South Africa

Landscape partners:

Living Lands, Grounded, The Baviaanskloof Development Company, The Langkloof Honeybush Company

Landscape:

South Africa

Total area (ha):

426,722 hectares, 32,000 hectares under improved management

Stakeholders:

35+ landowners, farmers and circa 100 community members and land users.

Business cases identified or set up:

Nine cases including essential oils, Honeybush, dried rosemary, wildlife, tourism, carbon, compost/mulch, biochar and livestock.

Active since:

2014 in partnership with Commonland.

Mission in the landscape

 

Our partners Living Lands and Grounded work with farmers, landowners, land users and other local stakeholders to actively restore ecological functionality and facilitate the transition to more regenerative agricultural practices.

Baviaanskloof and Langkloof are important water catchments for local agriculture and the City of Port Elizabeth. Collectively, activities in these regions support a 20-year holistic vision towards integrated catchment management and large-scale rehabilitation.

Activities in Baviaanskloof have built on strong relationships with local farmers, resulting in the formation of Baviaanskloof Development Company and the production of essential oils. Rehabilitation interventions in this region focus on soil erosion stabilization and revegetation and the setting up of Baviaanskloof Hartland Conservancy.

Since mid-2016, Commonland has also been supporting activities in the neighbouring Langkloof, an important deciduous fruit region. The first business case focuses on the sustainable production, harvesting and marketing of honeybush tea, while restoration business cases related to invasive alien tree species are being investigated.

Stories of Change

Wild Honeybush Sustainable Harvest Plans

 

As part of a process to sustainably produce honeybush tea, the development of ‘Sustainable Harvest Plans’ for landowners has taken forward ‘research-based’ knowledge to become more ‘practically- implementable’. With funds from Commonland and Stichting DOEN, 660 ha of land have been surveyed to determine the sustainable amount of honeybush that can be harvested. The plans also include wider- scale issues such as mapping alien invasive trees, which harms natural honeybush resources in the long-term.

A more practical method for undertaking site assessments has  been developed, tested and implemented in collaboration with local honeybush harvesters, providing opportunities for harvesters to do honeybush work that is not just harvest related. In the Langkloof in general, historically many promises have been made to the harvesters as the most marginalised members of the honeybush value chain.

However, to support their needs is difficult. Their income is based on having access to land to harvest and being paid a very small amount for physical, dangerous work. It is a long road, but to start engaging meaningfully with harvesters and to bring them in sustainable harvest planning is crucial at this stage of the process.

Failing forward

Honeybush seedling nursery built, set-up and managed by Cleston and Novan. Photo credit: Living Lands

Lessons learned from the Lavandin trial, Baviaanskloof Development Company

 

The 2016-2019 trial with lavandin plantings for production of essential oils by Baviaanskloof Development Company did not deliver on its anticipated promise. The lavandin harvest was very low, and the producers suffered significant losses on planted lands as a result of insufficient planning, root knot nematode infestation and low soil fertility. Such production losses obviously result in low producer moral and have financial costs. The difficulties experienced in the start-up and scaling phases of the business have required a change of course and therefore adapting our business model.

Rosemary production, in combination with regenerative agricultural practices, is more promising and drying the rosemary rather than stilling for oil has been tested. All-in-all, the lavandin trial showed it is important to step back from the scaling phase and strengthen our basic business system first by re-validating the business. We will continue to support  the farmers in the short term to gain financial stability in the project and focus on stabilizing the producers and their fields and rebuild a strong foundation on the businesses case and soil health before any further scaling is done.

Lessons learned Honeybush Cultivation

 

For the honeybush tea business case, we learned that securing processing capacity is critical for ensuring the final taste quality of the tea and for production planning. Grounded still needs to unpack exactly what taste quality means in the eyes of the consumers and how each step in the value chain impacts on quality.

Much work has been done to secure sustainably harvested wild tea.

To further support the sustainability of wild stocks, Grounded and Living Lands commissioned the seedling nursery to support cultivation and take the pressure off of wild tea. The team’s greatest challenge now is learning that cultivated honeybush has a higher moisture content on the harvest, making the cost of processing more expensive than anticipated and the product of lower quality. This has triggered the response to re-evaluate the business case for cultivation and investigate alternative market channels for cultivated honeybush species. In the meantime, the company continues to work on building both a local and export market for the wild-harvested honeybush tea.

