Dr. Rene Haller
Our work is driven by Dr. Rene Haller, a Swiss born environmentalist, trained in horticulture, landscaping and tropical agronomy. Dr. Haller came to Africa in 1956, to supervise a coffee plantation on Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. In 1959, the Bamburi Cement Company in Kenya recruited him to produce fruit and vegetables for its workers. Although reclamation of industrial wasteland was virtually unheard of then, in 1970 Dr. Haller persuaded Bamburi Cement to extend his remit to rehabilitate the barren cement quarries along the Mombasa coastline.
Through careful observation of how plants and animals interact, and a series of trial and error experiments, Dr. Haller managed to transform the industrial wasteland into a flourishing natural park – now known as Haller Park. Over 1 million trees were planted in the quarry, and a range of insects, butterflies, birds and mammals were also introduced. Each plant, insect or animal had a purpose to keep the ecosystem in balance.
Haller Park is now home to a range of endangered flora and fauna, and is recognised by the Eden Project as one of the ten most effective environmental restoration projects in the world.
Haller Park became economically self-sustaining, supported by fish farming, beekeeping, tree nurseries and many other sustainable agricultural or wildlife enterprises.
Dr. Haller was awarded the United Nations Environment Programme Global 500 Roll of Honour, for his ‘outstanding environmental achievements.’
He received the Swiss Brandenberger prize, and was awarded with an honorary doctorate from the University of Basle. In 1991, Dr. Haller also set up The Baobab Trust, a non-profit organisation committed to environmental conservation through developing sustainable ecosystems.
Dr. Haller was appointed to the Board of the Kenyan Wildlife Service.
Haller was established. Haller works closely with The Baobab Trust and Dr. Haller sits on the board of both organisations.
Dr. Haller is also well known as the author of many publications on wasteland rehabilitation. His knowledge, innovations and principles inform the work that Haller does today.
Dr. Haller’s principles
1. Passion and Belief
Live your passion and believe in what you do.
2. Think Big, Start Small
Think big but start small – this allows you to test your actions and learn from your mistakes without risking great damage.
3. Self Sustaining Eco-Systems
Aim to create an eco-system where plants, animals and technologies are inter-dependent and self sustaining. So, for example, not just tree planting on its own – and no monocultures!
In nature there is no waste – it is man’s invention. If you see waste, think how to reduce it and ultimately how to use it
5. Biological Not Chemical
Use biological systems not chemical ones.
6. Animal Perspectives
Look at problems from an animal or plant’s perspective and imagine what is needed to make them grow and flourish – reducing animal stress will increase their resistance to disease.
Try to use indigenous plants and animals – foreign ones are likely to import problems.
8. Be Inventive
Be prepared to come up with and try out new ideas.
9. Local Knowledge
Find out what people in the area already know – learn from their wisdom, consult and involve them whenever possible.
Provide incentives for people to do the right thing – for example, encouraging people to value wildlife and their habitat, both intrinsically and as a source of income.
Don’t get too big and centralised – it makes sense to have production close to the source of the material.
Make sure that whatever is done makes economic sense – sometimes one project on its own won’t pay back but in conjunction with other projects it will.