The R&A - Working for Golf

New Olympic Golf Course achieves GEO sustainability recognition

The new Olympic Golf Course in Rio de Janeiro has recently been recognised for its commitment and contribution to the enhancement of the environment, achieving GEO Certified® Development status.

The achievement recognises the many nature conservation and resource efficiency activities undertaken to date, and takes into account the longer-term net positive social and environmental impacts that the facility is set to deliver.

A spokesperson for the Golf Environment Organization (GEO) said, “While this has been a complex and sensitive project, developed under tight deadlines, requiring considerable additional monitoring and evaluation from staff and the accredited, independent auditor, the work carried out by the design, construction and maintenance teams delivers against established best practices and industry standards.

Reflecting on the award, Antony Scanlon, Executive Director of the International Golf Federation (IGF), added, “The IGF is delighted that more than three years of planning, design and construction of the Reserva de Marapendi Golf Course have culminated in the course being awarded GEO Certified® Development status.

An expert report released in February 2016 by the State of Rio de Janeiro’s Department of Justice, the construction of the Olympic Golf Course in Barra da Tijuca has contributed to the growth of local vegetation in the Marapendi area, ensuring the return of different species of animals to a once degraded area.

Carina Flores, Rio 2016 sustainability coordinator, said in reference to this report,  “The environmental gain in the region is visible. Besides the flora, which increased extensively, we can observe the different species of animals that have returned to the area. The report now provides a scientific stamp to what we had already observed”.

The Olympic Golf Course in Rio de Janeiro.
The Olympic Golf Course in Rio de Janeiro

Notable actions and achievements highlighted in the independent GEO Certified® Development report include:


  • 167% increase in vegetation cover
  • Successful transplantation of more than 15,000 native plants with 95% success rate for establishment
  • Long term ecological and environmental monitoring and management plan in place and approved by local authorities
  • Net increase in biodiversity reported of 118 to 263 species found on the site
  • Speedy re-colonisation by rare and protected species including burrowing owl, caiman, capybara, lapwings, sandpipers and egrets


  • Use of entirely on site construction materials - no extra sand or soil imported
  • Use of the most drought and pest tolerant turfgrass species for the site, propagated in Brazil, which also allows for lower quality irrigation water, reducing need for water treatment
  • Clubhouse utilisation of local, recycled and certified materials


  • Agreement between the Rio municipality and Brazilian Golf Confederation to run the facility, with free access to the public, as the Brazilian golf centre of excellence, which will include:
    • A high performance Golf Academy - to improve the quantity and the quality of the Brazilian players in the world rankings
    • An environmental education centre to increase awareness about the environment and sustainable golf development at the local schools and communities
    • A knowledge and technical centre for youths aged 14-18, to promote social inclusion through sport, offering caddie, coach and referee development programmes and specialised vocational training in greenkeeping and sports turf, Machine Operator and environmental management.

For more on this story visit the IGF or the GEO websites.