WWF South Africa has a long history with Namaqua where 50% of its current footprint was secured through its support. The WWF South Africa Land Programme is actively involved in supporting SANParks to expand this park – currently over 150 000 hectares in extent. Knersvlakte is a provincial nature reserve, managed by CapeNature. Here, a trust called the Leslie Hill Succulent Karoo Trust (LHSKT) has been instrumental in the formation of this reserve, which is currently over 120 000 hectares in size. The Land Programme team, in partnership with SANParks and CapeNature have held two workshops with community representatives to understand their needs and to engage with them about the proposed approaches to boost their livelihoods.
The project is working with the following communities neighbouring the two pilot sites: Kamieskroon; Hondeklipbaai, Soebatsfontein and Komaggas in Namaqua, and Nuwerus and Kliprand in Knersvlakte. All the communities are based inland except Hondeklipbaai which is on the coast.
The project will leverage resources through partnerships with government and civil society to facilitate a number of livelihood opportunities, including:
- Appointing and training environmental monitors, field rangers and environmental education field officers for Namaqua and Knersvlakte.
- Exploring opportunities in the bioprospecting sector for natural resources that could be developed into commercial products for the agricultural, aquaculture, bioremediation, cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries.
- Training community members to contribute support services in Namaqua and Knersvlakte. This will include work in infrastructure maintenance, such as road maintenance, the renovation or construction of staff or tourism, fence erection and maintenance, marking out and maintaining hiking trails; erosion control, land rehabilitation and the removal of alien plant species. The work can be done through short-term job creation opportunities or through supporting the development of SMMEs that can be contracted by the conservation agencies or local municipalities. They can also be contracted by the gypsum mines in the area for land rehabilitation work.
- Providing training and resources for the establishment and maintenance of vegetable gardens, improved livestock management, and access to land for grazing.
- Promoting local community participation in the broader tourism value chain linked to the two protected areas, including accommodation, cultural tourism arts and crafts, and catering and restaurants.
In partnership with Conservation South Africa, WWF already has a project focused on sustainable farming methods in the Kammieskroon region. Most of the sheep and goat farmers know the value of the environment and what it means to them as it supports their livelihoods. But there is not a lot of land available and they are experiencing the effects of climate change. They say they notice the difference in the veld, and that there is a lot less rain. There is increased interest in sustainable farming among these farmers as they have noticed that those participating in our sustainable farming projects are producing healthier animals and therefore achieving increased profits when they are sold.
The WWF Nedbank Green Trust project is now in its second year, and will be funded until February 2025.