What happened in 2019?

The ongoing drought continued to be at the front of everyone’s minds in 2019. Nonetheless, restoration interventions continued in Baviaanskloof and the Langkloof, rehabilitation activities related to invasive alien tree clearing got underway. Baviaanskloof Development Company harvested rosemary and tested the viability of drying the product which can be used to make carnosic acid, a natural food preservative. The Langkloof Honeybush Co. undertook its first harvesting and processing, trialling  four different species and three local processors to get a hands-on experience of the steps involved of from production to sales and to get feedback from the market.

Living Lands scales up rehabilitation in Baviaanskloof In Baviaanskloof, large-scale rehabilitation works are becoming visible on hillsides in Baviaanskloof through the creation of extensive ponding systems. Through funding from Commonland, the Dutch Postcode Lottery, the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation and the Global Environment Facility, the Living Lands rehabilitation team is growing, with up to 40 team members in the field, over 1,500 hectares of active rehabilitation interventions and a further 9,000 hectares being freed up for rehabilitation in a phased approach.

South African landscape in the press

 

  • The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has published a video and article on the work of Living Lands in Baviaanskloof
  • Dr Jessica Cockburn has (with co-authors from Living Lands and Dieter van den Broeck) published a paper in Ecology and Society advocating a place-based approach to addressing sustainability challenges. The paper highlights that a multi-pronged, long-term approach is required in diverse landscapes such as the Langkloof.

Living Lands scales up rehabilitation in Baviaanskloof

 

In Baviaanskloof, large-scale rehabilitation works are becoming visible on hillsides in Baviaanskloof through the creation of extensive ponding systems. Through funding from Commonland, the Dutch Postcode Lottery, the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation and the Global Environment Facility, the Living Lands rehabilitation team is growing, with up to 40 team members in the field, over 1,500 hectares of active rehabilitation interventions and a further 9,000 hectares being freed up for rehabilitation in a phased approach.

The impact of pondings can be seen after rain.

Grounded starts monitoring across three commitments

 

Grounded’s purpose is ‘Bringing agriculture back into balance: giving power to farmers and consumers to invest in their soil, their health,  each other’. To achieve this, they have formulated 3 commitments toward farmers, the environment and their customers. For each of these commitments, they are now determining which indicators best help to track progress against these commitments over time.

  • Farmers: Improve the lives of the farmers we work with by reducing risk and increasing income;
  • Environment: Improve the soil quality on cultivated land and preserve biodiversity in the area’s where we wild harvest;
  • Customers: Provide high quality regenerative agricultural products where consumers can have a real and visible

Controlled fires in the Langkloof for invasive alien tree removal and as a part of regenerating the fire-driven ecosystem in the Langkloof.

Controlled fires for alien removal & rehabilitation

 

The Living Lands team in the Langkloof started testing controlled fires as a means for invasive alien tree removal and as part of regenerating the fire-driven ecosystem in the Langkloof. The implementation portion of the project is funded by the Coca-Cola Foundation.

 

Regenerative agriculture

 

A further 65 hectares of agricultural lands have had regenerative agriculture interventions implemented during 2019. These methods are intended to increase the fertility of the lands for future essential oil production and provide pasture for livestock. The farmers had some challenges maintaining the planted pastures alive during the drought;

however, these pastures have been important food sources for livestock during this period, lowering pressure on the natural veld.

Bring back inspiration:

One of the relocated Cape Mountain Zebras caught on a camera trap.

Cape Mountain zebras reintroduced into Baviaanskloof

 

In 2019, twelve Cape Mountain Zebra (Equus zebra zebra) arrived in Baviaanskloof Hartland Conservancy as part of a pilot reintroduction program. An indigenous species to Baviaanskloof, the last Cape Mountain Zebras were seen in the area in 1972. The total Cape Mountain Zebra population in Africa is very small, the genetic diversity is at risk.

We hope this pilot will lead to the growth of more areas suitable as habitat for this vulnerable species and kickstart a restoration wildlife economy in Baviaanskloof.

