Pioneer of sustainability – Dr Hans Merensky (1871-1952)
From geologist and prospector...
Throughout his professional career, Dr Hans Merensky was a geologist and prospector. He discovered the rich deposit of alluvial diamonds at Alexander bay in Namaqualand, Namibia; vast platinum and chrome reefs at Lydenburg, Rustenburg and Potgietersrus in South Africa, which led to some of the largest platinum mines in the world; phosphates and copper at Phalaborwa in the Northern Province of South Africa; gold in South Africa’s Free State Province; and the world’s biggest chrome deposit at Jagdlust near Pietersburg in the Mpumalanga Province.
To forward-thinking scientist, conservationist and philanthropist
After retiring in 1932 he turned his skill to the sustainable use of land on the farm Westfalia, near Modjajiskloof in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. He created a sustainable mixed-farming business incorporating both the establishment of Eucalyptus plantations and sustainable long-term agriculture based on ecologically-sound management of biological ecosystems, which included the conservation and management of water-catchment areas, soil conservation and organic principles of composting. He was internationally recognised as being one of the most progressive thinkers in the field of sustainable farming in his time. In addition, his understanding of social responsibility and long-term relationships with communities in the area was generations ahead of his time. As his legacy he allotted the larger part of his fortune to the Hans Merensky Trust, which is now the Hans Merensky Foundation, to ensure that his projects in agriculture, horticulture and forestry operations on the Westfalia Estate would be sustained after his death.