K2C BR's Impact in 2021-2022
At the beginnig of each year the K2C BR NPC compiles an Impact Report to summaries our achievements and impact made in the ladscape over the last 12 months. While focussing on our individual projects it’s often hard to see the overall impact we make and it’s always amazing to see how the combined efforts of our small, but dedicated team come together!
In 2022 the K2C partnered with 44 different entities and implemented 10 different projects in the region.
Resulting in the followig outputs:
The full 2021/2022 K2C Impact Report can be downloaded here.
None of this would be possible without the support of our funders, partners and sponsors! We appreciate and thank you ALL!
The K2C Catchment Investment Programme receives a major boost
-Nick Theron, Senior Programme Manager
The Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Region NPC has been chosen as the first recipient of pro-bono support through the newly established Nature for Water Facility. The facility is a partnership between The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and Pegasys which aims to provide a suite of Nature-based Solution (NbS) services to local champions seeking to build catchment investment programs. Nicholas Theron from K2C attended the official launch of the Facility during a special session of the World Water Forum held on 21 March in Dakar, Senegal.
K2C has been on a journey since 2017 to explore opportunities to unlock sustainable financing for our catchment-based work. This journey led us to examine different financing models and to engage with The Nature Conservancy who built the first ever Water Fund in South Africa for Cape Town. The importance of this work was highlighted during Cape Town’s Day Zero Water Crisis. Substantial investments are now being made to undertake alien plant clearing to reduce alien vegetation that sucks up more water than indigenous Fynbos vegetation in the catchment areas that supply water to the City of Cape Town. Removing alien plants in these catchments creates over 300 permanent jobs and provides an additional 3 month’s supply of water to the city. These interventions are also considerably cheaper than others such as desalination facilities or dams.
Activities such as Alien Plant clearing are termed Nature-based Solutions (NbS) and there is considerable interest globally in the potential for these interventions. Although NbS are relatively easy to implement and can create substantial jobs as well as contribute to localized and global water security, they remain below 0.1% of annual investment spend worldwide! This is primarily due to a lack of technical assistance.
This need has led to the establishment of The Nature for Water Facility which is a partnership between the Nature Conservancy and Pegasys (an Africa-based sustainable infrastructure consultancy) which provides a suite of Nature-based Solution services to local champions seeking to build catchment investment programs. K2C is extremely proud to have been chosen as the first recipient of pro-bono support through the newly established Facility which was launched during a special session held on 21 March during the World Water Forum held in Dakar, Senegal. Nicholas Theron from K2C was there for the launch and served on a panel discussing our catchment work in the Biosphere (see infographic below for more details).
The support of the Nature for Water facility is a major step forward and will enable K2C to have access to experts in a diverse range of cross-disciplinary fields. This will help build a rigorous business case for further investment in catchment management for the benefit of nature, people and communities.
If you would like to find out more please feel free to contact us @ email@example.com
FUNDERS/PARTNERS: This work is sponsored by The Nature Conservancy and Pegasys and is further supported by USAID Resilient Waters. Project partners include Conservation South Africa.
TASC Stove Project Update
~Keneilwe Mmushi & David Mpebe, TASC CSP (Community Support Officers)
As of 1st February 2022, we were appointed as community support practitioners for the TASC cookstove project. The purpose of the role is to engage with communities after the cookstove distribution and to maximize stove adoption and continued use through education and sensitization. The team is also responsible for monitoring data, internal project monitoring and evaluation and verification. For both of us the experience with the newfound roles is exciting and professionally stimulating. The excitement is from exploring the unknown while the professionally stimulating aspect stems from the diversion from our comfort zones and doing something new, empowering and challenging. The change in our working environment i.e., desk operated jobs to an interactive space influences a change in our behavior. On the ground experience has taught us to be prepared for the unexpected: to go with an open mind and create a safe space by asking questions and making necessary disclaimers that information shared will open room for improvement and allow for the understanding of different behavior rather than expose the questioner.
The TASC efficient (Zama Zama) cookstove is rapidly reaching all communities in the Kruger to Canyon Biosphere Region. Reflection on whether the project is doing what it said it would do is key. The household monitoring surveys and community meetings aim to address the above question while continuing to educate users.
