Promoting healthy ecosystems to build resilience to climate change


1.5. Action - Adaptation: Conservation South Africa and the Namaqualand Green Economy Demonstration

Conservation South Africa (CSA) promotes the message that intact ecosystems are essential for reducing the vulnerability of urban farming, fishing and coastal mining communities to the negative impacts of climate change and extreme weather events.

On the ground, CSA promotes conservation stewardship. We believe that stewardship encourages land users to protect ecosystems required to provide resilience to climate change by enabling and motivating them to either set aside a portion of their land for conservation or to use their lands more sustainably. In exchange, the CSA team and local conservation authorities provide incentives and support through formal agreements with the land-owners. This results in strategic work in a few critical areas reducing vulnerability for entire communities.

Our strategy of influencing policy, developing markets, communicating conservation messages, and building local capacity works to provide the basis for sound conservation-based economic growth models and long-term human well-being that can be replicated on a global scale. In South Africa, we aim to influence government and donors to integrate ecological approaches into their strategies to respond to climate change. We will continue to support the maintenance and restoration of ecosystems services, particularly water catchments and habitat linkages for optimal floral and faunal persistence, through the empowerment of private and communal land stewards in the mega-corridors in which we are active.

The Namaqualand Green Economy Demonstration: Building resilience and adapting to climate change:

The Namaqualand Green Economy Demonstration (NGED) has a vision to establish a biodiversity corridor of 387 000 ha of land that will have a matrix of sustainable land uses and will enable continued ecosystem functioning at a landscape level. These land uses will be compatible with conservation whilst at the same time providing livelihood options to the inhabitants of the area. The NGED corridor in the Northern Cape Province in South Africa stretches from the Kamiesberg Mountains, through communal lands where over 90% of the Leliefontein farmers and 25% of the private farmers in the area are signed-up stewards in the process of forming a conservancy. It also incorporates the Namaqua National Park and DeBeers-owned land stretching down to the Atlantic coastline. This area includes a variety of ecosystems and gradients and our ultimate goal is that it will act as a corridor for species migration in response to climate change. The corridor is home to several endemic vegetation types and wetlands of importance, and is a major catchment area.

The NGED projects are particularly focused on forming the stewardship corridor and creating opportunities for local people to engage in alternative livelihood options as a means of adapting to climate change. Given that climate change is expected to negatively impact the sustainability of traditional local industries like stock farming and mining, it is important that alternative livelihoods and adaptation strategies are implemented.

(1) The Biodiversity and Red Meat Initiative:

The Biodiversity and Red Meat Initiative is one of the NGED projects. This initiative implements conservation stewardship in the Kamiesberg Uplands, also known as the Three Peaks Area, which contains three of the highest peaks in the Northern Cape.

Climate change aspects: The area has been identified as important for ensuring resilience against climate change. The area is important for biodiversity as certain species will be able to use the Kamiesberg as refuge due to its higher rainfall and cooler climate or make use of the various gradients included in the corridor to move to more suitable habitat in response to climate change. It is also important to conserve in terms of human livelihoods, especially water security. The Kamiesberg is the catchment for two important non-perennial rivers in the area, the Groen River and the Buffels River, and is also home to a network of wetlands important for storing water when it rains and then slowly releasing it in the dry summer months. This area is the NGED priority area in which stewardship is rolled out, and consists of a 21000 ha matrix of private and communal farmland.

Wetlands management, ecosystem and sustainable development aspects: Stewardship in the Three Peaks Priority Area is approached from a livelihoods perspective. As stock farming is the largest industry in the Kamiesberg, the BRI focuses on signing stewardship agreements with both communal and private stock farmers. The Three Peaks is unique in the region because of its elevation and is home to one near-endemic and one endemic vegetation type, Namaqualand Granite Renosterveld and Kamiesberg Granite Fynbos respectively, both of which are under threat from unsustainable farming activities such as overgrazing, ploughing up of wetlands and indiscriminate burning. The area is also home the Cape leopard which, together with other vertebrate species, is under threat from indiscriminate predator control. Many endemic insect species, some of whom rely on the mountain streams and wetlands in the area for their continued existence, persist in the Kamiesberg. These threats to biodiversity are addressed through formal stewardship agreements in which farmers undertake to implement certain conservation actions including stock reduction, cooperation with wetland restoration and the formation of a fire management plan and alternative predator control methods. In return, CSA implements enabling actions that will support farmers in adopting these better land management practices. BRI has forged a number of additional partnerships with government departments, non-governmental organizations and private land owners.

Vulnerability and livelihoods: CSA has assisted the members, the stewards, of BRI to form an association which is now implementing further projects including a Seedbank and wetland restoration projects. . Green Choice, an CSA and WWF-SA partnership initiative, supports the BRI through its well-managed farm reference guidelines, eco-ranger training, and monitoring and evaluation assistance.

The initiative initially started with a 1 year pilot which ended in June 2010. A ‘lessons learned’ document was compiled and recommendations for a second phase were made. During the first phase 22 farmers joined the initiative, 2 private farmers and 20 communal farmers. The area under better management was about 9000 ha. During 2011, the BRI added 23 additional communal farmers and another 2 private farmers. The BRI continues to encourage stewardship and will expand the area under better management to the entire 21000 ha Three Peaks Priority Area. CSA has worked with the BRI to develop alternative predator management strategies including Anatolian Shepard Dogs and Eco-rangers.

