BDI Tiny Home Project

The Biodiversity & Development Institute  – a non-profit international organisation – has chosen Fynbos Estate for their Tiny Home Project. The BDI team headed by Pete, Dieter and Les designed an extraordinary small mobile home to put up international students coming to do biodiversity research.  

The project was launched a few weeks ago with a roof wetting at Fynbos and not even rain could dampen everyone’s spirits.  

The Tiny Home is not just any small mobile house. It is a fantastic testimony to our capacity to devise living quarters with pretty much no footprint whatsoever. Here are some pictures of the process and features.

The home’s solar panels provide hot water and energy for lights. USB ports and other appliances using 12 volts or 230 volts at the flip of a switch. There is a compositor toilet which is not only clean and fragrant but the contents can be used on plant beds as fertilizer. All that is required of us is clean water once a week and this allows for showers and taps and drinking. Water is recycled and can be used in a small washing machine and is also piped out into the garden. The only minimal footprint comes from a gas cooker.

Quite apart from the above functions, the Tiny Home, is as the first students said, ‘cute’. It’s light and bright and beautifully furnished in modern greys and blues and it has, thanks to its location beneath Dragonridge, fabulous views in every direction.

Pete and Hendrik who worked directly on the house are rightly proud of this prototype house which they call the PANGOPOD. It was an extraordinary creation which took enormous ingenuity and hard work, and Pete says they will now work on bringing the cost down, making changes here and there and then putting it out there in the world. One thought is as an alternative to RDP houses and t for responsible tourism. Oh and what about granny flats, student accommodation …………

We at Fynbos are incredibly proud to be the location for the first Tiny Home and very excited about the research that international and South African students will do here. We will share this with you as they go along.

One area particularly of interest is that of bird ringing; where birds are harmlessly netted, ringed and measured and then quickly released. This gives a wealth of information. (see BDI link below).

Here are some of the birds recently netted on Fynbos and released.

More information about the Biodiversity and Development Institute:

BDI website:

The Biodiversity and Development Institute (BDI) is a non-profit company designed to foster research and community action in the fields of biodiversity conservation and social development. The Biodiversity and Development Institute is composed of three departments which operate under six independent models that have overlapping missions. The Citizen Science Department seeks to connect people with conservation- and development-related research projects and seeks to help orchestrate that research, disseminate the results, and support community action. The Research Consulting Department seeks to promote rigorous research in conservation and development by providing technical and logistical support to the existing research community. The Research Training Department seeks to train and build the capacity of research professionals across several rungs of the research ladder, including under-graduate students, post-graduate students, field assistants, and early-career scientists.

The Citizen Science Department of the Biodiversity and Development Institute seeks to link citizens who have an existing interest in biodiversity and development research with opportunities where they can volunteer on and contribute to long-term research projects. In the process of training and assisting students, providing immersive opportunities for informal researchers, and collaborating with local communities, the Biodiversity and Development Institute’s mission is to transform all stakeholders into citizen scientists.

As part of this department, the Biodiversity and Development Institute runs bird ringing expeditions in Africa, in which bird ringing enthusiasts can contribute valuable data to long-term ringing projects, whilst having an immersive bird ringing experience with African bird species. These expeditions are led by expert ringers at sites specially-selected in key African habitats. These expeditions combine citizen science with opportunities to explore some of Africa’s iconic bird species and habitats.

The Research Training Department provides training and continuing education opportunities in the fields of quantitative analysis, citizen science, database management, academic writing and workflow, and ecological field research. This department creates these opportunities in the form of tutoring, workshops, traditional in-class courses, and distributed or online courses. This Biodiversity and Development Institute department also provides fundamental training in conducting field research. This department establishes field sites by drawing on a considerable network of landowners and communities who want research to be done in their areas. This department sources local and international under-graduate students, post-graduate students, volunteers, and interns, to conduct research projects at those sites.

You can read more on their website here: BDI Newsletter July 2019