To-date we have facilitated 13 community meetings; attended 2 stakeholder engagements (Mopani District Municipality Climate Change campaign and a formal planning session with the Banareng ba Letsoalo chieftaincy/council) and visited 11 villages conducting monitoring surveys to measure the use of the stove and the satisfaction of the stove beneficiaries.
The feedback was both positive and constructive. Most people (approximately 90%) agree that the stove is fast, saves firewood, releases little to no smoke and the flames are not disturbed by wind thus converting immediately into cooking heat. They love that the stove can be used indoors and is a good substitute when it is raining or when there is a power-cut.
Most of the concerns were around the stove being small and only having one cooking chamber. Some suggested a stove with one chamber and 2 plates, one for pap or any other starch and one for seshebo; gravy, vegetables and/or meat. Others suggested that the next thing that could be distributed is a 3-legged pot or potjjie pot such as the one we use at the sensitization meetings.
The following quarter we will begin school visits and competitions as well as radio interviews and forum meetings.
The latter will revolve around environmental protection & management, carbon reduction and climate change. However, our resources and attention will continue to be dedicated to household monitoring and community meetings!
FUNDERS: TASC SA and DFFE EM programme
The Eco-Brick Campaign
– by Lethabo Rasakanya, E4D Site Administrator
The Kruger to Canyons Biosphere has identified inadequate waste management practices in the region as being of critical concern, not only for the environment, but also for societal health and wellbeing. Plastic pollution has become one of the most pressing environmental issues in the area. The rapid increase in the use of non-disposable plastic products, and their subsequent disposal into the natural environment, overwhelms the capacity of the environment to maintain the production of ecosystem services.
To reduce the negative impacts of this environmental issue, the K2C BR, North West Cluster Environmental Monitors, the Employment Skills for Development in Africa (E4D) team and 11 primary schools across Ga-Sekororo in the Maruleng Municipality, embarked on an Eco-Brick Campaign. The purpose of the campaign was to raise awareness of the negative impacts of plastic pollution, to repurpose non-biodegradable waste, implement sustainable waste management practices and to encourage communities to participate in cleaning their surrounding areas.
Our EMs and Lethabo introduced the eco-brick campaign to local schools and the broader community in support of Global recycling day, which took place on 18 March 2022. The principals of the schools endorsed the idea and sent invitations to learners to start creating eco-bricks. The campaign became a movement that raised ecological consciousness within the community, as learners and, their households engaged in transforming ordinary plastic bottles into eco-bricks. Eco-bricks are made of PET bottles filled with clean, mixed, inorganic waste that is squashed into the bottle using a stick. This enabled Eco-brickers to take responsibility for the pieces of plastic; what is considered trash, by turning the trash into a sustainable waste management tool, that reduces plastic waste that would otherwise have been disposed of in the natural environment.
The Eco-bricks campaign has empowered learners, households and communities to choose an alternative to burning household plastic informally. Moreover, making eco-bricks minimises plastic waste occupying landfills, illegal dumps and streams, where it would ultimately have released toxic emissions into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change and threatening our biodiversity and associated functions.
Within a week, the 11 primary schools made a total number of 1170 eco-bricks (amounting to approximately 1300kg of plastic repurposed as treasure). The eco-bricks were collected on the 17th and 18th of March 2022, and donated to Vusi Tshabalala, a project manager for the K2C EM programme who is building an Eco-friendly church structure at Agincourt in Bushbuckridge Local Municipality.
The K2C BR appreciates the EMs and learners from Lefoke, Mamokaile, Matshangwane, Lekane, Kobjaname, Masekane, Lepelle, Mametja, Matsikinyane, Diphuti and Maatla primary schools for creating a waste management movement, celebrating Global recycling Day and succeeding in turning trash into treasure.
FUNDERS/PARTNERS: GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit)
Resilient Waters visits the K2C landscape
~ By Dimakatso Nonyane, Resilient Waters Project Manager
The K2C team wrapped up the week of the 10th February 2022 by hosting funders from the USAID Resilient Waters Programme. Resilient Waters has enabled us to make our vision come true in terms of restoring our biodiversity through Alien Invasive Species clearing and ensuring that our communities are capacitated in Natural Resource Management through both awareness and training.
