Globally and locally, the threats facing bee populations are increasing as they are largely due to humanity’s impact on the environment. These are namely: habitat loss, climate change and pesticide use. The threat to honeybees means a threat to our agricultural sector, particular the fruit industry. Fruit farmers are at greater risk due to the pollination requirements and scale of production of their crops in comparison to the availability of forage for the managed honeybees that provide the pollination services to the farms.
In response to this urgent need for intervention, the WWF Nedbank Green Trust has funded the Farming with Biodiversity: towards nature-based solutions in multi-functional landscapes project, which will address the problem with solutions at various points in the sustainable agriculture value chain. The project focuses specifically on managed honeybees as the most productive pollinator for agricultural crops and as an icon for holistic land management and biodiversity health.
The strategic intent of the project is to collaboratively develop and pilot a viable framework that links the pollination services of honeybees with regenerative production practices and holistic veld management in the context of priority fruit producing areas of the Eastern and Western Cape. The project is based on the need to better understand the pollination needs of the fruit industry and to work with landowners as stewards of the land to catalyse interest in veld management in the region.
The WWF Nedbank Green Trust will be working with several partners to realise this project. These are: Living Lands, the Gamtoos Irrigation Board (GIB), SANBI, the Groenland Water Users Association and Hortgro. This range of organisations represents a diverse collective of complementary skills and strategic partners.
The project aims to:
- Test the feasibility of a regenerative action-based model (pollination and restoration focus) within a targeted region of a fruit value chain with clear learnings documented for future replication.
- Empower and enable local communities to participate in the biodiversity economy.
- Diversify community livelihood options.
- Establish and maintain strategic partnerships that will enhance the replicability of the project in other priority landscapes