Successful Kruger 2 Canyon Challenge 2022!
~ KZN Trail Running
We excitedly welcomed 233 runners to Laerskool Mariepskop from all corners of the country to experience the magic of running from the Bushveld to the ‘Berg for themselves.
Incredible weather on both days really allowed the beautiful diversity of the Kruger2Canyons Biosphere to shine. During the 2021 event, a fire broke out during the first stage and all runners were safely rerouted back home. It meant the world to all the race teams that we could showcase the event this weekend in all its glory!
Stage 1 demanded a significant amount of climbing for both Ultra and Marathon distance runners as they climbed and descended through the Mariepskop mountain range and forests below. Their efforts were rewarded by a smoother, runnable Stage 2 through the Blue Canyon Conservancy!
Kudos to our overall podium runners and to ALL that participated in the various routes this weekend. The courses are tough, we know!
This was the most successful K2C to date on all fronts, despite a close encounter between a runner and a lioness during the second stage. A huge thank you to the Kruger2Canyons Biosphere Team, the volunteers who so eagerly assisted in running the aid stations and supporting our runners, our race partners, and every person who joined us this weekend. This is a really special race, and we are so excited to see how it continues to grow in the years to come.
The unique medals for the day were made my the Kulani Collective, a local arts and crafts initiative. Thank you to the Phonix Capture team on site over the weekend to tell the Kruger2Canyon story.
Save the date because the next Kruger2Canyon Challenge will be held over the weekend of the 1 – 2 of July 2023!
Stakeholder Workshop to collaboratively compile biophysical data for Climate Change Adaptation modelling in the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Region (K2C BR)
– Itumeleng Selebalo
On the 3rd of July catchment conveners in the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Region (K2C) hosted a team of scientists working under the UNESCO Be Resilient South Africa (BRSA) project for the second Climate Risk Informed Decision Analysis (CRIDA) engagement. The K2C is one of four biosphere reserves selected as a pilot project towards climate change adaptation. The CRIDA process promotes a bottom-up, participatory approach to ensure inclusive solutions that aims to bridge the gap between climate science and the global circulation model information on the one hand, and the concrete ecosystem-based adaptation actions required on the local level on the other.
This workshop follows the first CRIDA workshop which was held on the 9th of November 2021. The first engagement was dedicated to stakeholder analysis and to determine potential climate risks that will affect this region based on the perspectives of the attending stakeholders from the landscape. The second CRIDA workshop was dedicated to the provision of data and scientific resources that will support the development of hydrological models, ecological models, climate stress testing and adaptation management models for the key catchment within the K2C BR.
The main stakeholders in the workshop represented organisations such as Conservation South Africa (CSA), University of Cincinnati, SANParks, Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA), The Institute for Developmental Learning and Environmental Sustainability (IDLES), Deltares, and Inkomati-Usuthu Catchment Management Agency (IUCMA). The process enabled the stakeholders to identify data gaps in the region and to put forward available data resources that will aid achieving that scientific analysis for the landscape.
The following day on the 4th May 2022 the UNESCO team participated in a catchment orientation fieldtrip which started at the Blyde dam pipeline operation site which is the first strainer point for water allocation to the agricultural areas in the lower Blyde catchment. In the second stage of the fieldtrip the team visited the Ba-Dinkwanyane Water Smart project site in Phiring and they explored the agroecological practices implemented in the demonstration gardens and small scale farms in the village.
This process paves the way to fill the data gap and to create a base understanding of the state of water resources in the catchment and how they can potentially be affected by climate changes. Therefore, the scientific analysis and modelling done through the CRIDA process enables implementors and decision makers in the landscape to work towards establishing effective interventions to improve water security and to achieve Climate Risk adaptation in the region.
Bushbuckridge Local Municipality holds their 2nd Waste Indaba
– Dimakatso Nonyane
The Bushbuckridge Local Municipality (BLM) which is one of the important stakeholders in the Biosphere hosted their second Waste Indaba at the Protea hotel, Kruger gate from the 22nd to the 24th of June 2022.
The K2C was privileged to have been part of this Indaba from the planning process to the actual event where we were represented by two of our staff members together with researchers from the University of the Western Cape who are conducting a nappy dumping survey in the K2C landscape.
The purpose of the Indaba was to update stakeholders on the status of waste management initiatives in the Bushbuckridge Local Municipality as well as welcoming ideas from the stakeholders that were present on how to better manage waste and implement better waste management initiatives such as supporting local waste pickers for recycling purposes, turning trash into treasure, turning waste into energy.