Through funding received in 2018 we employed a team of 8 intermediate participants to clear the top parts of the Mariepskop catchment where normal Working for Water teams don’t reach and which HAT did not prioritize. This funding also enabled us to give awareness training to communities covered by the Environmental Monitors.
In the two days that they were with us, we presented the work that has been done over the past 3 years and went up to the Mariepskop State Forest viewpoint where we had a clear view of the work done by the Restoration custodians. On the second day we visited the EMs cookstove distribution site in Buffelshoek where they engaged in conversations on EM activities and everyday challenges and more on the awareness and training undertaken through the Resilient Waters project.
Two of the female EMs were interviewed as part of the Resilient Waters Women’s month article for this year before heading up to the last site. This clearly demonstrated that collaborative clean-up campaigns are helpful in creating behavioural shifts amongst communities with regards to waste and how it should be managed.
The day ended with a visit to a local shisa nyama where we all had lunch and supported local SMME’s.
FUNDERS/PARTNERS: K2C BR NPO; DFFE and Resilient waters
Hosting Feta-Kgomo Tubatse Municipality in Phiring!
– Roselina Selahle; DWS Site Coordinator
The first day was filled with an influx of visitors arriving in the morning for the Homestay Workshop which was facilitated for interested community members interested in accommodating tourists in their homes. Mrs Petra Malisa, who works in the department of sales of the Thaba Moshate Hotel, and Councillor Owen Mashego; head of the Portfolio Committee of the Limpopo Economic Development Agency, facilitated the programme. They shared the concept of tourism as a business and how it is progressing after the big knock the industry took from the pandemic. They also explained how people are able to benefit from various businesses within the industry.
Day 2 was our educational hike; the highlight of the weekend. We started very early in the morning at our Traditional Authority headquarters where the hikers were camping. A total of 56 hiking members and 7 professional guides set off, followed by an EMT ambulance! We arrived at Sekweneng Tufa Rock and learnt about the origin of tufa rock . This type is formed when water absorbs magnesium and calcium from dolomite rock which then flows into a shady valley. Moss grows in shaded valleys and at night carbon dioxide is produced from this growth. Carbon binds with calcium and magnesium to form calcium carbonate. The calcium carbonate then precipitates on the moss and solidifies under the deposits. Moss then grows again on top of this solidified calcium magnesium carbonate, and the process is repeated. The building up of the precipitated layers is then called TUFA. A tufa waterfall differs from a normal waterfall in that rock is built-up instead of being eroded away.
After the lesson, we headed up the 190 steps to the Tufa entrance to have breakfast. Along the way we learned about different natural species such as protected plants, bird life, ferns and so many more. Next up was Gun Rock; an enormous rock outcrop in the shape of a machine gun, hence the name Sethunyeng; the gun rock. People enjoyed themselves by cooling off in the natural pools filled from our pristine waterfalls before heading back to camp. On the way back we passed our conserved wetlands and showed our hikers how we practice agriculture; our way of conserving our wetlands. The guides explained how our unique plant, the madumbe is planted via a natural method using only animal manure and no chemicals or fertilizers. Being an organic process, it takes 9 months to mature the bulbs. We also educated our audience about grazing camps and how rangeland management assists the health of our livestock.
We started Day 3 early with an exercise session in preparation of a 3.8km fun walk. Coming back from the fun walk we had a reflection meeting, sharing what lessons were learned and what areas could be improved.
Lastly we produced the Tubatse Fetakgomo Hiking /Camping podcast with officials from Tubatse Municipality and our professional guides from the Dinkwanyane Water Smart Project being interviewed. A big shout out to all parties involved; our sponsors, DWS team members, Fetakgomo Tubatse Municipality, Thaba Moshate Casino and Convention Centre, hikers and Phiring community members.
