Social Upliftment Projects

The Gansbaai-based Grootbos Foundation is a non-profit organisation that was established with the vision of conserving the Cape Floral Kingdom and uplifting the communities within it. The foundation strives to develop sustainable livelihoods through ecotourism as well as enterprise development, sports development and essential education. Many of the projects generate their own income or are partially self-sustaining! Furthermore, Grootbos Foundation
Offers long and short term volunteering opportunities to both local and international applicants.

Click on ‘More Info’ below to find out more about Grootbos Foundation.

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Business Information




The Grootbos Foundation is a registered Section 21 company which was established to run the non-profit activities of Grootbos Private Nature Reserve. 

The nature reserve is a unique destination world-renowned for its ecotourism near Cape Town, South Africa.


The conservation of the biodiversity of Grootbos and its surrounds and the development of sustainable nature-based livelihoods through ecotourism, research and management and education.


1. Engaging in conservation, rehabilitation and protection of the natural environment, including flora and fauna on Grootbos and in the Cape floristic region.

2. The promotion of, and education and training programs relating to, environmental awareness, greening, clean-up and sustainable development projects.

3. The provision of education by an adult education “college” aligned with the Agricultural Seta, including horticulture, conservation, ecotourism and life skills education.

4. Training unemployed women in sustainable agriculture and life skills development with the purpose of enabling graduates to grow and sell their own food.

5. Research including ecological, educational, social, scientific and technological research on conservation, rehabilitation or protection of the natural environment, including flora, fauna or the biosphere.

6. The development of sports facilities as a tool to integrate society, provide a healthy lifestyle for the youth and promote environmental awareness amongst all communities.

7. The utilization of income received from donors to pursue the above activities.

8. The development of an indigenous plant nursery that will generate income for the above activities.

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Why is Grootbos Unique?

Why is Grootbos Unique?


Grootbos Nature Reserve overlooks the spectacular Walker Bay region and is home to an amazing diversity of plants. 

Sean Privett and Heiner Lutzeyer explored, recorded and photographed the region’s flora for more than a decade, resulting in one of the most detailed, long-termed botanical studies ever undertaken in the Cape Floral Kingdom. A collection of 465 plants have been identified, six of which are new to science. 

The Early Days

Sean Privett first arrived at Grootbos in January 1997, fresh from completing a study of the Fynbos growing on very similar habitats at Cape Point Nature Reserve, some 90 km to the west. 

The differences in the flora between Grootbos and Cape Point were immediately apparent, despite their obvious similarities in geology, soils and climate. As Sean took his first guided tours of the reserve with inquisitive guests, he was amazed at the diverse habitats and associated species wealth. It quickly became apparent that a full vegetation survey including a species checklist and vegetation-environment analysis was needed for the reserve. In the winter of 1997, they carefully selected sites for 50, 5 x 10m permanent vegetation plots, chosen to include all the obvious habitats on Grootbos. They carefully recorded species and abundances as well as environmental characteristics for each plot. They also recorded all species on our journeys between the plots and while driving around the reserve. The result was a first vegetation map for Grootbos and a list of 250 plant species, of which 31 had Red Data Book status, meaning they were a species of conservation concern. One of the species, Erica Magnisylvae, found tucked away on a few south-facing slopes of the reserve, was new to science. This study was used to extrapolate what the total number of flowering species on the reserve was likely to be and came up with a figure of between 330 and 377 species. At around this time, three major conservation planning exercises were being completed for the Agulhas Plain, and in all three Grootbos was deemed to be an area of low conservation value. According to the available data at the time Grootbos  and the surrounding Walker Bay region appeared to lack endemic species and unique habitats, had an impoverished and unremarkable Proteaceae flora – in one of the studies the Protea family was used as a key indicator of botanical wealth – and did not boast unique or rare ecological and evolutionary processes.


