The current construction of the new 20-room wing at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge (VFSL) has once again seen the legendary “Green Steps” eco-policy of the Africa Albida Tourism (AAT) group being resolutely implemented.
Design has had to adapt to many gracious trees and work around them; many other trees have been translocated into a nursery and will be replanted; building contractors have been virtually “fenced in” to prevent them trampling haphazardly over the fragile and precious environment.
This is not new to AAT, whose distinctive group logo is not the usual safari lodge icon of a roaring lion, an elephant or a cheetah. It is a single indigenous Acacia Albida (or apple-ring) tree. Green Steps is a real and profound policy that as far back as 2000 earned the VFSL resort one of four global environmental Oscars that year from Green Globe.
Even from the earliest days, when the VFSL resort opened in 1993, a strong eco-policy was crafted, enthusiastically spearheaded by group chairman Dave Glynn, and that ethos has been rigidly followed ever since.
“These world-class best-practice values form our group’s compass points,” said Glynn. “We strive to inspire a proud reputation for surpassing guest experiences; respect for the environment and fostering a spirit of partnership with host communities. We hold a huge responsibility in our hands to sustainably utilize the natural resources.”
AAT established the benchmark for eco-friendly tourism development in 1991 when constructing VFSL. More than 6,000 trees were translocated into a nursery and replanted when construction ended. All mature trees were fenced to protect them during the construction period.
“We took the preservation of the environment very seriously,” said Mr Glynn. “We wanted to keep the contractors to very confined working spaces.” He recalled that VFSL was the first Zimbabwe tourism company to use an environmental architect.
“We were going to lose just one mature tree during construction, so the instruction from me was to design around the tree…they take 10 years to grow and then we cut them down! We will not do that.”
One tree in the swimming pool area was translocated to the lodge arrivals’ turning circle island, a mature Mopani that continues to flourish today near a baobab that was translocated from an open-cast mine in Hwange 180km away. Before building commenced all the natural grasses, stones and rocks were collected and re-introduced later.
This is but a snapshot of the Green Steps that AAT continues to make in the eco-paradise of Victoria Falls: World Heritage Site and Natural Wonder of the World.