borana ranch and lodge to support conservation activities. That means that by staying at Borana Lodge, guests make a direct contribution to over 90,000-acres of pristine northern Kenya rangelands. The conservancy is home to 14% (106) of Kenya’s endangered black rhinos, and works closely with the Kenya Conservancies Association and Northern Rangelands Trust to secure over 70,000 sq km of community owned conservation landscape.
But having a positive impact doesn’t stop at conservation; it’s embedding sustainability across the DNA of a business where The Long Run’s GER® standard offers unparalleled support.
Borana is now one of 11 Long Run properties to have achieved the GER® status. Recognised by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), the standard is not only about businesses mitigating their negative environmental impact, but about positively impacting the well-being of the planet and people. The standard is earnt, rather than granted or paid for, and it is not unusual, like in Borana’s case, for it to take five years or more to achieve.
Delphine King, Executive Director of The Long Run, comments, “For me, Borana is the quintessential example of what The Long Run stands for. Particularly in its approach to making conservation a long-term viable option through business resilience, strong community connections, and providing a habitat for the region’s most endangered species.”
Michael Dyer, a partner and the Managing Director of Borana, recalls, “When we were introduced to The Long Run in 2015, we quickly recognised that we were dealing with credible experts and that the 4C thinking was very much aligned with our ethos.” He continues, “The Long Run team did our initial assessment, and it became apparent that there was a lot we could do better… not only in how we finance conservation and interact with employees and community but in energy efficiency, waste management and how we can make our business more environmentally sound.”
Since that initial Long Run assessment in 2015, Borana has thrown everything at ramping up environmental management and adopting the 4Cs — Conservation, Community, Culture and Commerce — on a more strategic level. Anne-Kathrin Zschiegner, The Long Run’s Technical Advisor, says, “It has been incredible to witness what can be achieved when a committed and passionate team like that at Borana embrace challenges and opportunities across the 4Cs.”
The result is one of East Africa’s most sustainable lodges; the whole property now runs on solar energy, underutilised boreholes provide water via solar pumps, and 98% of waste has been diverted from landfill. Borana’s Mobile Clinic treats over 700 local people each month.
Michael continues, “Our landscape conservation has always been strong, but it was at the micro level that The Long Run’s support has proved most valuable; with The Long Run’s technical support, and a brilliant team here at Borana, we have become more efficient and more considerate in everything we do.” Shared ideas and site visits with other Long Run members have also been integral to advancing Borana’s sustainable journey; “Collaboration brings the whole Long Run membership up a notch”, Michael says.
Izzy Parsons, Sustainability Manager at Borana Conservancy, observes, “The GER® framework helped us to put systems in place so that we could document and measure what we’re doing and set targets. Anything we were doing before The Long Run stepped in, was left unrecognised or unquantifiable, which isn’t very motivating.” Technological advancement has also been an essential part of this — five years ago, it wasn’t possible to monitor solar output via a smartphone, for example.
Of course, the bigger picture is also important, and nowhere demonstrates the power of The Long Run’s 4C model better than Borana, which is home to some of the most intact rangelands in Laikipia. Having achieved the GER® status, the team at Borana hope that others will adopt the 4C model and join the journey. Michael says, “We were adopting a 4C approach out of common sense but formalising it into the 4Cs, using commerce as the driver for the other Cs, has refined how we document our sustainable ethos, communicate it to guests, employees and the wider community. Everything runs smoother.”
The team at Borana now hopes that the lodge will be a source of inspiration to others — other tourism businesses, conservation projects, and also individuals. Michael comments, “I hope that in this new travel climate travellers will favour those businesses having a positive impact, and themselves be inspired to change after experiencing it.”
Borana is located at the foot of Mt Kenya resting on the Laikipia Plateau. This 32,000-acre conservation area is home to both Black and White Rhino and a variety of other endangered species. In 2013, a founding population of 21 Black Rhino were introduced. Once they were settled and had established territories, the fence between Borana and neighbouring Lewa Wildlife Conservancy was dropped forming one landscape; allowing the wildlife free reign over 92,000 acres of intact African wilderness. Together with Lewa, this ecosystem hosts a thriving community of over 200 rhino (both black and white), making this one of East Africa’s largest continuous rhino habitat. Borana Lodge is one of East Africa’s original fully hosted, family-owned lodges, and was the first ecolodge in Laikipia; power is generated through the solar farm, water is delivered from an underutilised solar powered borehole, and food produce is supplied by the in house organic Waitabit permaculture farm. The Lodge offers a wide range of conservation-based activities. Find out more at www.thelongrun.org/borana-conservancy and www.borana.co.ke.
About the GER Standard
The Long Run’s Global Ecosphere Retreats® (GER) standard is recognised by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) and is a leading sustainability standard. It is considered to be ‘one of the world’s best standards for privately protected areas’ (Dr Jeff A. Langholz). The GER® standard is unparalleled by any other standard in that:
- It rigorously covers all 4C aspects of sustainability in tourism with equal weight;
- It is not merely about compliance assessment; it is a vehicle to support nature-based tourism businesses’ in their journey of continuous improvement;
- Likewise, it is not only about businesses merely mitigating their negative environmental impacts but about positively impacting the well-being of the planet and the people;
- The GER® recognition is earned rather than granted following a highly rigorous assessment by accomplished experts and professionals;
- Owning, directly managing or influencing a significant landscape or seascape is an essential criterion that makes GER® exclusive on the one hand and focussed on the planet and people on the other hand;
- GER® members must be commercially profitable or commit to attaining commercial viability; demonstrating that conserving nature is an economic imperative beyond the ethical arguments of posterity;
- Therefore, the GER® standard is ultimately for those nature-based tourism businesses that are exceptionally motivated to be a force for the greater good and are, or aspire to be, the best of the best in sustainable tourism.
Once a property achieves GER® status, it is granted for six years with a compulsory mid-term (three year) review to ensure compliance and create a new 4C plan if needed.