However, they did not stop there and have continued collecting, identifying and photographing the flora of Grootbos ever since. Initially, species were added to our list as they were recorded on guided tours and occasional walks through the reserve. The picture changed considerably as Heiner Lutzeyer became more interested in studying the flora. Initially, it was his interest in photography and the desire to know what he was photographing that increased the reserve’s plant list. Subsequently, he has become an ardent amateur botanist and specialist of all that is green on Grootbos. The result is a unique vegetation study, quite possibly the most detailed ever undertaken in the fynbos region, which has continued from 1997 to the present, including all seasons and all stages of post-fire succession on the reserve. The results have been staggering. Between 1997 and early 2010 the number of positively identified, herbarium-catalogued plant species on Grootbos has increased to 765 – at least twice the number estimated from the earlier plot data. An additional 67 species have been found to be of conservation concern, while a further 6 species new to science have been recorded. The deeply significant ecological role of fire in fynbos was emphasised by the way the checklist jumped from 650 species to 765 after the huge 2006 mountain fire swept through Grootbos (70 new species for the list as a result of post-fire successional processes).


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Six New Species Discovered!

Six New Species Discovered!

A total of six species new to science have been recorded during the Grootbos Vegetation survey Grootbos Private Nature Reserve:

1. Erica Magnisylvae

This species was first found by Sean Privett on Grootbos during the original vegetation survey of the reserve in the winter of 1997. It was described by Ted Oliver of the Crompton Herbarium who named it with reference to its discovery on Grootbos; Magnisylvae = of the large forest in classical Latin.  So far, it has only been recorded on Grootbos with an outlying population on the damp slopes above Platbos Forest to the south-east.

2. Lachenalia Lutzeyeri

One of the endemics to Grootbos, this species was first collected by Heiner Lutzeyer on the upper slopes of Witkransberg after a small fire in November 2004. It was sent to Kirstenbosch and thought to be an unusual form of Lachenalia Montana that also grows in the area. However, subsequent to the huge, February 2006 fire thousands of this ‘unusual form’ of L. Montana appeared on the sandstone ridges of the reserve and it was subsequently classified as a new species, endemic to Grootbos, Lachenalia Lutzeyeri. Remarkably, although many leaves were seen in the second year following the fire, only three plants were seen flowering and by year three it had all but disappeared from the landscape – waiting underground for the next fire to bloom and seed!

Lachenalia Lutzeyeri is presently only known from the type locality on Witkransberg on Grootbos. It has remained undetected until recently owing to its extremely erratic flowering, due to its dependence on summer or early autumn fires, coupled with its very late flowering period and the slim chance of it being recognised as a distinct taxon due to its superficial similarity to other members of the genus. L. Lutzeyeri is remarkable in being one of only three members of this genus known to be entirely dependent on the effects of fire for flowering to occur. The others being L. Montana and L. Sargeantii.

The species grow in full sun in open aspects or between Table Mountain sandstone boulders,

on a number of ridges on the reserve between about 350 and 400 m above sea level.

3. Cliffortia Anthospermoides

At first sight, this species may be mistaken for a member of the genus Anthospermum (Rubiaceae), hence its species name Anthospermoides.  It was first discovered by Anna Fellingham on Grootbos Nature Reserve in Overberg Dune Strandveld vegetation in 1996.  Only four populations are known, all on or in close vicinity to Grootbos and only the population on Grootbos is protected.  

4. Pterygodium Vermiferum

First recorded on Grootbos on the path up to Swartkransberg at an altitude of 385 m by Heiner Lutzeyer in 2003. Subsequent collections have been made on these western slopes of the mountain at three separate sites about 260 m apart. A second population is located along the road between Stanford and Gansbaai and a third population is at Die Kelders at an altitude of 50 m. The total known area of extent of this species measures just 5.5 by 3.0 km along with an L-shaped range, the majority of which is conserved within the Grootbos Reserve!

5. Capnophyllum Lutzeyeri

This species has only ever been recorded on Grootbos. It was first located following the 2006 fire on acidic soils. No plants were found in subsequent searches suggesting that it is a short-lived, fire-induced, species.

6. Dasispermum Grandicarpum

It is known only from Grootbos, where it was first collected by Heiner Lutzeyer in 2007 in fynbos vegetation that had burnt the previous year. No plants could be located in subsequent searches suggesting that the species may be a short-lived species, germinating, flowering and dying in the first year following the fire.

