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Sibebe Resort Environmental Policy

Mission Statement:
We aim to protect the complex underground and overground environment at Sibebe and to minimise and manage any adverse impacts on the Sibebe ecosystem arising from the operation of the resort. We are committed to energy efficiency, waste reduction and recycling. We also aim to educate our visitors on the local culture, biodiversity conservation and the delicate landscape where the majestic Sibebe Rock is situated.

Environmentally sustainable practices
At Sibebe Resort we are working towards a minimal environmental impact of all the activities carried out.

Our policy is to ‘Reduce, Re-use and Recycle’
• We bulk buy as much as possible.
• We have separate bins for different materials. Paper, plastic and cardboard is re-used where possible and then re-cycled. Waste is composted and used as fertiliser
• We monitor energy consumption and try to find ways to reduce it.
• All our cleaning products are natural or eco-friendly
• All spending decisions are taken with a view to minimise environmental impacts.
• Water usage is monitored and kept to a minimum.
• Rain water is gathered and used for plants and animals
• The visitor centre has been built using low-impact, local and energy efficient materials
Natural Area Focus
The main focus of the operation is the monolith tour where visitors see the smooth Sibebe Rock surface and the natural caves formed over the millennia by igneous intrusion. Rock systems are hugely important to visitors in the study of rock formations, fossils, climate change, geological structures, etc. It is often only in granite caves that materials are left undisturbed, so we highlight the importance of the granite cave systems to the caveman who once inhabited the area and the conservation of the local flora and fauna of rural Swaziland.

Interpretation and Education
Information panels in the Visitor Centre give visitors information on the origins of Granite, cave formation and the history of the exploration and the cave complex at Sibebe. Our tour focuses on the ecosystem around Sibebe Rock, caves and the importance of biodiversity conservation. We encourage visitors to behave responsibly while in the eco and cultural heritage tours by not disturbing archeological cave constructions, not leaving litter, etc.

Contributing to Conservation
We consider ourselves to be temporary guardians of the Great Sibebe monolith during our lifetime and we aim to pass it on to the next generation in as primeval a state as we found it. Careful management of the flow and condition of water and air through rock systems is commonly critical to the successful management of springs.
Benefiting local communities
• We recruit local staff which gives local employment
• We are actively involved in local community organisations like tourism and heritage.
• We sell and promote the work of local artists and crafts-people.
• We sell locally produced foods.
• We promote other tourism operators in the area as well as all the other tourist attractions in Swaziland.
• We take part in any local initiatives that benefit the community.

Visitor Satisfaction
We are committed to ensuring that every visitor to Sibebe is left with a better understanding of the historic Sibebe network of caves, Sibebe Rock and a sense of wonder at nature’s beauty. We also allow people to get a close look at our native breeds of animals on the Nature Trail and let them get close and see them in their natural habitat. We encourage people to linger and relax and enjoy the views of the area by providing seating at strategic points along the way. We also provide fresh, local tasty food for their enjoyment in the cafe and have comfortable chalets for the visitors to stay in as they enjoy the Ecotourism and Cultural Heritage Eco-lodge experience.

Responsible marketing
We are working towards a paperless policy as regards marketing by use of our website, email, social media, etc., for promotions. Our flyers are printed on both side and we are working towards printing them on re-cycled paper. We use ‘Green Cartridge’ ink and recycled paper for all of our printing. Our website has eco information links and our eco policy.

Cultural respect and awareness
We promote any traditional Swaziland music or heritage events that are being held in the locality. We do not impede local residents’ access to historical archeologically, culturally and spiritually important sites. We also invite local people to open days or visits to the resort so they can enjoy the natural heritage in their area from the Resort’s perspective. We also invite local children from schools in the area for free trips to visit the resort, this educates them on the natural heritage in the area where they live.

Environmental impact management plan
In the development of the Sibebe Eco lodge we identified the possible impacts of this development to the geographic components and cultural heritage of the adjacent environment and communities. We have had an Environmental Impact study done in the area when we applied for planning permission to construct the Resort and we followed the guidelines that the Environmental Impact study outlined.

The architects’ brief was to provide a bespoke gazebo building for Sibebe Resort that would be sympathetic to the existing over-ground landscape. To create an indoor-outdoor space, with maybe one or more sides open to the weather, that would move people, with special emphasis in sustainable design, eco-friendly materials and would be low / neutral carbon emission. Finally, to produce a design that would be 'reclaimed' by the natural surroundings over time. With the majestic Sibebe Rock as its guardian, the design approach aimed at generating a contemporary building that would blend in and disappear within the existing hills below.

