Promoting healthy ecosystems to build resilience to climate change

Projects

1.3 Action – Mitigation (Restoration): Riparian Habitat Rehabilitation Project in the Karoo

EWT Riverine Rabbit Programme:

The Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Riverine Rabbit Programme (EWT-RRP) is aimed at the conservation and protection of the critically endangered Riverine Rabbit (Bunolagus monticularis). The Riverine Rabbit is endemic to the seasonal riverine systems in the Nama Karoo. It is an important biological indicator species and the absence of Riverine Rabbit in confirmed suitable habitat suggests that the Riparian system in question is functioning as it should. Nama Karoo river systems have been damaged by farming practices and other human activities that have resulted in extensive erosion and degradation in and around riparian habitats of the Riverine Rabbit. This degradation coupled with the expected impacts of climate change in South Africa’s arid and semi-arid zones provides a strong incentive for the rehabilitation and restoration of these habitats.
EWT-RRP’s Riparian Habitat Rehabilitation Project is aimed at developing and implementing strategies to rehabilitate the precious but heavily degraded freshwater systems in the Karoo. The project, based in the small town of Loxton in the Northern Cape, aims to combine sustainable water and biodiversity conservation with job creation and the development of skills for members of the local community.

EWT-RRP Indigenous Nursery:

The nursery, located in Loxton, has expanded gradually from two trained half-day nursery workers to six in 2011. Through a process of experimentation the indigenous plant nursery now propagates eight species of indigenous plants that are found to establish themselves in local riparian ecosystems with a high success rate. The plants propagated in the nursery are used for planting out at rehabilitation sites around Loxton. The EWT team has experimented with a variety of planting techniques and is now exploring the viability of seed banks and seed islands for land restoration without necessarily having to propagate and care for plants in a nursery environment.

All plants propagated in 2008 and 2009 were planted the three trial rehabilitation sites during the course of 2010. The plants grown during 2010 were planted in strategically selected areas intended to form corridors between or within optimum habitats for the Riverine Rabbit.

Riparian habitat rehabilitation and conservation of valuable top soils:

The three pilot rehabilitation sites are located on the private farms Sakrivierspoort, Dunedin and Lapfontein. Conservation Management Services led the rehabilitation work and trained the project coordinator and three local men from Loxton in land restoration techniques. In this semi-arid environment, rehabilitation techniques are aimed at trapping valuable water, topsoil, seeds and organic matter in man-made hollows. These hollows then act form favourable micro-environments, assisting with the natural germination and growth of plants.

Contact:

Dr Vicky Nel - Manager: Riverine Rabbit Programme
E-Mail: vickya@ewt.org.za
Tel: +27(0)53 - 381 3068
Fax: +27(0)53 - 381 3068 or (0)11 - 486 1506

or

Ryno Erasmus - Senior field officer
E-Mail: rynoe@ewt.org.za
Tel: +27(0)53 - 381 3068
Fax: +27(0)53 - 381 3068




Click the image to enlarge: Map of the Sak River Conservancy
Map of the Sak River Conservancy
Click the image to enlarge: Completed hollows are mulched with chipped reeds to provide cover, so-reducing evaporative water loss and facilitating the replenishment of groundwater supplies.
Completed hollows are mulched with chipped reeds to provide cover, so-reducing evaporative water loss and facilitating the replenishment of groundwater supplies.
Click the image to enlarge: The same site a few hours later. Workers constructed hollows to trap water, soil, seeds and plant material, providing a suitable spot for seeds to germinate.
The same site a few hours later. Workers constructed hollows to trap water, soil, seeds and plant material, providing a suitable spot for seeds to germinate.
Click the image to enlarge: A section on the Sakrivierspoort rehabilitation site prior to rehabilitation work. This site is an example of sheet erosion and the hollows methods will be used.
A section on the Sakrivierspoort rehabilitation site prior to rehabilitation work. This site is an example of sheet erosion and the hollows methods will be used.
Click the image to enlarge: The rehabilitation workers from Conservation Management Services and workers from Loxton in action at the first trial rehabilitation site on Sakrivierspoort, Northern Cape.
The rehabilitation workers from Conservation Management Services and workers from Loxton in action at the first trial rehabilitation site on Sakrivierspoort, Northern Cape.
Click the image to enlarge: In April and July 2009 the project coordinator, together with Wallie Stroebel and Ken Coetzee from CMS selected the first 3 trial rehabilitation sites.
In April and July 2009 the project coordinator, together with Wallie Stroebel and Ken Coetzee from CMS selected the first 3 trial rehabilitation sites.
Click the image to enlarge: Soil erosion is a common sight along the seasonal Karoo rivers. The Rehabilitation project restores such areas to prevent further losses in topsoil and run-off.
Soil erosion is a common sight along the seasonal Karoo rivers. The Rehabilitation project restores such areas to prevent further losses in topsoil and run-off.
Click the image to enlarge: Three of the nursery workers visiting one of the trial rehabilitation sites on the farm Dunedin.
Three of the nursery workers visiting one of the trial rehabilitation sites on the farm Dunedin.
Click the image to enlarge: The EWT-RRWG nursery was recently upgraded with 10% shade cloth. This resulted in faster growth rates of nursery plants.
The EWT-RRWG nursery was recently upgraded with 10% shade cloth. This resulted in faster growth rates of nursery plants.
Click the image to enlarge: Juvenile Pentzia incana (skaapbossie) propagated from a cutting. Skaapbossie occurs naturally in riparian vegetation
Juvenile Pentzia incana (skaapbossie) propagated from a cutting. Skaapbossie occurs naturally in riparian vegetation
Posted: 4/13/2011 (4:10:00 AM)

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