On the first day there were a couple of presentations that spoke to the development of the Municipality’s Integrated Waste Management Plan; challenges of revenue collection in rural areas that leads to a massive backlog in terms of waste not being collected and by-laws not adequately enforced.
These presentations were then followed by site visits where the BLM showcased the initiatives they support around the area such as the Madilika Craft Center where they make beadwork out of glass bottles; Swikoxeni Recycling Center where they collect recyclable materials such as cans, bottles and paper and the new Bushbuckridge landfill site that is still in the final stages of development before it can operate as the main site for the whole Municipality supporting several transfer stations. Lastly we visited the Acornhoek Buy Back Center, which was constructed by the municipality and it supports several waste pickers as they trade their waste for cash while the center seeks for better markets to sell their recyclable materials.
On the second day the Steve Tshwete Municipality graced the audience with their presentation and wowed everyone as they have received numerous awards on being one of the greenest Municipalities. This was a great learning opportunity for the BLM. The K2C also did a presentation on waste initiatives that are taking place in the landscape with the Environmental Monitors Programme and the current study that is being conducted in the landscape by the University of Western Cape and Stellenbosch University on disposal nappy use.
The day concluded with the formation of commissions that contributed SMART resolutions to assist the BLM to do better and reduce their backlog by year 2025, these were presented the following day and adopted by all.
“In partnering we can indeed achieve more in our landscape, because in these platforms that’s where we learn and adapt” – Levy Mokoen, BLM Waste management division Manager
FUNDERS/PARTNERS: USAID, Resilient Waters Program, K2C BR NPO; University of Western cape; Bushbuckridge Local Municipality.
K2C Represented at the International Research Conference: Science & Research in, for and with UNESCO Biosphere Reserves
~ Gerogina Wilson
According to UNESCO, biosphere reserves (BRs) are “learning places for sustainable development”. They are sometimes referred to as laboratories for, as UNESCO notes, “testing interdisciplinary approaches to understanding and managing changes and interactions between social and ecological systems”. In order to promote the coordination of research in, for and with BRs, as well as share positive examples within the BR network, the Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development’s Biosphere Reserves Institute (BRI) organised a week-long conference for scientists and managers in the BR space. The conference aimed to facilitate a target-oriented exchange to answer the following questions: which research questions are currently being investigated in BRs, and how can the results be used? What has been achieved in the promotion of research in BRs since the adoption of the Lima Action Plan? And; what are the most effective framework conditions, concepts, and approaches to foster target-orientated research in BRs?
To answer these questions, the BRI invited researchers and BR managers from all over the globe, with 46 different countries represented, to share their findings and discuss the implications with each other. On Monday and Tuesday, early career researchers were placed into small break-out groups with focussed topics. Here they were given the chance to present their research and talk to others looking at similar issues. On Wednesday, the researchers were joined by practitioners, and the researchers presented their findings on how to improve research and communication within and between BRs. This session was followed by some great field trips to the various sectors of the Schorfheide-Chorin BR, in which the conference was held. Those who chose the beech forest outing only narrowly escaped being carried away by mosquitoes the size of R5 coins. Other excursions explored the agricultural landscape, the unique lake system, and the peatlands. Thursday and Friday were then devoted to discussions around the best practice of research management, support and implementation, between the BR practitioners.
During the conference, K2C was represented by one of our visiting researchers, Central European University student Georgina Wilson. Georgina presented her ongoing research on adaptive management and management effectiveness in K2C’s Protected Areas during the session entitled “sustainable societies and economies”. Georgina’s (as-of-yet, incomplete) findings indicated that there are different ways of understanding management effectiveness in K2C PAs, as well as a variety of ways used to monitor or evaluate it. Some PAs face constraints to the use of tools to assist them in monitoring or evaluating management effectiveness. She has also picked up that improved communication could be an important issue to address within the PAs in K2C. Georgina’s research is not yet finished, and she looks forward to analysing her data and presenting concrete findings soon. As one of three South African researchers, Georgina was proud to represent her country, K2C and her university, and she received some interesting questions from the group regarding management effectiveness of protected areas in the South African context.
During the International movie night, K2C’s brand new “Our Water” documentary was showcased, along with videos from Germany, Vietnam and Korea. The documentary was very well-received by the audience, as were the tasters of Amarula that were supplied for the international picnic.
The conference created a unique and inspiring opportunity to connect with researchers and practitioners working in BRs across the globe, as well as share insights into K2C with a broad audience. The conference proceedings will detail the actions discussed amongst researchers and practitioners for the continual development and improvement of research and information sharing within the biosphere reserve model.
