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Van Wyksdorp - Klein Karoo South Africa | 2014 (1)

Publication Date : 2014-10-28
Author/s : Vernon Gibbs-Halls


One Million Spekbooms for Kannaland! The Jobs for Carbon Project!

The Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve’s Jobs for Carbon Project is set to transform degraded areas of the Klein Karoo while helping to clear the atmosphere of excess carbon dioxide. And it’s expected to provide jobs – and even tourism opportunities, too.

The overall goal of the Jobs for Carbon Project is to improve the rural economy and the health of ecosystems in the Klein Karoo by exploring carbon farming as a sustainable land use. The ambition is to establish millions of the plants in selected areas where spekboom used to occur naturally – over the next twenty years. The Klein Karoo makes up a substantial portion of the Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve (which also includes large parts of the Southern Cape region:along the coast from the Breede River to the Great Brak River, and inland to Montagu in the west, Prince Albert in the north, and Uniondale in the east).  According to Jan Vlok, a well-known botanist who works in close relationship with the Biosphere Reserve, the spekboom (Portulacariaafra http://www.plantzafrica.com/plantnop/portulacarafra.htm) “is an amazing plant: when you plant it in areas where overgrazing, erosion, and dust have caused biodiversity collapse, it quickly helps restore the natural system –which includes restoring biodiversity, and restoring the soil’s ability to retain and slowly release its moisture, which in turn revives the natural flow of the watercourses.” “But it’s remarkable, too, for its ability to fix carbon from the atmosphere – which is vital to the global struggle to contain climate change.” The spekboom’s ability to absorb carbon from the atmosphere is unusually high for asemi-arid-area. Four years of intensive field work by researchers at Rhodes University in parts of the Eastern Cape where rainfall and topography are broadly similar to the Little Karoo, suggest a carbon sequestration rate opportunity of around 50 tonnes per hectare of restored veld. And, according to Dr. AnneLise Vlok, regional ecologist with CapeNature (the Western Cape Province’s statutory conservation organisation), it’s incredibly easy to propagate.  “Basically,you can just take cuttings and put them directly into prepared holes in the ground – and you don’t even need to come back to water them, which means that even unskilled labourers can learn to plant them quickly, and that they can plant large areas relatively quickly.” “We’ve selected the Vanwyksdorp Kannaland area in this initial phase, where unemployment is high and there are large areas where spekboom has been totally eaten up. But ultimately we would like to expand the initiative across the entire KleinKaroo,” said Mr Vlok. He said that the Project has received enthusiastic support from individuals and local authorities alike – a position that was confirmed by Vernon Gibbs-Halls,environmental control officer at the Eden District Municipality, who said that,“We’ll definitely back it in as many ways as we can.” According to Charles Basson, director on the board of the Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve Non-Profit Company, many other opportunities exist where spekboom can make a positive difference for local communities. “For example, if we could get additional funding there are three other initiatives we would like to pursue: the restoration of vegetation on road reserves between De Rust and Oudtshoorn ; the rehabilitation of a disused gravel quarry at De Rust, and the construction of a maze to attract tourism in Oudtshoorn.” He said that planting spekboom on the road reserve between De Rust and Oudtshoorn would have a mitigating effect on the dust caused by ostrich feedlots alongside the road (which often blows across the road), and improve the area aesthetically while reducing air pollution, whilst the restoration of the closed borrow pit at De Rust would reduce erosion and improve the beauty of the landscape for the benefit of tourism.  “And although both initiatives would create only temporary employment for up to twenty people each, we are hoping that they would lead to sustainable jobs in the future – especially since projects like these can earn carbon credits on the international market. “Butthe maze – which would cover a whole hectare when it’s planted – could create twenty jobs in the short term, and five medium-term positions for people who’ll look after it when it opens to the public.” The Jobs for Carbon Project is implemented in partnership with the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) and Rhodes University’s Restoration Research Group (RRRG). It is largely financed by the European Union, which has contributed 589 thousand Euros (approximately R7.5 million), while the National Department of Environmental Affairs is expected to provide additional funding.

Keywords:

Citation :
Wendy Crane

COPYRIGHT | vanwyksdorp.com | Klein Karoo | South Africa

KINGDOM / PHYLUM
Animalia, phylum Arthropoda
CLASS / ORDER / SUB ORDER
class Insecta
order Lepidoptera
Heterocera Rhopalocera
SUPERFAMILIES
Hesperioidea Hedyloidea Papilionoidea
Papilionidae, Pieridae, Lycaenidae, Riodinidae, and Nymphalidae
AUTHOR / COPYRIGHT
Author : James Smith
Photography : Dean Jones
Video : Malcolm Johnson
Copyright John Smith

 

ingdom Animalia, phylum Arthropoda, class Insecta, and order Lepidoptera. Generally, the order Lepidoptera is broken down into two sub-orders: Heterocera (the “varied-antennaed” moths) and the “club-antennaed” Rhopalocera, the sub-order to which the butterflies belong. The Rhopalocera sub-order includes 3 superfamilies: The true butterfly superfamily contains 5 families of butterflies: Papilionidae, Pieridae, Lycaenidae, Riodinidae, and Nymphalidae.

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