The use of grass thatch for the roofs was proposed to emulate the Savanna grassland ecosystem dominating the magnificently sculptured landscape also as a continuation of the existing hills. The gazebo seating area would also integrate with the existing landscape, allowing the visitor to enjoy the surrounding views to the Sibebe castle kopjes and hills. The selection of materials specified reflects and integrates with the characteristics of the site and its surroundings.

The area of the thatch roof follows and slightly exceeds that of the footprint of the gazebo, with the objective of replacing the ecology that the development stands on. This roof contributes to the reduction of heat loss and energy consumption in winter conditions, reduces cooling loads and provides sound insulation. The interstices of the external stonewall also contribute to generate a favorable surface for the development of local species such as on the neighboring rocks.

With the exception of the services areas (kitchen and WCs, for hygienic reasons), the finishes were kept to a minimum, having been considered both from an economical and a sustainable point of view.

In order to minimise the impact of the building on the rural landscape approximately 50 native trees have been planted in order to screen the Resort buildings from the road with time. Further landscaping is planned e.g. old species of climbing plants to be trained up the stonework on the building, plants on the grass roof to cascade down the walls and an area to the front of the building planted with wild flowers and some specimen trees in a natural lawn.

We have identified some of the impacts within and around the resort and have clear management plans to counter these impacts.

Use of Energy
Sibebe Resort has invested in an Off-Grid System that will use Solar and a Generator. Energy use in the chalets is mainly solar power in the operation of lighting, in-house entertainment, and water heating. As regards the internal lighting it has been specified and designed to provide an energy efficient system for all areas within the chalets.

This has been achieved by a combination of energy efficient fittings and by zoning the lighting controls to manage the lighting levels required dependant on the season, time of day, and the area of the building. Although kitchen equipment, by its very nature uses energy, we try to minimise the use of electrical energy and substitute this with LPGas.

The generator will only be used in cloudy days and during functions at the resort to minimise the use of fossil fuels. We have a carbon offsetting programme where we have planted 100 native trees and shrubs such which generate oxygen and reduce our Carbon footprint.
(i) Impact Management Plan
We have used a thatch roof in the construction of the buildings in the resort because these materials retain heat during winter and also keeps the rooms cool during summer which cuts down on energy use. We use LED lighting in the chalets and in the Conference Centre as much as possible and our ambition is that we use energy saving lighting systems. Our policy is to turn off all lights in all areas except when they are in use. This is in order to reduce energy consumption.

We don’t use central heating in the buildings for all of the winter season and don’t need to use it most of the year except on the odd occasions when the temperature drops too low.
• We use LPGas for cooking and heating which is cleaner and more efficient then electricity.
• We have large windows in the cafe to avail of natural light.

(ii) Reporting to management by guides and staff:
All Sibebe Resort staff make regular checks on use of lights and other energy sources

(iii) Action Programme:
In order to cut down on lighting, we have found that we do not need to use all light fittings in the chalets and since all bulbs are low energy LEDs, we only need to use half of all the lights. The duty manager takes appropriate action when any faults are reported by staff. Windows are cleaned regularly in order to optimise the amount of natural light in the Conference building. We give a discount to people who hire bicycles at Sibebe Resort. The car park is surfaced with gravel and sand and is not tarmacked. We encourage small tours to the caves, castle kopjes, bird watches and typical rainforest (10-12 people per tour).
Creation of Waste
One of the threats to the scenic beauty of the environment is rubbish brought by visitors. Any foreign matter deposited in ecosystem takes a lot longer to disintegrate. Waste generated by the operation of gazebo cafe comes mainly from packaging from deliveries to the gazebo and food stuffs from the kitchen. As we operate a ‘reduce, re-use and recycle ‘policy we continually try to improve on ways of doing this. We bulk buy in order to reduce packaging and have an arrangement with some of our suppliers to take back packaging on delivery.

(i) Impact Management Plan
Our plan is to cut down on waste in all the areas identified. We do this by returning packaging to our suppliers upon delivery. We encourage our visitors not to bring any food in to the Sibebe ecosystem and if they do, to take all waste with them. We have signs around the resort to remind people of this. We have a compost bin for compostable waste, we recycle plastic and paper and cans. We try to re-use jars, etc., as much as possible.
(ii) Reporting to management by guides and staff:
All staff are trained in recycling and take it upon themselves to cut down on waste.

