German born Sabine Plattner fell in love with Africa and its wildlife when she first came to South Africa in 1978. In 2007 she travelled to the Republic of the Congo to set up an environmental education program for villagers in Odzala-Kokoua National Park. Realising that conservation doesn’t work sustainably without commerce, Sabine set out to build lodges in the area to bring in much needed tourism. In 2013 Odzala-Kokoua’s second lodge was complete providing jobs for the local community as well as a base from which to research Africa’s endangered Western Lowland Gorillas.
Sabine grew up in Freiburg, Germany, not long after the Second World War. From a very early age she was exposed to the principles of right and wrong, as well as to a very basic lifestyle, especially as a result of the war. Growing up in Freiberg, with its beautiful surrounding forests, she developed a deep love for nature.As her business interests grew, she became more interested in Africa, which she has traveled extensively, developing a love and understanding for Africa and her people. Together with her husband, Dr Hasso Plattner, Sabine is the co-owner of Fancourt a prestigious five-star golf resort, near George in South Africa, in combination with a Real Estate development. She owns horse-breeding facilities and stables in both Germany and South-Africa. In Germany she is known for her cause for Icelandic horses and internationally she is known in the race horse industry, as trainer and breeder. She is involved in different charities including the Fancourt Foundation which primarily supports child welfare. Together with Pieter-Dirk Uys, well-known performing artist and satirist, as well as the Nobel Price Winner, Archbishop (Emeritus) Desmond Tutu, Sabine is a Patron of the Darling Trust, an outreach attempting to proactively prevent HIV/AIDS. Sabine is also one of the International Patrons and a Director of LCA through her foundation called Sabine Plattner Africa Charities (SPAC). Presently she is playing a major role in the development of the Odzala Kokoua National Park in the Republic of Congo, as well as conservation-led development in various African countries.
Sabine Plattner Africa Charities (SPAC)
Sabine Plattner African Charities (SPAC) combines education, biodiversity research, skills training, and job creation into a holistic, sustainable approach to conservation in the communities around Africa’s protected areas.Many African Communities face difficult challenges to meeting basic needs such as health, education and economic empowerment. At the same time, African nature is rapidly being degraded as communities turn towards these resources to help make ends meet. Providing communities with the tools needed to break the cycle of poverty is the first step in insuring their participation in rational use and conservation of their natural heritage. Providing safe places where children can learn as they grow gives them a childhood that is the foundation for better development. Happy, healthy and educated children become spokespeople for their environment and help their parents appreciate conservation. These children are African nature’s stewards who will persistently protect nature for future generations. Creating community centers in target communities creates safe places where teachers, parents and children come together to learn how to help themselves. Rural African communities often lack opportunity for cash incomes. People often turn to exploiting the natural resources as the only source of cash. Many of these activities, hunting, farming and harvesting are not sustainable and will only provide short-term solutions while depleting the resources for future generations. Jobs created by conservation and eco-tourism directly and indirectly help people take control of their own destinies and preserve their future by providing alternatives to destructive practices. SPAC emphasizes the importance of listening the local people’s voices and using education, economic empowerment, and conservation to meet their needs and aspirations, and to help them develop and achieve mutual goals in ways that contribute to the greater good of Africa’s protected areas and all its residents. SPAC’s core activities consist of increasing people’s capacity and supporting them in the struggle against poaching and exploitative use of natural resources. SPAC’s community support initiatives include the construction of community centers, the implementation of early childhood development programs, rural and urban education, biodiversity research, and the creation of opportunities for technical skills development and jobs, particularly through research and community tourism initiatives.
LCA co-founder Mrs Sabine Plattner awarded German Order of Merit for conservation efforts in Congo - February 2019
Leadership for Conservation in Africa co-founder and board member Mrs Sabine Plattner was last week awarded the highest tribute the Federal Republic of Germany can pay to individuals for services to the nation for her conservation efforts in the Republic of the Congo.Since 2007 Mrs Plattner has been actively involved in conservation projects in Congo, most notably various projects around the protection, community, educational and eco-tourism development in and around Odzala Kokoua and Nouabalé Ndoki National Parks. In a prestigious ceremony at the Radisson in Brazzaville, Mrs Plattner was awarded the ribbon of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany by ambassador Klaus Peter Schick, on behalf of the President of Germany, Frank Walter Steinmeier. “With this decoration, the German President pays tribute to a great lady, a modest woman, who does not like to hear much about her good deeds publicly,” Schick said. “The President wanted to pay tribute to her and at the same time, he also wanted to pay tribute to the actions of many Congolese leaders, international organizations and individuals, who have laid the foundations, over the years, for the protection of tropical forests, first and foremost His Excellency President Denis Sassou Nguesso. They are the first layer of defence against deforestation and without them the cause of protecting the rainforests, is lost.”
Mrs Plattner’s merit recognition ceremony was attended by Ministers Arlette Soudan-Nonault of Tourism and Environment and Rosalie Matondo of the Forest Economy and Sustainable Development. In a beautiful show of support and care, Mrs Plattner’s two daughters, Steffi and Tina dialled in via Skype from Germany and Cape Town and was able to witness their mother receive this esteemed award for her dedication to conservation.“I know that I cannot change the world – neither would businesses on its own, nor would politicians fighting for their own term of office. I have come to the conclusion that we, the ones who visionary see into the future (whether we are conservationists, educationalists, business people or politicians) – we who understand the value of long-term interventions, we have to stand together and bring about the change. Don’t rely on others to do it, simply take the responsibility upon yourself and like Mahatma Ghandi said. ‘Be the change you wish to see in the future’,” Mrs Plattner said upon receiving the award.
Since 2007, Mrs Plattner has been actively involved in the protection of tropical forests, as president of Sabine-Plattner African Charities and owner of Congo Conservation Company. Her footprint has gradually spread not only in the Congo but also in the Congo Basin, where she has carried out several actions, in particular the financing in 2008 of the first feasibility studies of tourism for the Odzala Kokoua park, and the LCA in Congo, resulting in the founding of Odzala Kokoua and Nouabalé Ndoki foundations, functioning as public-private partners.In collaboration with the Congolese Ministry of Education she has also launched an early childhood development programme called Sanza Mobimba in the surrounding communities of Odzala. This programme serves as a preparatory phase for children before they enter primary school. “I want to encourage all of you to take up your calling to help save the rainforests to fight the global crisis of climate warming – but, never forget those communities who live in these remote areas, surrounding the forests.”