African Conservation Development Group is an experienced developer of sustainable, integrated land use projects in Africa, specialising in climate-smart, conservation-led development.
We design land-use plans that allocate rights optimally for the ecosystem and ensure their effective implementation. We secure and hold the land rights, raise public and private sector capital and mobilise specialist technical and institutional resources to unlock the full commercial, ecological and social value of an ecosystem.
The philosophy and model guiding the African Conservation Development Group’s approach has evolved and been refined over the past 30 years. The notion that underutilised land and natural resources in Africa, consolidated and packaged with defined use rights, could produce attractive returns while restoring ecological integrity, was first demonstrated by Conservation Corporation, co-founded by Alan Bernstein, Kevin Leo-Smith and others in the early 1990s.
Its consolidation of non-viable and ecologically damaged farms and reintroduction of thousands of wild animals to the land led to the formation of the renowned Phinda Game Reserve and laid the foundation for the most respected wildlife tourism company in Africa, now known as &Beyond. Under Alan’s guidance, Conservation Corporation grew to employ 3,000 staff across 40+ ecotourism businesses and related conservation programmes in six countries in East and Southern Africa.
Over the years, Alan and Kevin and a close-knit team of specialists broadened the initial focus on conservation and traversing rights to encompass integrated, sustainable land-use planning at a large scale while recognising the value of a diverse range of ecosystem services. In the process, they have acquired almost unsurpassed expertise in the fields of ecology, wildlife-based tourism, sustainable forestry, natural capital valuation, green financing and carbon offset markets.
Our track record
A direct precursor to the African Conservation Development Group, SFM Limited was co-founded by Alan in 2000 as a global developer of sustainable forestry projects and carbon offset programmes. Over the ensuing years, the company built up a portfolio of forestry investments in Africa, South America, Indonesia and Australia, developing innovative methodologies to derive multiple revenue streams and value from forestry assets.
During this time, SFM initiated and advanced progressive climate finance and carbon trading methodologies and played a significant role in global climate change forums and negotiations. In 2009, Alan Bernstein and co-shareholders acquired SFM and sold its South American and Australasian interests to focus on developing sustainable forestry and other land-use assets in Africa.
Since 2010, the company has focused on developing large-scale sustainable development projects in Africa and the associated securitisation of environmental rights. Prior to the decision to concentrate on the significant opportunity represented by Grande Mayumba in Gabon, SFM Africa initiated a series of projects in South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia, Tanzania and Republic of Guinea.
Alongside these initiatives, the company championed the development of standardised accounting methodologies for natural capital valuation, which have become generally accepted today.