10 Oct 2023
Spotlight - Protecing Nature
Around the world, golf clubs and organisations are actively dedicated to preserving and fostering our natural environment. During Sustainable Golf Week, we're proud to highlight a few remarkable examples of these efforts:
Preserving 200-year-old trees in Mauritius
Avalon Golf Estate in Mauritius has identified an ancient and exceedingly rare Pisonia Lanceolata tree, estimated to be over 200 years old. This unique tree is among only six on the island and is endemic to Mauritius and Reunion.
The club, GEO Certified in 2020, is committed to in-situ conservation efforts, recognizing the vulnerability of this species. They are actively protecting and restoring these precious trees.
Collaboration for Amphibians and Reptiles in the UK
Royal Porthcawl Golf Club in the UK collaborates with the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust to protect native UK newts, which breed in two on-course ponds.
One of these ponds is designated as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation, thanks to the unique occurrence of these newts. Together, they manage the ponds to maintain a balance between scrub and open water.
The club, GEO certified in 2019 and 2023, is partnering with The R&A and Oleo Ecology on a 5-year project to demonstrate the biodiversity value of golf courses.
Protecting Natterjack Toads in Hoylake
Royal Liverpool Golf Club plays a vital role in protecting the rare Natterjack Toad on its shoreline. The club collaborates with Cheshire Wildlife Trust to establish breeding pools for these toads, safeguarding their habitat during winter.
Conservation efforts include grooming pools, sculpting reeds into drainage-fed pools, and erecting educational signs along walkways. This ensures a peaceful breeding environment for the toads, a European Protected Species.
Creating new habitats at North Hants Golf Club
North Hants Golf Club in England actively creates various habitats for different species using log piles and other materials. These arrangements benefit insects, lichens, fungi, mosses, beetles, woodlice, worms, and more.
Birds find nourishment in this thriving microcosm of life, and as the wood decomposes, it enriches the soil, supporting diverse plant species.
The club also plans to maintain the course's character through woodland and heathland management.
Sandmartins find a home at St Andrews Links
At St Andrews Links, Sandmartins found a fondness for the course, nesting in the bunkers. To ensure their safety and preserve golf enjoyment, the club temporarily netted the bunkers.
Valuing these birds, the club thoughtfully created bunker-like cliff faces away from golfing areas, providing ideal nesting habitats. These new nest sites flourished, with at least three pairs taking up residence.
Sustainable courses respect their surroundings and honour the natural environment. They seek to embrace the uniqueness of each site — by enhancing its history, culture, landforms, and natural environment.
Day two of Sustainable Golf Week is exploring how the sport if protecting nature, ensuring no net negative loss of biodiversity. At every stage of a golf course’s life, there are opportunities to enhance and protect habitats, species and landscapes, but perhaps none more so than when the course is being designed and constructed. This puts golf developments in a unique space, and one in which the designers of today are embracing.
The CostaTerra Golf and Ocean Club sits on the Portuguese coastline offering spectacular views. The project protects and continues to do important restoration work of the native habitats on the property. Due to this important work, 65 hectares of the rare Zimbral (made up of juniperus spp) habitat have been cleared of invasive species and improved to ensure its long-term integrity. Around the golf course itself over 500,000 native plants have been planted to date to create native habitats that encourage the native wildlife to the project.
There is no doubt that the natural landscape and the habitats within it on this stretch of coastline are in better condition because of the CostaTerra project.
During the construction at West Cliffs Golf Links over 15 hectares of rare, native coastal habitat was uncovered. This habitat had lay dormant for years beneath the dense pine tree plantation that had been planted by the previous landowners for paper production. The project uncovered this native habitat and has allowed it to establish and grow naturally, creating a far more authentic and diverse environment to experience.
The golf industry has a significant and diverse supply chain with a breadth of equipment, apparel and products. Innovation is moving at pace amid growing consumer demands for more sustainable products which reduce impacts and protect the natural environment.
GEO Sustainable Golf Foundation partner Galvin Green are among the brands at the forefront of sustainable innovation, taking care of the environment throughout the production cycle.
“We are committed to managing the chemical content of our products, down to the smallest components. This rigorous approach ensures that our impact on both people and the environment remains minimal. This is achieved using a comprehensive tool that allows us to create a detailed profile for each supplier and helps us identify specific chemicals that require thorough testing.
“We require all our suppliers to undergo third-party social audits. These audits involve the collection and thorough review of supplier documentation. Based on these assessments, we determine appropriate actions for each supplier. Our goal is to collaborate exclusively with suppliers who not only adhere to our Code of Conduct but also comply with local laws in their respective manufacturing countries.
“We are actively working to increase the percentage of nominated suppliers within our network. This strategic step allows us to gain a more comprehensive view of our supply chain and to exercise greater control over the sourcing of components.
“As part of our ongoing commitment to sustainability, we are currently in the process of revising and strengthening our company's sustainability strategy. Our aim is to advance this strategy to the point where sustainability becomes an integral part of every department within the organisation.”
These inspiring initiatives showcase the harmonious coexistence of golf and nature. Join us in celebrating and supporting these efforts to make golf truly #BetterWithNature.
Check out Sustainable.golf/highlights for more inspiring examples.