Vanwyksdorp invites the European Union

20 October 2014

Vanwyksdorp was in the spotlight on Monday 6th and Tuesday 7th October when the Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve (GCBR) hosted an official visit by the European Union (EU) Delegation in South Africa to this small community in the western Klein Karoo. The reason for the visit was to assess progress being made with the Jobs for Carbon Project, currently being implemented in the Vanwyksdorp area through a collaboration between the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA), Rhodes University and the GCBR. The project is financed mainly by the EU.

Wendy Crane welcomes Natalija Dolya to Vanwyksdorp (credit: S du Toit)
Wendy Crane welcomes Natalija Dolya to Vanwyksdorp (credit: S du Toit)

The Jobs for Carbon Project aims to plant indigenous spekboom back into the veld in areas where it used to occur naturally but which have become badly degraded over the past century. Planting spekboom will help restore this land biologically and also provide job opportunities for local restoration teams – a win-win situation for people and nature in the area. A third win can be achieved by the plant’s remarkable ability to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, which helps South Africa’s efforts to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in the global fight against climate change.

EU representative meets landowners (credit: S du Toit)
EU representative meets landowners (credit: S du Toit)

According to Natalija Dolya, Project Officer for Environment in the EU Delegation, the Jobs for Carbon Project is one of only eight projects selected for funding from 160 submissions received under the EU’s Call for Proposals ‘Sustainable Environment and Natural Resources for Development’. “This project addresses a strong mix of issues ranging from the social and economic to the environmental. The fact that it creates developmental benefits, such as job creation and training in poor communities (including through partnerships with private landowners) on the one hand, and ecological benefits of restored natural capital on the other hand, weighed heavily in its favour” said Dolya.

Community leaders and landowners from around Vanwyksdorp were amongst the invited guests to an information evening at the Barking Frog Cafe, where Wendy Crane of the GCBR gave an overview of the project and introduced the main role players leading its implementation.

“Our efforts so far have concentrated on laying the groundwork for the actual planting activities which are expected to get underway in 2015,” she said. This included detailed mapping of the area’s degraded spekboomveld as well as negotiating agreements with landowners where restoration will be done. Participating landowners must ensure that their land will not be exposed to livestock grazing or browsing for at least 10 years after restoration so that the new plants can establish themselves and the veld is given a chance to recover. “It’s a big commitment to make,” said Crane. “Fortunately several landowners in Vanwyksdorp believe in our vision and are willing to take part in this groundbreaking initiative. We are really grateful for their support.”

The project will initially restore 300 hectares of degraded land in the Vanwyksdorp area but aims to be a catalyst for expanded restoration work across the wider region.

For more information please contact:

Wendy Crane – Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve

Email | Tel 028 735 2174

The Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve promotes sustainable development through combining local community efforts with sound science in order to safeguard our collective future. Internationally recognised by UNESCO for its astonishing diversity in cultural significance and indigenous environmental assets, the GCBR is uniquely positioned to fulfil UNESCO’s vision of reconciling the conservation of biological diversity and economic development through partnerships between people and nature.

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