Growing the Future

Growing the Future


Growing the Future is situated amongst the pristine Fynbos, overlooking the Walker Bay on the beautiful Grootbos Nature Reserve. The project was launched on Women's Day in 2009, and is the Grootbos Foundations' second training project, furthering our commitment to developing the local community.

At Growing the Future, students are equipped with the invaluable skills of:

  • Small scale organic farming with a prominent business aspect
  • English literacy to enhance their language skills
  • Computer literacy & Health together with a holistic Life Orientation course
  • Introduction to Permaculture with a Nutritional component as well as a course in how to make value-added produce
  • Beekeeping and successful Animal Husbandry
Green Futures

Green Futures


The Green Futures Horticulture and Life Skills College provides an annual training programme on Grootbos to unemployed youths from the Gansbaai area in horticulture, indigenous gardening and life skills development. The course has been running since 2003 and 90% of graduates have found employment on completion of the course. This is a testament to the success of this unique training model developed by Grootbos personnel.

The horticultural component of the course includes plant identification, an appreciation of fynbos and its ecology, why and how it can be preserved, how to use it in indigenous gardening, fynbos propagation and nursery skills, garden design, as well as garden establishment and maintenance using water-wise techniques. All theory is backed up by a range of practical work in developing and maintaining gardens on Grootbos and for private clients. The sale of plants and provision of landscaping services by the students provides income to the college. In this way, through their labour, students help to pay for their own tuition.

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The life skills component of the course includes a first aid course, numeracy skills, literacy skills, health issues, an AIDS awareness programme, interpersonal skills, money management, basic computer skills, basic business skills as well as completing a driver’s license. The life skills component of the course has proven vital in assisting graduates to successfully find employment. In addition to the education curriculum, the college provides transport, breakfast and lunch, uniforms, equipment and a basic wage to students.


Every year, three of the best students are given the opportunity to visit and work at the Eden Project in Cornwall, United Kingdom. This is an amazing opportunity that opens their eyes to our dependence on plants and the natural world. The rest of the students are also provided with fascinating experiential training opportunities at Kirstenbosch and Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens. On completion of their course, the students are awarded a nationally accredited certificate in horticulture and are assisted in work placement.

Green Futures Nursery

The Green Futures Horticultural and Life Skills College has its own nursery which sells plants at wholesale prices. The plants are grown by the students as part of their training.  Green Futures has approximately 150 different species of indigenous plants!

Forest Rehabilitation

Forest Rehabilitation


The 2006 fire on Grootbos not only destroyed Forest Lodge, but also a large area of the ancient Milkwood forest behind the lodge. The fire struck the forest at midday, having burnt for more than a week under extremely hot and dry conditions. The result was that a large portion of the forest, including many ancient trees, was destroyed by the fire. 

The Future Trees Project aims to rehabilitate this area as well as other forest areas on Grootbos that have been impacted by human activities in the past. Early aerial photographs have provided a clear indication of changes to the forest edges as a result of human impacts, primarily wood cutting and exotic tree invasions over the last 80 years. Appropriate indigenous trees have been grown by the Green Futures students to be used for the rehabilitation of these areas. Visitors to Grootbos can support the rehabilitation of these ancient Milkwood forests as well as contribute to the work of the foundation by getting their hands dirty and planting a tree.

To date, close to 2,000 trees have been planted through the Forest Rehabilitation Project.




The Dibanisa Environmental Education Programme was started in 2010 and is a collaboration between the Grootbos Foundation, the Football Foundation and the Dyer Island Conservation Trust.

A group of 20 children are selected amongst applicants from local Gansbaai and Stanford schools. The students are then taken through a seven week programme that teaches them about their environment. The programme highlights the two main ecosystems i.e. Fynbos and the marine environment. 

Activities include:

  • Lessons about the importance of plants and sustainability
  • Lessons about the Marine Big 5
  • Art lessons 
  • Beach clean-up 
  • Outdoor nature camp 
Show Your Support

Show Your Support

Charity Reg: 2003/014519/08

Banking Details

  • Grootbos Green Futures Foundation
  • First National Bank, Hermanus
  • Branch code: 200412
  • Current account number: 62064420856
  • Swift Code: FIRNZAJJ

 You can help the Grootbos Foundation in the following ways: 

Plant a Tree - R350

Support the Future Trees Programme and the Foundation by planting a tree in the Forest Rehabilitation Project.