(2) Skeppies–CitiGroup Building Resilience to Climate Change Programme

CitiGroup has provided funding for a Building Resilience to Climate Change Programme as part of ongoing environmental enterprise development work supported by CSA. The participating Skeppies projects generally have a minimal impact on the environment in terms of their carbon footprint and GHG emissions. They are all small-scale enterprises, with low water and low electricity demands. Many of these projects will, however, feel disproportionately great impacts of climate change. The CitiGroup programme includes training the project implementers on ways that they can monitor for climate change and plan for adaption in their businesses in order to be more resilient and more profitable. The programme also involves the transfer of adaptation technologies and climate monitoring equipment to the projects where required.
An initiation workshop, held in May 2010, started projects off on a climate monitoring process, handing over the necessary instruments and log books to eleven pilot projects. Follow up climate change awareness workshops were held in October 2010 and March 2011, and four more projects have started climate monitoring. In November and December 2010, and February 2011, visits to the projects were conducted to scope the use of the climate monitoring diaries, assess the relevance of projects for continued ‘climate-proofing’, and begin to determine the kinds of tools and technologies that will assist with building climate resilience. Regular opportunities to obtain feedback on their experiences with climate monitoring, and to share lessons around their adaptation progress, have been invaluable, leading directly to the identification of water as a key concern for most if not all of the project implementers.
The current phase of the CitGroup funding focuses on identifying green tools and technologies that can be employed in each project to further build their internal resilience and adaptive capacity. Applications for equipment from five projects were approved in the first round of funding.

• Bravo Pro Port Nolloth Kelp Harvesting Project
The Bravo Pro Kelp Drying Project in Port Nolloth is able to produce 15-20 tons of dried and milled kelp in a month, weather permitting. Successful planning for the weather has the potential to have a great impact on the sustainability of the project, and Bravo Pro has been using the diaries and monitoring equipment regularly with their daily planning for their business activities. The project requested protective tarpaulins to cover the harvested kelp and assist with drying on frequent misty days. Six 6mx6m tarpaulins made from recycled PVC were delivered to the project in April 2011. CAP assisted the project with sourcing sheeting materials to cover a polytunnel that will also be used for drying harvested kelp out of the elements. These interventions will increase productivity at Bravo Pro by up to 200%. In March 2011, CSA and CitiGroup also donated a digital anemometer and digital submersible thermometer to Bravo Pro in order to further develop their climate monitoring capabilities.

• Port Nolloth Bird Park
The Port Nolloth Bird Park is a conservation-orientated program aimed at conserving the wetland at the entrance to Port Nolloth. The wetland constitutes the only body of fresh water in the area and is home to a wide variety of bird life. The project has several conservation assets including an educational indigenous garden. Climate change is likely to impact this project through direct impacts on the water level in the wetland itself as well as potential, though as yet not well understood, impacts on the bird’s migration patterns and population numbers. To support the development and maintenance of the indigenous garden and develop the environmental education potential of the project, CAP, CSA and CitiGroup arranged for a 5000l rainwater harvesting and storage system and windbreak materials to minimise water loss from evaporation to be delivered in April 2011.

• Leliefontein and Kamieskroon Kookskerm Projects
The Kookskerms use traditional Namakwa food cooked on open fires in tradition huts as a tourism attraction in their local villages. They also attend festivals, shows, and exhibitions, and cater at conferences and big meetings locally. Dependent on water for cooking, cleaning, and entertaining, and operating in already water-scarce areas, changes in water availability will have a profound impact on the viability of their businesses. The CitiGroup funding has, through CAP and CSA, provided each project with a 5000l water tank and installation materials. These were delivered in April 2011.

• Pofadder Extreme Adventures Hiking Trail
Pofadder Extreme Adventures manages and markets a 5-day hiking trail along the Orange River, departing from Onseepgans on the border with Namibia. The trail is affected by flooding, which damages the trail itself and pollutes the only water supply along the route. This small fresh water spring is also threatened by alien invasive plant species. Climate change increases the frequency and severity of extreme weather events such as flooding and drought and also impacts on the ability of invasive species to expand into new areas. CAP, CSA, and CitiGroup supplied the projects with tools to maintain the path and keep the spring clear of invasive plants. These tools included two long-handled loppers, two folding hand-saws, one bow saw and several spare blades and were handed over in March 2011.

The Skeppies – CitiGroup Programme continues to work closely with these projects on their climate monitoring and their climate change adaptation needs and priorities. A further workshop is planned for May 2011 and site visits to monitor the installed equipment are carried out regularly.

Contact Ronald Newman (Program manager of the Namaqualand Green Economy Demonstration) at or 027 7181577 for more information on project work in the area.

Click the image to enlarge: Roodebergskloof
Click the image to enlarge: Map of Conservation South Africas work in the Namaqualand Wildnerness Initiative area
Map of Conservation South Africas work in the Namaqualand Wildnerness Initiative area
Click the image to enlarge: Extension officers and the stewardship manager of the Biodiversity Red Meat initiative
Extension officers and the stewardship manager of the Biodiversity Red Meat initiative
Click the image to enlarge: Succulent Karoo National Park in the Namaqualand District Municipality
Succulent Karoo National Park in the Namaqualand District Municipality
Click the image to enlarge: Sarah Frazee (right hand side) is the Director of Conservation South Africa and Heidi Hawkins is the Green Choice Coordinator
Sarah Frazee (right hand side) is the Director of Conservation South Africa and Heidi Hawkins is the Green Choice Coordinator
Click the image to enlarge: Working for Wetlands restoring a degraded wetland in the Kamiesberg
Working for Wetlands restoring a degraded wetland in the Kamiesberg
Click the image to enlarge: Anatolian sheep dog project
Anatolian sheep dog project
Posted: 5/4/2011 (9:27:22 AM)

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