The 2014 Madeira Islands Open – Portugal – BPI takes place amidst a newly reformed natural landscape this year after a huge tree regeneration programme at Clube de Golf do Santo da Serra which received the backing of The European Tour Green Drive, the European Union and Madeira’s local government.
For the last five years a huge change has been implemented over the stunning mountain-top course, with over 30,000 trees, which did not have any natural relevance to the Madeiran endemic landscape, removed from the outer boundaries of the course.
In their place, 16,500 trees were planted, all endemic and indigenous to the island. It is a project which has not only redeveloped and enhanced the area’s beautiful and scenic landscape, but has also played an integral part in maintaining, preserving and conserving its outstanding botanical beauty.
In addition, the club – in consultation with The European Tour’s agronomy team – has embarked on a project to change the fairway grass to the island’s indigenous kikuyu grass. Because kikuyu grass consumes much less water than the previous exotic trees, the club is expected to reduce course water usage by approximately 30%.
While the tree regeneration project has not had a significant impact on the lay-out of the course, European Tour officials have also regularly been consulted during this process.
Through Green Drive, The European Tour’s own sustainability initiative - established last year to support and showcase environmental and community action across the organisation’s operations, venues and tournaments – staff agronomers and tournament directors have advised on the turf management and the location of the new trees in relation to the course.
It is a hugely positive step forward for the host venue, the island and The European Tour, and one which Clube de Golf do Santo da Serra’s Director Ricardo Abreu believes has been a massive success.
“We have been working on this for five years,” said Abreu. “Two years ago we started to prepare and plant the trees and this year the plantation finished.
“It hasn’t changed the course much because it was mostly in areas which did not directly interfere with the course. The only thing is that with new, smaller trees, the course is now much more open and so the wind blows a bit more.
“The views are much better now and one of the key advantages this unique course has is the beautiful scenery.
“Around 75% of the plants are endemic and natural to Madeira. A lot of the previous plants were invasive and to save water we needed to remove them. Trees like Eucalyptus used a lot of water.
“So with the local government, we began a project which needed the support of the European Union, and as part of that 75% of the new trees had to be endemic and 25% exotic.”
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