South Africa

Landscape partners:

Living Lands, the Baviaanskloof Development Company, the Baviaanskloof Bewarea NPC, the Langkloof Honeybush Company

Landscape:

South Africa

Total area (ha):

500,000

Stakeholders:

130

Business cases identified or set up:

4

Active since:

2014

The Baviaanskloof-Langkloof landscape is home to an incredible diversity of vegetation, stemming from its unique combination of elevation, geology and soils. Hundreds of its species are found nowhere else on the planet. The Baviaanskloof River, Krom River and Kouga River, which run through the landscape, feed into the water supply of the 1.3 million people living in the city of Gqeberha (formerly known as Port Elizabeth).

 

Local communities face the same social, economic and political challenges as present throughout South Africa. Landscape degradation has led to loss of ground cover and vegetation, soil erosion, invasion of alien plant species, loss of soil health and disruption of the water system. In addition, the region has suffered from drought since 2015.

Work in the Baviaanskloof-Langkloof landscape has been underway since 2009. Since this time, the team on the ground has worked diligently to build trust with stakeholders and understand local context. Through the work of our partners, degraded land is currently in the process of being rehabilitated and regenerated through regenerative agricultural practices.

The partnership has also led to the establishment of three regenerative companies, with the aim to provide income streams while restoring the land:

  • Baviaanskloof Development Company, a producer-owned company which focuses on the production, processing and sales of essential oils.
  • Baviaanskloof Bewarea Non-Profit Company, set up by Living Lands to implement ecological rehabilitation work in the landscape.
  • Langkloof Honeybush Company (LKHBCo), set up and owned by Grounded, specialises in sustainable honeybush tea production.

What happened in 2021?

The critical theme for the year was the country-wide drought, with the Eastern Cape in a state of emergency. Nevertheless, rehabilitation work of 1685 hectares of degraded lands continued in the Baviaanskloof. The Baviaanskloof Bewarea conservancy team worked on restoring 308 hectares with ponding, seeding and brush packing (using organic material to protect the newly growing vegetation in the ponds). Before summer, some showers passed through the Baviaanskloof and water sunk into the ponds and produced a green flash across the landscape. The story of the reseeding was covered by the Port Elizabeth Herald.

In part because of the restoration work mentioned above, the regenerative agriculture pasture planted in Sewefontein in 2020 is surviving the drought and providing much needed sustenance to goats during the kidding season.

The Baviaanskloof Landscape office has been built and set up at the DevCo distillery, bringing together the Bewarea Head Office and base camp, distillery and Living Lands laboratory. A Research and Development trial plot was set up next to the Distillery – one of three planned R&D plots to trial the production of different oil herb species.

After the successful reintroduction of Cape Mountain Zebra in the Baviaanskloof and following work on a business plan for sustainable wildlife management an additional herd of 10 Cape Mountain Zebra were set free in the Baviaanskloof.

In the Langkloof, Living Lands has moved office and is now more centrally located allowing locals to drop in more easily. The work on invasive alien clearing has continued, including trialling innovative approaches of biocontrol, controlled burns, drone seeding, using goats as a tool to control alien species and create fire breaks (see box).

LKHBCo won the Tea Tycoons Program award in the Green/Sustainability category. In doing so, it won a booth at the World Tea Conference and Expo 2021 attracting a flurry of international interest. Meanwhile, LKHBCo received organic certification for the EU. The market for honeybush tea remained challenging, and in order to position the tea well, LKHBCo has been focusing on reorganising the supply chain to ensure the highest quality tea. Twelve distinctive flavoured honeybush tea blends and pyramid tea bags have now been developed to target the premium market. Meanwhile, trials of regenerative production of honeybush tea expanded. At the close of the year, LKHBCo managed to secure a second round of seed funding from a South African Oppenheimer Generation Foundation.

LKHBCo nursery managers, Cleston van der Rost and Denovan Matick, have now become the nursery’s outright owners.

Both LKHBCo and Living Lands embarked in 2021 on the process of developing a new 5-year strategy for consolidating the work up until now and aiming to expand the impact further.

One of the two honeybush nursery managers, Cleston van der Rost.

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.

Clearing invasive species

It may seem counterintuitive, but in the Langkloof an important part of the rehabilitation work is to remove trees from the landscape rather than plant them. In this landscape, plant species from other continents have been introduced some time in the 19th or 20th centuries and have spread across the landscape. Species such as eucalypts, black wattle, and pine species have taken hold in the fynbos ecosystem, dominating and outcompeting native species. Because they are fast-growing, their high water use dries out the land, causing further ecosystem damage.

Alien invasive clearing is extremely labour intensive and requires understanding of the local ecosystem. The thickest patches are often hard to reach by vehicle. Often, alien plants are cleared by chopping them by hand or chainsaw and applying herbicide, or by a controlled burn. Other ways of dealing with the aliens can be with bio-control – ie by introducing targeted diseases or fungi – or by intensive grazers such as goats.

Having a locally-applicable farm management plan and updating it over time is very important. Furthermore, after the initial clearing you need to come back to remove all the new alien trees that germinate, and you need to keep doing this in the years that follow. As alien invasive species are cleared, indigenous vegetation is slowly coming back.

Baviaanskloof Bewarea team member with brush cutting equipment.