FUNDERS/PARTNERS: Flanders; Hoedspruit Hub; Conservation South Africa; Feta-Kgomo Tubatse Municipality; Sekhukhune Development Agency; Thaba Moshate Casino
Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Region as a Tourism Destination
– Tom Vorster, K2C Tourism Destination Coordinator
Research reveals that UNESCO’s World Heritage and Biosphere labels enhance national prestige and promote these attractions as popular – and often lucrative – tourist destinations. As tourism has become a major source of revenue for many countries, particularly those in developing nations, the UNESCO designations have been put to new use as potential magnets for tourism, lending themselves to the promotion and development of sustainable ecotourism.
Iconic, internationally renowned attractions already found in Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Region include the Kruger National Park, the Blyde River Canyon and the Bourke’s Luck Potholes. Our objective is to use the UNESCO designated Biosphere label to raise greater awareness, attract additional visitors and promote our region as a sustainable tourism destination.
With this objective in mind, K2C attended World Travel Market Africa, one of South Africa’s premier travel trade shows, held in Cape Town from 11 to 13 April 2022. Our purpose was twofold; firstly to engage with the travel trade to establish whether they were interested in supporting a UNESCO designated biosphere as a tourism destination, and secondly, to raise awareness amongst local tourism stakeholders of the existence of a Biosphere already well frequented in their area.
It was clear that most people we engaged with had no idea what a Biosphere was, let alone the K2C Biosphere specifically – or that they may even reside in one! After some explanation, the general feeling was of interest; people were willing to support the idea of visiting a K2C Biosphere tourism destination once formal structures were in place.
Living Catchments Conveners Forum Workshop
– by Itumeleng Selebalo, Catchment Project Coordinator
The Kruger to Canyons Living Catchments team consisting of Itumeleng Selebalo and Dimakatso Nonyane, joined the SANBI Catchment Conveners Forum workshop in Pretoria held on the 6 – 8 March 2022. The workshop brought conveners from the Matatiele, Tugela, Berg-Breede and Olifants Catchments together for a shared learning process. This allowed them to interact and give updates on the convening work taking place in their respective catchments. The workshop also focused on the contribution of the conveners to research undertaken in their landscapes, the integration of citizen science to their work, and how the Living Catchment Project has impacted and improved the social learning process in their areas of concern.
This was an excellent learning opportunity which allowed the conveners to share how they convene different communities of practice in their landscapes and how this can potentially improve catchment management in the future. The K2C team presented a progress report and outlined their plans to implement citizen science to improve data availability and to support research agendas in the landscape.
FUNDERS/PARTNERS: South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), USAID Resilient Waters and The Water Research Comission (WRC).
Supporting Awelani Protected Environment with the development of a Management Plan
– by Wehncke van der Merwe, Kruger National Park Buffer Zone Coordinator and GEF PA Programme Manager
Awelani Protected Environment is a small reserve located just west of the Pafuri Gate of the Kruger National Park, within the Mutele Traditional Council Area. It is a unique area as it contains high levels of biodiversity and is rich in cultural heritage sites. The area was declared a Protected Environment in 2021, which, as per the National Environmental Management Protected Areas Act, requires the assignment of an entity that will manage the reserve as well as develop a management plan. The GEF PA Programme is being implemented by K2C, SANParks, LEDET and MTPA. Dr Marisa Coetzee (SANParks), Wehncke van der Merwe, Dr Kiera Schoeman and Romy Antrobus-Wuth are supporting Awelani with the development of their Management Plan.
This was initiated in January through the Awelani Adivsory Committee; chaired by DFFE, in support of the Awelani Protected Environment. Various processes have been undertaken since then and the draft management plan is nearly complete. The most insightful and value adding processes so far have been the stakeholder engagements which took place during the first week of February. Engagements were held with the Awelani Advisory Committee, Awelani Trust, Transfrontier Parks Destinations (who manage the tourism facilities) and the Mutele Traditional Council. A METT, Biodiversity Assessment (undertaken by LEDET) and Greater Kruger Socio-economic Impact Assessment was also undertaken. A site visit highlighted some of the unique biodiversity and cultural richness of the area. Thanks go to the facilitators who, during this week, helped translate, organise and facilitate discussions. They include Rudzanie Mudau (DFFE), Fanie Phandavhudzi (GEF 6) and Faranani Lalumbe (WWF Khetha).