Buy a Grootbos Floral Guide - R220

The "Field Guide to the Flora of Grootbos Nature Reserve and the Walker Bay Region" is sold in aid of the Foundation.

Donate a Student Uniform - R1,000

Students are fully kitted out with a uniform, T-shirts, shoes, a cap and beanie for their time at Green Futures or Growing the Future.

Donate a Student's Gardening Tools - R100

Students receive a set of gardening tools at the start of their course. This consists of a large fork, a small fork, a large spade, a small spade and secateurs. 

Donate a Child's Sports Kit - R1,500

Besides football, the Football Foundation coaches hockey, netball and athletics to children aged six to 19 years of age. Support a child by sponsoring their sports kit.

 For more information on how you can help contact Grootbos Foundation directly.




Grootbos Foundation offers volunteer programmes that are tailor-made for individuals who are passionate about making a difference in the world. The programs are designed to give you the opportunity to get involved in a hands-on way and to leave a lasting footprint in South Africa.  Meet like-minded people, conserve, teach and develop valuable skills on this unique and truly rewarding journey!


Grootbos Foundation welcome volunteers from all backgrounds and nationalities. No qualifications or past experience is needed. Please note that a minimum stay of two months is required in order for you and the community to fully benefit from the programme.

Applicants must be at least 18 years of age and have:

  • People skills
  • Communication skills
  • Computer skills

Included in the Fee:

  • Transfer to and from Cape Town airport
  • Full orientation and induction upon arrival
  • A South African SIM card for your mobile phone
  • Accommodation 
  • Use of the communal volunteer car 
  • Social evenings and cultural activities
  • Certificate of Recognition upon completion
  • Reference letters on request
  • 24-hour emergency medical response in Gansbaai

Extra Activities included in the Fee:

  • Great White Shark Cage Diving 
  • Whale Boat trip
  • Township experience
  • Horse riding
  • Guided Milkwood forest walk
  • Hiking trail - Witvoetskloof
  • Guided Flower Safari drives
  • Wine tasting trip
  • Birding
  • Beach walks
  • Surfing (bring own surfboard)
  • Whale watching (land-based)

 Not included in the Fee:

  • Flights
  • Visas (where applicable)
  • Health and travel insurance
  • Meals
  • Laundry service
  • Personal expenses

What to Expect

As a volunteer, you will get involved with the ongoing and diverse social development and conservation projects which take place on the reserve and in the surrounding communities of Gansbaai, Stanford and Hermanus. You will stay in one of the richest floral kingdoms in the world – the Cape Floral Kingdom, surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, near the southernmost tip of Africa – Cape Agulhas, providing for breathtaking scenery. 

Apart from the vibrant projects, you will be supporting, there are very exciting activities lined up for you such as White Shark Cage Diving, Whale watching, horse riding, hiking, swimming and interacting with the local community. 

Grootbos Foundation staff live with or near you and are on call around-the-clock to make sure you are safe, informed and making the most out of your experience.

All staff have been involved in conservation and community development for many years and will be able to assist with any questions. They can also assist with advice on fundraising for your trip. The foundation can supply contact details of previous volunteers, or of fellow volunteers so that you can get in touch before your journey begins.

Placements run all year round, which allows for flexibility on start dates.

Your Stay

The volunteer programme includes various activities and excursions that will help to make this an adventure etched in your memory for years to come!

A dedicated volunteer coordinator will guide you on your journey from the initial application process, meet you at the airport, provide transport to Gansbaai and assist you with settling into the volunteer accommodation. 


You will be staying in a large communal volunteer house in Gansbaai, sharing bedrooms and bathroom facilities (including linen). All the rooms are single gender. 


Time off

The working week whilst on the project is Monday to Friday, and weekends when requested. Evenings, some mornings and the majority of the weekends are spent at leisure. During the evenings volunteers can relax at the accommodation or take advantage of the local restaurants and pubs. During weekends you can explore some of the surrounding attractions such as the Overberg, Cape Town, Cape Agulhas, Robertson, Montague or the Garden Route.

Please contact Grootbos Foundation directly for more information about the costs involved to become a Volunteer. 



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