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South Africa's Grootbos Private Nature Reserve is home to fynbos shrubland, which provides habitat for the native orange-breasted sunbird. (Photograph by Grootbos Private Nature Reserve)

Trending: Private Nature Reserves

A notable thing is taking place around the globe: Communities and conservation entrepreneurs are creating private nature reserves, from coral lagoons in Asia to sanctuaries in the Americas.

Travelers to Africa will find private wildlife reserves near national parks. Case in point: South Africa’s Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, which manages 6,178 acres of reclaimed habitat, including native fynbos shrubland.

Two hours southeast of Cape Town, Grootbos—one of the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World—was a mosaic of abandoned farms and degraded lands when Michael Lutzeyer laid eyes on it in 1991.

“Here was one of Earth’s rarest ecosystems, what botanists call the Cape Floral Kingdom, with no protection,” says the Cape Town native. “My wife and I pulled together what cash we could to conserve it ourselves.”

Today Grootbos employs villagers and funds such community programs as a horticulture college offering job training for unemployed youth.

It joins a worldwide trend of private reserves that are producing conservation success stories, a good thing for our natural world—and us travelers.

Nat Geo World Legacy Awards honor sustainable tourism in action.

Traveler editor at large Costas Christ is on the sustainable travel beat at National Geographic. Follow him on Twitter @CostasChrist.

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