South Africa

Landscape partners:

Living Lands, Grounded, the Baviaanskloof Development Company, the Langkloof Honeybush Company, the Baviaanskloof Heartland Conservancy, and the Langkloof Honeybush Association

Landscape:

South Africa

Total area (ha):

500,000

Stakeholders:

105

Business cases identified or set up:

12

Active since:

2014

Mission in the landscape

 

Baviaanskloof and Langkloof comprise three river catchments. Together, they supply 70% of the water to Port Elizabeth’s 1.3 million inhabitants and agriculture in and downstream of these catchments. Commonland works with Living Lands and Grounded in the Baviaanskloof and Langkloof on the ambitious goals of rehabilitating soil health and water retention capacity of ecosystems. At the same time, we facilitate the transition to more regenerative agricultural practices while empowering communities to innovate and become more resilient.

 

Living Lands is based on the landscape, becoming part of the community and mobilising stakeholders to develop a shared landscape vision, facilitate research and implementation of large-scale ecological restoration projects. Grounded identifies, tests, and develops new business models, focusing on marketing and selling regenerative crops, enabling farmers to generate long-term sustainable profits. Living Lands has been active since 2009, while Grounded and Commonland joined the collaboration in 2014.

Living Lands manages the Baviaanskloof Bewarea (Conservancy) and the Baviaanskloof Development Company (Devco). Grounded manages the Langkloof Honeybush Company (LKHBCo) to generate long-term sustainable profit for the Honeybush industry.

What happened in 2020?

Baviaanskloof

 

Rehabilitation interventions in the Baviaanskloof focused on soil erosion stabilisation and revegetation. To support this, the 4 Returns entity The Baviaanskloof Bewarea (Conservancy), took action in 2020. Across the Baviaanskloof and Langkloof, 1,056 hectares were under active restoration, including soil erosion prevention measures, revegetation, and clearing invasive alien species. A further 140 hectares were secured for passive/avoided degradation. The farmers and the Baviaanskloof Bewarea created a massive boost of local inspiration through grading the local road to improve access for locals and tourists alike.

 

The Baviaanskloof Devco focuses on essential oils production as an additional income source for the area’s farmers. At the same time, this lets farmers transition to more sustainable goat farming practices and free large tracts of land for restoration and increase biodiversity. Due to severe droughts and lockdowns halting work, 2020 was a difficult year for the Baviaanskloof Devco. Fortunately, the rosemary harvest and essential oil extraction gave good yields towards the end of the year.

 

Langkloof

 

The mountainous Langkloof area is home to several indigenous honeybush spices. Living Lands has been active here for eight years. Since 2018, the Langkloof Honeybush Company, managed by Grounded, has been working on regenerative production and sustainable harvesting of wild honeybush as an ingredient for herbal tea and extracts used in food and cosmetics.

 

In 2020, together with key partners from Rhodes University, WWF South Africa, and the South African Government, Living Lands further investigated wild honeybush yields in the combined zone. The partnership took steps to drive South African policy for the honeybush industry. Living Lands also tested and implemented rehabilitation techniques to determine locally appropriate fire, mechanical, and chemical control methods to remove invasive alien trees that threaten water security and impact biodiversity.

 

The Langkloof Honeybush Company worked hard to study and improve the honeybush (taste) quality throughout the year. Together with tea master Mingwei Tsai from Nigiro Tea Merchants, five signature blends were developed, celebrated, and tried in a tasting event with local farmers and producers. This partnership enabled the farmers to connect flavour and farming practices and determine how to process, blend, and package the best possible product. Different regenerative cropping strategies, blends, and fermentation techniques and engaging first buyers and market players were trialled and improved during the year.

Tea tasting of the finished blends with farmers in Napier.

Novan Matick, co-manager of LKHBCO’s new honeybush nursery that provides secured access to high-quality seedlings for local farmers.

“There was little known about rooibos until it was pushed out into the international arena. We can do that and more for honeybush.”

- Mingwei Tsai, tea master Nigiro Tea Merchants, South Africa.

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

100,000
People exposed to the opportunity of 4 Returns landscape restoration
100
Direct and indirect jobs created or supported
1,990
Hectares under improved regenerative/restoration management
12
Business cases identified or set up by landscape partners
  • 2020
  • Baviaanskloof
  • Langkloof
  • 1 : 100

10-year ambition:

10,000 people exposed and reached.

10 year ambition:

25 jobs provided and supported

10 year ambition:

32,000 hectares under improved management

10 year ambition:

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

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

2020 South Africa

  • Baviaanskloof
  • Langkloof
  • 1 : 100

People exposed to the opportunity of 4 returns landscape restoration

100,000
People exposed to the opportunity of 4 Returns landscape restoration
  • 2020
10-year ambition:

10,000 people exposed and reached.

Direct and indirect jobs created and supported

100
Direct and indirect jobs created or supported
  • 2020
10 year ambition:

25 jobs provided and supported

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

1,990
Hectares under improved regenerative/restoration management
  • 2020
10 year ambition:

32,000 hectares under improved management

4 returns business cases identified or set up

12
Business cases identified or set up by landscape partners
  • 2020
10 year ambition:

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

Stories of change

From overgrazing to greening in the Baviaanskloof, South Africa

South Africa’s World Heritage Site Baviaanskloof is part of the 500,000 hectare Baviaanskloof-Langkloof catchment area. This unique and biodiverse area is home to plants that do not occur anywhere else on the planet. As climate change causes droughts, long-term unsustainable land management further contributes to erosion, loss of soil health and diminished vegetation cover. These, in turn, decrease biodiversity and income from agriculture and increase unemployment.

Large scale ecological rehabilitation of the area’s hills and flatland is crucial to reverse this downward spiral of degradation. With the Dutch Postcode Lottery’s support, the project ‘regreening the Baviaanskloof’ aims to return the Baviaanskloof’s ecosystem functions through various landscape rehabilitation projects.

 

In 2020, we worked on more than 1,000 ha, built rock silt straps on steep slopes and erected game fences. We made hand-dug and mega ponds seeded with indigenous grass seed species, further improving soil health and water retention capacity.

 

Research on carbon storage and knowledge sharing on regenerative agriculture, ecological rehabilitation and veld management between communities, universities and farmers was conducted to learn more about the practice of landscape rehabilitation and sustainable agriculture.

 

Here, Commonland works together with local partners Living Lands and the Baviaanskloof Hartland Conservancy. The Dutch Postcode Lottery supports the project. 

Hand-dug and mega ponds in areas with little vegetation coverage, Sewefontein, Baviaanskloof.