Biodiversity and our planets well-being: How golf plays its part.

Oct 15, 2020 | Info Brief

Principle 13 in the KingIVTM Report on Corporate Governance for South Africa states that; “the governing body should govern compliance with applicable laws and adopted, non-binding rules, codes and standards in a way that supports the organisation, such as golf clubs, being ethical and a good corporate citizen”. In this regard the John Collier Annual Survey illustrates just how much legislation has been promulgated regarding biodiversity. The knowledge of applicable biodiversity laws and their implementation is central to the sustainability of a golf club. There are many clubs throughout South Africa which are doing amazing things regarding biodiversity, but biodiversity loss and the degradation of its contributions to our planet’s well-being continues.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the importance of the relationship between people and nature. We are reminded that when we destroy and degrade biodiversity, we undermine the web of life and increase the risk of disease spill-over from wildlife to people. Responses to the pandemic provide a unique opportunity for transformative change, as an investment in the health, at the local level of the golf club, and in our planet, while also being an investment in our own future.

The United Nations recently reported global data showing that two in five of the world’s plant species are at risk of extinction because of the destruction of the natural world. Seventy five percent of the Earth’s land surface has been significantly altered by human actions, including for example the loss of eighty-five percent of wetlands’ areas. At the same time, sixty six percent of the ocean area is experiencing multiple impacts from human activity, including commercial fishing, pollution, and chemical changes from acidification. There is a view that we are losing a race against time as we are probably losing species faster than we can find and name them.

The direct causes of biodiversity loss are many and have either grown steadily or accelerated in recent decades, however solutions to the loss of biodiversity can be found. It is in this regard that Golf Clubs can make their contribution. Sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity is key to ensure that no one is left behind, but urgent action on biodiversity for sustainable development is needed by everyone. This includes golf clubs and in participating they will emphasise their status as being good corporate citizens. One action golf club management could take is to go back to basics and implement a biodiversity policy and procedure. In this regard recent research published in the John Collier Annual Survey indicates a twenty five percent compliance level by golf courses in respect of having a biodiversity policy and programs in place.

For further assistance and more information, please do not hesitate to contact us at

Yours in Sustainable Golf,

John Collier