In summarising the lessons learnt and broad take-aways from the presentations and group discussions, moderator Janine Jargow noted the following: “At the moment the [biosphere reserve] is just a concept, just a vision. But maybe biosphere reserves are lifeboats, maybe they are some sort of Noah’s Ark and maybe they will be our only chance to protect the biosphere. Therefore, we need to broaden our perspective. It is not about ego, not about polished reports; it is about hope and survival! We need to write history, we have to share knowledge, we need to write and share all the biosphere stories about failure and unexpected success to learn, to adapt and to increase our chances of survival!”
"Safe Systems" Community Engagement
– by Vusi Tshabalala
The World Wide Fund for Nature – South Africa’s (WWF SA) Khetha Programme supported by USAID, in partnership with Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Region (K2C BR), piloted the Safe Systems tool in Welverdiend community in Mpumalanga. This is K2C’s Human-Wildlife Conflict (HWC) hotspot. According to WWF-Khetha (2022), the Safe Systems management tool is an approach that addresses weaknesses by looking at a landscape as a system made up of the coexistence of people and their assets, wildlife, and the habitat they occupy. Safe Systems assesses conflict through a structured stakeholder consultation process, providing guidance for people to think and discuss Human-Wildlife Conflict in a way that considers drivers rather than only the symptoms. It identifies the system’s strengths and weaknesses, thereby identifying gaps and areas of intervention and collaboration. The approach considers various elements of conflict that inform and reinforce each other to strengthen overall responses across the landscape. The discussions during the consultations create a space for stakeholders to share different views and understand perspectives among stakeholders that are not always in the same room to co-develop action plans to address conflict. By co-developing strategies to improve the safety of each component of the system, the safety of the system overall increases as conflict is reduced and leads to coexistence between people and wildlife.
A three-day community engagement meeting was held in Welverdiend with representatives from different community-based organizations, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and government departments implementing or supporting projects in the community. The participants discussed HWC issues and responded to 82 questions pertaining to five themes, namely safer people, safer assets, safer habitat, safer wildlife, and monitoring.
As a result, 24 areas requiring attention and improvement were identified which were consolidated into seven focus areas. These are fence-line maintenance, arrests/restorative justice, compensation for livestock loss, information and communication protocols, research and hotspot mapping, and land use planning. The participants then agreed on an action plan with targets and time-frames to achieve the desired results. They engaged fully throughout the three days and as a result have taken responsibility for the process going forward. The WWF South Africa (Khetha programme), in partnership with K2C and Vhembe Biosphere Reserve (VBR) and with the support from USAID, plans to pilot Safe Systems in several locations in the Greater Kruger in the next year or two to address human-wildlife conflict.
FUNDERS/PARTNERS: WWF Khetha
SaveAct Monitoring and Evaluation workshop
~ By Mpho Lavhengwa, Data Capturer
SaveAct and CHOICE visited K2C for a 3-day workshop with the purpose of offering data capturing and Monitoring and Evaluation support for savings groups in the implementation of the Dinkwanyane Water Smart (DWS) project. CHOICE is contracted by SaveAct for the DWS facilitation of mentorship and technical support with Savings groups. The team spent day 1 of the workshop at the K2C office, where all the stakeholders present, K2C, CSA, Hoedspruit Hub, SaveAct and CHOICE shared their expected outcomes from the workshop, and these were aligned with the pre- existing agenda. From these, it was duly noted that it’s important for K2C and their implementing partners to understand the SaveAct Monitoring Information System (MIS) system and the role of CHOICE in the overall project. CHOICE and SaveAct had an interest in understanding the wellbeing of the Savings groups and current system of capturing.
On day 2 Jean-Pierre Andrews, a SaveAct representative introduced the online MIS system to the K2C data capturer for the sole purpose allowing K2C to capture and own their data. The training session was followed by a visit to Phiring where the team witnessed savings groups meetings taking place. Jean-Pierre was fortunate enough to be taken on a tour to the demonstration garden by the Agroecology team. On the same day Standard Bank was visiting Phiring to open bank accounts for savings groups so they can move away from the traditional way of keeping money in a box.
On day 3 K2C and SaveAct created a holistic data collection form, which contains data points conducive to meeting both SaveAct and K2C’s needs. As a way forward it was decided that all the savings group data starting from the beginning of the first cycle will be captured into SaveAct’s (MIS) system by the K2C data capturer. This will allow K2C to have access to the data on the MIS system and be able to generate operational reports to feedback to their donors and inform strategy planning for the future.