“If your goals don’t scare you, then the challenge isn’t big enough”

- Farmer Willie van Rensburg

Milestones 2019

People exposed to the opportunity of 4 returns landscape restoration
Direct and indirect jobs created and supported
Hectares under direct regeneration/restoration with early ripple effects to 2 million hectares across 4 landscapes
4 returns business cases identified or set up

People exposed to the opportunity of 4 returns landscape restoration

Direct and indirect jobs created and supported

Hectares under direct regeneration/restoration with early ripple effects to 2 million hectares across 4 landscapes

4 returns business cases identified or set up

35
landowners and farmers working with landscape partners
65
direct jobs have been created
11.354
hectares under improved regenerative management
9
business cases identified or set up
  • 2019
  • Baviaanskloof
  • Langkloof
  • 1 : 100

10 year ambition:

10,000 people exposed and reached.

Year 5:

In 2019, Living Lands, Grounded, the Baviaanskloof Development Company and The Langkloof Honeybush Co. work directly with 35 landowners and farmers on rehabilitation and regenerative agriculture in the Baviaanskloof and Langkloof.

Our work has been presented at five key industry events and conferences and has been documented by the United Nations Environment Programme.

10 year ambition:

25 jobs provided and supported

Year 5:

To date, 65 direct jobs have been created.

Our work also directly supports four networks to build social capital between stakeholders in the landscape.

10 year ambition:

32,000 hectares under improved management

Year 5:

Total area under improved management in 2019: 11 354ha. A total 9000 hectares in the Baviaanskloof are being ‘freed up’ for rehabilitation in a phased approach.

In zone two, 1574 hectares are under direct rehabilitation and 660 hectares under sustainable honeybush harvest plans. In zone one, 120 hectares are under regenerative agriculture.

10 year ambition:

Improved cost-benefit ratios for farmers active in the Baviaanskloof Devco and Langkloof Honeybush Co.

Year 5:

As the business learns and adapts, the Baviaanskloof Devco and The Langkloof Honeybush Co. are stimulating the farmers’ sense of ownership through discussions on pricing and future profit-sharing mechanisms.

People exposed to the opportunity of 4 returns landscape restoration

Direct and indirect jobs created and supported

Hectares under direct regeneration/restoration with early ripple effects to 2 million hectares across 4 landscapes

4 returns business cases identified or set up

South Africa

  • Baviaanskloof
  • Langkloof
  • 1 : 100

People exposed to the opportunity of 4 returns landscape restoration

35
landowners and farmers working with landscape partners
  • 2019
10 year ambition:

10,000 people exposed and reached.

Year 5:

In 2019, Living Lands, Grounded, the Baviaanskloof Development Company and The Langkloof Honeybush Co. work directly with 35 landowners and farmers on rehabilitation and regenerative agriculture in the Baviaanskloof and Langkloof.

Our work has been presented at five key industry events and conferences and has been documented by the United Nations Environment Programme.

Direct and indirect jobs created and supported

65
direct jobs have been created
  • 2019
10 year ambition:

25 jobs provided and supported

Year 5:

To date, 65 direct jobs have been created.

Our work also directly supports four networks to build social capital between stakeholders in the landscape.

Hectares under direct regeneration/restoration with early ripple effects to 2 million hectares across 4 landscapes

11.354
hectares under improved regenerative management
  • 2019
10 year ambition:

32,000 hectares under improved management

Year 5:

Total area under improved management in 2019: 11 354ha. A total 9000 hectares in the Baviaanskloof are being ‘freed up’ for rehabilitation in a phased approach.

In zone two, 1574 hectares are under direct rehabilitation and 660 hectares under sustainable honeybush harvest plans. In zone one, 120 hectares are under regenerative agriculture.

4 returns business cases identified or set up

9
business cases identified or set up
  • 2019
10 year ambition:

Improved cost-benefit ratios for farmers active in the Baviaanskloof Devco and Langkloof Honeybush Co.

Year 5:

As the business learns and adapts, the Baviaanskloof Devco and The Langkloof Honeybush Co. are stimulating the farmers’ sense of ownership through discussions on pricing and future profit-sharing mechanisms.