Building conservation into the bottom line

June 20, 2016



We invited Kaddu Kiwe Sebunya, President of the African Wildlife Foundation, to write a guest blog for Limalimo Lodge outlining the added strength that comes from working together, and how our guests are playing a valuable role in conservation with every night they stay.

At the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), we believe you have to invest in people to achieve long-term meaningful conservation. We also have to participate in and help guide the continent’s path toward growth and prosperity so as to preserve rather than exploit its biodiversity and natural resources. That means finding ways to involve all sectors of society, including the private sector, which has a key role to play in shaping a modern and prosperous Africa.

In 2011, we established African Wildlife Capital (AWC) as a mission-based investment arm of the organisation. AWC, which is owned by AWF, offers alternative development financing in the form of structured loans to small and medium-sized conservation enterprises, which, in turn, adhere to a list of conservation covenants. In Ethiopia, AWC provided a loan to Limalimo Lodge in the Simien Mountains National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Ethiopia is a country of extremes. Nowhere is that more visible than in the Simien Mountains, where the mountain range consists of towering jagged pinnacles that drop off sharply into rolling plateaus. This beautiful landscape is also home to unique species such as the Ethiopian wolf, the walia ibex and the Gelada monkey. But while tourists around the world travel to Ethiopia to visit the many religious and cultural sites, the country is perhaps less well known for its wildlife and wild lands. The investment in Limalimo Lodge is a step toward building up Ethiopia’s infrastructure for wildlife tourism.  

The lodge was selected for support, owing in part to its ethical and community-focused business plan. Sitting inside the park, the lodge’s presence will help generate much needed gate fees and revenue for the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority, which manages the Simien Mountains and other protected areas.

For communities in areas as remote as Limalimo, it can sometimes be hard to see the long term consequences of daily activities such as cutting trees for firewood and house-building. Additionally, with tourism often passing through at arms-length, with no direct impact on the communities, it can be difficult to see why one should try to change their lifestyle and habits to encourage more visitors.

Through hiring members of the local community as staff, purchasing food from local suppliers, training the building team in low-impact construction methods, and demonstrating the importance of maintaining the natural beauty of the park, we expect to see Limalimo Lodge having a truly positive impact on its immediate and wider environment.

We’re keen that our involvement with the lodge doesn’t end with the loan though. For example, we are working with Limalimo Lodge to develop a conservation fund that will invest specifically in the Simien Mountains National Park. Every guest that stays at Limalimo Lodge pays a USD $10 per night conservation fee, which will support AWF conservation activities in and around the park. This will include community engagement work and much needed infrastructure improvements in the region. The fee will also help support the Adisge Primary School, which AWF is rebuilding for the local community as part of its Classroom Africa programme. As we deliver on these programmes, they will be featured on both the AWF and Limalimo Lodge websites.

We have also connected Limalimo lodge with another one of our investment projects - Village Ways - who, with our support, has been able to expand their operations into the Simien Mountains region. Village Ways concentrates on community-focused tourism, and you can read more about their work and how they will partner with Limalimo Lodge in this blog post from April.

The key is to create successful business ventures that provide needed revenue to protected area authorities to manage their natural assets and to provide communities with economic incentives to conserve wildlife and their natural surroundings.

As we are finding all over the continent, it’s not just tourists who are increasingly looking for ways to contribute to conservation through their travel choices. Tourism operators, lodges and other business owners are wanting to build positive conservation and socio-economic outcomes into their bottom line.

As conservationists, we can help identify what those positive outcomes are and work together to ensure that Africa’s wildlife and wild lands are here for future generations of tourists and residents alike.



Other posts

March 09, 2017

Building conservation into the bottom line
June 20, 2016

Welcoming Village Ways to the Simien Mountains
April 08, 2016

Sustainable Tourism – an opponent for climate change?
February 29, 2016

Starting the Year with Rachael’s Review
January 21, 2016

Happy Christmas from the Limalimo Team
December 24, 2015

Training in the Mountains
November 26, 2015

Our Kit List for the Simien Mountains
October 30, 2015

Interviewing Julia Bleasdale
September 18, 2015

Assessing the impact of Limalimo Lodge
August 18, 2015

Simien Mountains in the Clouds
July 17, 2015

Trekking highlights in the Simien Mountains National Park
June 22, 2015

Working with Artisans at Limalimo Lodge
May 05, 2015

Ramming Earth: A Guest Blog from Rowland Keable
April 16, 2015

Celebrating our Women
March 30, 2015

Rocket stove!
March 23, 2015

One for the Food Lovers
February 24, 2015

Thanks Tyler!
February 22, 2015

Send a postcard
January 20, 2015

December 02, 2014

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November 07, 2014

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October 13, 2014

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September 18, 2014

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