FUNDERS/PARTNERS: Government of Flanders
LEDET International Biodiversity Day Celebration
– Keneilwe Mmushi, TASC Community Support Practitioner (CSP)
On the 31st of May 2022, the Limpopo Economic Development, Environment and Tourism (LEDET) hosted their annual International Biodiversity Day event (after 2 years of the COVID-19 pandemic) at Lebogang Day Care Center in Sunnyside Village. The theme in 2022 was “Building a shared life for all life” and this called for us to re-examine the relationship between humans and nature. The United Nations highlighted that biodiversity is the answer to several sustainable development challenges; from ecosystem-base approaches to climate and/or nature-based solutions, health issues, food & water security, and sustainable livelihoods, biodiversity is the foundation upon which we can build back better.
The day started with a tree planting ceremony where Mr. Mathole from LEDET gave an overview of the inspiration behind planting the 5 trees at the day care center which was to provide the school with ecosystem services including shade and food.
The reason behind choosing the species we were going to plant had everything to do with the geography and microclimate of the area as endemic species are heat-stress tolerant and could even be favored by climate warming. It was recommended that the pre-school kids be part of the tree planting to instill in them the write techniques to doing this whilst cultivating the love for planting and conservation, it was also going to a memorable event for them in 20 years’ time when the tree they planted is providing shade for their next generation. The presentations of the day were very insightful, they ranged from land care in agricultural land, to restoration projects that helps bring nature to equilibrium and the importance of biodiversity especially in plants which acts as carbon sinks.
K2C BR and TASC SA did a presentation on the TASC SA cookstove project which is a carbon reduction project which use less firewood and reduce the emission of black carbon.This project aims to administrate sustainable resource use mostly by reducing the amount of firewood harvested and promote the use of dead wood and twigs. David Mpebe and Daddy Mathaba explained how using the stove will reduce the rate of deforestation, allow for communities living in the trees being cutdown to have a surviving chance if not thrive which will in turn enhance the biodiversity of the area. Daddy Mathaba demonstrated how to use the stove outlining all the environmental, socio-economic and health benefits that comes with the stove. He further notified the local leadership about the distribution plan and the way the distribution will roll out to ensure that the distribution runs smoothly and is well planned out. All community members were very eager to receive the stoves and even people form sector departments wanted them!
The event had over 45 participants who are activists of nature and would like to see developments and projects in local communities taking a nature-based approach as biodiversity is the answer to several sustainable development challenges and this approach could be the one that yields better results and production.
FUNDERS/PARTNERS: TASC SA, LEDET, Mopani District Municipality, LDARD
Exploring the possibility of introducing fuel-efficient Institutional cookstoves in the K2C Biosphere Region
– David Mpebe
The mutually beneficial, problem-solving partnership between the African Stove Company (TASC) and the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Region (K2C) yields results that effectively mitigate the emissions of carbon into the atmosphere. The two organisations distribute free fuel-efficient cookstoves to community members across the K2C landscape. The targeted group for distributing the fuel-efficient cookstove are households that use open fires as their primary cooking method. The households then transition from using the open fire to using the eco-friendly cookstove as a primary tool for cooking, thereby reducing the amount of carbon emitted into the atmosphere. To date (as of 07 July 2022) over 180 000 fuel-efficient cookstoves have been distributed within the K2C landscape.
TASC and the K2C are considering the possibility of introducing fuel-efficient cookstoves to institutions such as schools, daycares, etc. The institutional stoves being contemplated on are the ones already distributed in households in so far as benefits are concerned. The institutional cookstoves are more of a social development initiative where the free cookstoves will significantly reduce the amount of fuel wood used by schools, thereby significantly reducing the costs associated with the acquisition of fuelwood. In addition, there will be a greater environmental impact where there will be a reduction in levels of deforestation as well as reduced levels of carbon emissions into the atmosphere. The institutional stove will be bigger so as to be able to accommodate the bigger tripods used by institutions.
To gauge the feasibility and the needs of the schools, a baseline study is thus, prerequisite to assist with the forecast. Consequently, in June 2022, a preliminary baseline study was conducted in the Northwest and Southeast clusters (delineated geographical focus areas within the K2C landscape). The results of the study are currently being studied and will determine the needs and the feasibility of the project and guide the two organisations on the course of action to follow. The K2C and TASC, respectfully, extend their deepest gratitude to the schools that participated in the baseline study.
FUNDERS: TASC SA