The management plan and support of the Awelani Trust through the Awelani Advisory Committee, will hopefully play an important role in catalysing change on the ground by getting all the relevant role players engaged around the table. The work is being undertaken as part of the Greater Kruger Strategic Development Programme and feeds into Strategic Objective One: Securing the natural capital base.
Another round of stakeholder engagements will take place early in June while the management plan will be finalized later that month. If you would like to participate in the Awelani Management Plan stakeholder engagements contact Wehncke van der Merwe (firstname.lastname@example.org).
FUNDERS/PARTNERS: The Global Environmental Facility through the SANParks Protected Area Programme, in partnership with SANParks, LEDET and DFFE
Understanding the meaning of gender
– Cindy Koen, From the Region For the Region (fRfR) Project Manager
The first thing to understand when it comes to gender, is that there is a very big difference between your biological sex and gender. Sex is what is known as the actual physical biological difference between women and men. Considering that 1.3 out of 1000 babies are born with an intersex condition, meaning they cannot physically be identified as male or female (Kucukemre, 2019), gender describes far more than biology.
Gender refers to the cultural and social influences that make us either the more known women or men, or the more ‘recently’ acknowledged genders represented by LGBTIQA+.
What is LGBTIQA+? This acronym generally refers to: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer/Questioning, Asexual and others.
It needs to be understood that gender is not something that is fixed as one’s sex, One’s gender evolves and develops across many spheres; influenced by culture, society, economy, and political influences. Gender, as opposed to sex, is how people identify themselves despite societal and cultural norms and expectations.
It is for this reason that there are issues pertaining to inequality and other struggles. Gender equality stretches far beyond the better-known woman empowerment issues. Some genders struggle to be identified and accepted as a specific gender beyond their biological sex.
FUNDERS/PARTNERS: Government of Flanders
 B. A. Kucukemre, N. Saka, F. Bas, E. K. Bas, A. Coban, S. Yildirim, T. Guran, F. Darendeliler. (2019) Frequency of Ambiguous Genitalia in 14,177 Newborns in Turkey, Journal of the Endocrine Society, Volume 3, Issue 6, June 2019, Pages 1185–1195, https://doi.org/10.1210/js.2018-00408
Collaborating to use BioControl Agents across the K2C Landscape.
– by Romy Antrobus-Wuth, Stewardship Ecologist
Natural enemies that are used for biological control are called biocontrol agents. In the control of invasive plants, the biocontrol agents used most frequently are insects, mites and pathogens (disease-causing organisms such as fungi) and are often introduced from the target plants country of origin. Biocontrol agents undergo strict tests to ensure they are sepcialised and will not target any indigenous plant species or breed with any indigenous insects. They are extreme specialists, designed only to feed on a specific species of plant.
In the early 1990’s roughly 30000ha of the Kruger National Park was infested by alien invasive prickly pears (Opuntia Stricta). Since then, carefully selected biocontrol agents, in the form of a cochineal insect, have been used to reduce these invasions significantly, and prevent them from re-establishing themselves.
Similarly other reserve and communal land managers across the K2C landscape are faced with the struggle of keeping alien invasive plant species under control on their properties. Many of these invasive species rely on birds and animals to disperse their seeds, allowing them to cross property boundaries, making a landscape level approach to successfully controlling invasive cactus species necessary.
As a first step in initiating a collaborative landscape approach, the K2C Biosphere and Timbavati Private Nature Reserve hosted a biocontrol workshop for interested land managers on 24 March.
Professor Iain Paterson from Rhodes University and the Centre for Biological Control (CBC) gave a presentation on the work the CBC does and their successes in using biocontrol in the Kruger National Park against specific alien invasive species. A demonstration was then given on how to infect various target plant species with specific biocontrol agents as well as details on how to receive agents from the CBC.
The K2C BR hopes to facilitate the acquisition of biocontrol agents for landowners and managers in the region as well as feed information back to the CBC for their records.
A big thank you to Timbavati Private Nature Reserve and Prof Paterson for supporting and driving this initiative.
If you are interested in accessing biocontrol agents to control AIP infestations please contact Romy Antrobus-Wuth (email@example.com) for more information.