(iii) Action Programme:
We have an arrangement with our suppliers that they take back packaging. We bulk buy as many of the products we use as possible taking storage space into account to cut down carbon emissions from delivery vans and personal transport. Waste coffee grounds are used as slug repellants and compost is used as fertiliser.
• Most of the food on the menu is home-made which cuts down on energy-inefficient prepared foods.
• We have a recycle bin from ‘Rural Refuse’ for plastic, paper and cans which we separate.

We have replaced toilet-roll holders to Lotus Toilet tissue, it can only be taken one sheet at a time which cuts down on the amount of toilet paper used. This toilet paper dissolves within 5 minutes in water which makes it easier to decompose.
• Refuse collection is done every 2 weeks.
• We have a general waste bins and colour coded recycling bins.
• There are several bins around the resort and along the trails for recycling.

Use of Water
The presence of water in the wetlands surrounding the resort has always been vital. Keeping this in mind there can never be a chance that the ground water may become compromised. We follow very strict guidelines set out by our Environmental Impact study and by our Environmentalist. Before the Resort was built we had to make sure that by building so close to the wet land system that there would be no adverse effects.

(i) Impact Management Plan:
We are always conscious of the importance of keeping ground water as clean and unpolluted as possible so as not to compromise the quality of the water that is being supplied to the adjacent communities.
• Our sewage system uses a bio-filtration system which effectively treats sewage to a very high level where it can be disposed into the environment and we use this water to irrigate the landscape at the resort.
• We also collect rainwater from roofs of the building and reuse it in the irrigation of our landscape.

(ii) Reporting to management by guides and staff:
We get an annual report from Bio Gas on the sewage system which is also checked by our onsite plumbers. Taps are checked in the toilets every hour to ensure that they are not left running.

(iii) Action Programme:
Water usage is kept to a minimum in the cafe by using washing basins and running of taps is discouraged. We use collected rain water for plants and animals in the resort and to clean around the outside of the buildings.
Use of detergents/disinfectants.
As stated above we have to take extra precautions about what gets into the ground water. We are mindful that we cannot use harmful chemicals. However some cleaning agents must be used in the cleaning of the chalets and conference centre. Disinfectants must be used in the cleaning of the kitchen and toilets. We adhere to strict health and safety regulations enforced by the health inspector.

(i) Impact Management Plan:
We are very conscious of the adverse effects of any chemicals on the underground water systems and keep their use to a minimum. We are fully aware of the damaging effects of detergents and disinfectants on the environment and try to eliminate their use in the building or replace them with eco-friendly or natural products. Sibebe Resort Eco-Policy

(ii) Reporting by guides and staff to management:
We encourage guides and staff to work with us to identify any areas where the use of detergents and disinfectants can be eliminated.

(iii) Action programme:
All areas where detergents or disinfectants have been identified we have identified alternative eco-friendly product, e.g., toilet cleaner, washing-up liquids, multi-surface cleaners, disinfectants and hand-soaps. Window-cleaner products have been replaced by water and vinegar and newspaper. Baking soda is used instead of commercial oven-cleaner. For deep-cleaning, we use a steam-cleaner instead of harmful chemicals.
Impact on wildlife or biodiversity.

Before we opened the resort we had a study of the ecosystem and geology by Umsimisi Community Project., carried out in September 2017. Their findings were “Since the Sibebe Resort’s built up area is located 4km away from the rocky out crops where wildlife is mainly found, and none have been encountered in the vicinity of the resort to date, the proposed development cannot impact on the local wildlife population.”

(i) Impact Management Plan:
We are conscious of the possible impacts of any activities relating to the operation of Sibebe Ecotourism and cultural heritage activities on the wildlife and biodiversity of the area. This applies to energy and water usage, cutting down on chemical usage and control of the creation of waste. We try to offset any unavoidable impacts by planting trees and shrubs. We actively encourage birdlife by growing fruit bushes and providing bird-feeders. We plant shrubs to attract butterflies and bees.

(ii) Reporting to management:
Guides and staff are encouraged to be aware of any changes they notice in the wild-life of the area.

(iii) Action Programme:
We have planted native trees since we built the buildings at the resort and will continue with this by planting more native species through our community tree planting exercises. We have also planted indigenous shrubs to create hedgerows for animals, birds, etc. We have planted native wild-flowers to encourage local species of birds and insects to populate the area. We will create ‘bug-hotels’ so children can identify different species of insects.  
We have identified all the impacts surrounding Sibebe Resort development and we have plans put into operation to offset these.

Our staff have been trained on the importance of conservation and the practices that we have put in place. They are encouraged at all times to pass on as much information to our visitors. We review our environmental policy annually and our staff are encouraged to suggest new ways to run the Resort sustainably. They are often offered opinions on comments by our visitors we value so much.

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