Johannesburg, South Africa. Ten years after opening its South African factory in Kya Sands, Gauteng, Royal Canin South Africa’s Eco Industrial Park has, in June 2013, been awarded the prestigious international Eve® Ecological Area Certification from ECOCERT, an international certification body for sustainable development. This is the first certified Eve® site outside Europe, and it makes the Royal Canin Eco Industrial Park the first certified industrial Eve® site in the world!
The Eve® standard for ecological outdoor spaces was developed by ECOCERT in 2006 at the request of local authorities, in conjunction with a committee of experts and professionals in outdoor spaces and the environment. This independent committee rules on the standard’s content and on the awarding of the label for each outdoor space candidate. ECOCERT’s Eve® standard is intended to promote environmentally friendly practices in the management of outdoor spaces.
Royal Canin South Africa managing director, Frederick Desbrosses, is proud of this unique world leading achievement. “Royal Canin’s philosophy of putting the animal first in everything we do extends to our environment and the restoration of local biodiversity,” he says. “Our commitment is to the planet and the onus is on every global citizen, private and corporate, to reduce an increasingly negative impact on our environment. The future of our children’s home depends on the actions we take today. Royal Canin’s factory has ensured that industry blends with nature, enjoys a symmetry with the environment and proves that biodiversity can be restored in factory gardens.”
The company’s factory surrounding is an ecological environment that recreates a landscape that existed in the area long before man discovered it. Natural biodiversity has been restored and the return of hundreds of species of plants, animals and insects bears testament to the success of the site.
The Royal Canin Eco Industrial Park has become a global model for local biodiversity in a manufacturing environment. Faced with a denuded site in 2003 devoid of any vegetation, the Royal Canin Eco Park had humble beginnings. Boulders and sand surrounding the factory’s hard landscaping was what greeted John Masson’s local biodiversity company, Local Biodiversity Solutions (LBS), commissioned to transform the site into an environmentally friendly, indigenous landscape.
Consulting with two visionary Royal Canin leaders – one of them a South African veterinarian, Dr Charles Moore, Masson set about developing the Eco Park. At the outset, only 10 species of bird could be spotted making an occasional visit to an odd tree or bush scattered around the perimetre of the site. Today, a mere 10 years later, the site boasts no less than 180 bird species that not only visit the site regularly, but have also found a nesting place for breeding. An important bio-indicator of sustainability and biodiversity, the number of bird species is monitored on a monthly basis and there is always excitement when a new species is spotted.
The site dedicates slightly more than half of its entire area to the Eco Park and all Highveld indigenous grasses (28 species), trees, shrubs (24 varieties) and herbaceous plants (49 species) have been re-established successfully, providing a natural environment for small mammals and amphibians, reptiles and fish now home to the natural wetland system.
The Royal Canin Eco Park is fully self-sustainable with no reliance for water from municipal sources but rather from the factory’s water recycling plant where it is treated and pumped into a dam. Waterfalls help to oxygenate the water while aerobic bacteria in the water help to remove odour and pathogens and play an important role in maintaining the Park’s wetland system. The regions natural rainfall patterns provide the balance of the water requirements for the park. Two smaller overflow dams are favourite breeding sites of the endangered Giant African Bullfrog, a red data species.
Globally, Royal Canin has always been dedicated to preserving the environment through planet initiatives, to ensure a sustainable future for generations to come. This is achieved through measurable reduction of waste, reduced the dependence on natural resources where possible, and reducing the industrial carbon footprint. Not only is the Eco Park an aspirational and educational example for other manufacturing environments in South Africa and indeed, the world, but it provides a working model of how the indigenous environment can integrate seamlessly with industry.
To qualify for the Eve® label, management of outdoor spaces must meet the following criteria:
· No chemicals, i.e. herbicides, phyto-sanitary products, synthetic fertilizers.
· A water conservation policy with knowledge of water consumption volumes and the application of a water-use reduction plan.
· Attention must be paid to the site’s soil, which is to be regarded as a living environment and not a mere growing medium, with mulching, organic matter supplements and regular monitoring.
· Steps must be in place to encourage biodiversity
· Once certified, the site must be ecologically managed and is subject to an annual audit in order to keep the certification
· Certified sites must be ecologically managed and are subject to annual audits to retain the Eve® Ecological Area Certification
Desbrosses concludes, “Royal Canin’s environmental management programme is designed to ensure sustainability. We are exceptionally proud that the Royal Canin Eco Industrial Park has set the standard for manufacturing concerns worldwide. It has become a model that is being used to develop similar sites across the world. We sincerely hope more companies will now pay attention to the impact of their footprint in the natural environment.”
A pioneer company in health nutrition, Royal Canin is committed to giving the most adequate nutritional answers to the specific requirements of dogs and cats. Founded in 1968 by a veterinarian, its distinctive philosophy “cats and dogs first”, places the animal at the heart of innovation process to improve its welfare and health. This purpose is based on a demanding ethics code and a collaborative approach with vets, scientists and breeders that led the company to international recognition and leadership. Royal Canin is committed to global sustainable development, thanks to more than 6200 associates in over 90 countries that strive to make a difference to people and the planet through the company’s performance.