It’s been a busy end to the year for the K2C Team – travel is back in full swing with staff attending events in Groot Marico and Cape Town, hosting networking meetings for partners in the region and hosting the Hoedspruit Christmas Farmers’ Market. All squeezed in before the year comes to a close. Looking back on 2022, the team has much to be proud of.

We wish all our project funders and supporters a wonderful, restful and safe festive season. We look forward to working with you all to make an even bigger impact in 2023! 

The K2C Team


Highlights from a busy 2022!

Looking back on a busy 2022, the K2C Team has much to be proud of. Just SOME of the team’s project highlights include:

Hoedspruit Farmers Market: The fRfR team successfully hosted 12 Hoedspruit Farmers Markets this year. Giving on average 75 SMMEs market access on a monthly basis. The income earned by these SMMEs ranges from R500.00 per day all the way up to R20 000.00, which is a great cash injection into our landscape. We believe that with the recent changes the expansion will allow more benefits to reach the SMMEs.

WWF-Khetha: The 3 day Safe System community engagement workshop where the community attended in numbers and were actively participating in high spirits. The thing that makes this community special is the fact that they understand their issues and conflicts, knows what needs to be and have innovative ideas to improve their relationship with their natural resources and neighbouring reserves.

More than 250 000 cookstoves distributed :The #K2C#TASC Team celebrated surpassing the 250 000 fuelwood efficient cookstoves distribution target. These stoves are being distributed to community members within the biosphere.  The standard for the project is the the Verified Carbon Standards, which aims to reduce ~1.5Mt of carbon annually. The co-benefits are reduced household air pollution; time and money savings; reduced local deforestation.

Mab Youth: The launch of the Regional Mab youth forum that was hosted by UNESCO in Cape Town from the 4th – 9th of December 2022, that did not only focus on Biosphere Reserve but recognise the similarities between biospheres, World Heritage Sites and GeoParks. It was the first time that all 18 Biospheres bring their youth champions together. The week included participation at the World Science Forum and site visit to the Kogelberg Boiosphere and Cape Winelands Biosphere.

E4D SMME Skills development: The E4D team managed to successfully engage and train over 450 SMMEs within the K2C Biosphere Landscape. The training was done in smaller groups ranging between 8 and 25 and topics covered included basic business understanding, marketing, financial literacy, and green business development. We are hoping to leverage further funding to support 10% of these SMMEs in future intensive training or opportunities. (Project funded by GiZ; in partnership with SANParks)

Alien Invasive Clearing Team in the field again: The K2C team is very excited, that after a break due to a lack of funding, we now have a hard working team back in the field clearing alien invasive plants from critical water catchments. (Project funded by AFR-100; in partnership with Conservation South Africa)

CAPEX: The DWS project successfully supported 18 recipients with access to CAPEX.(Project Funded by the Government of Flanders; in partnership with Conservation South Africa and Hoedspruit Hub)

DWS Tourism: The BaDinkwanyane Tourism is growing and is proudly hosting more and more tourists at their tourism sites. Watch this space for exciting new developments taking place early in 2023. (Project Funded by the Government of Flanders; in partnership with Conservation South Africa and Hoedspruit Hub)

Waste Management: The K2C Biosphere has actively started engaging with various stakeholder in waste management. We are very excited as our Gadifeli waste buy-back centre is getting ready to trade early in 2023. This initiative is offering informal waste reclaimers the opportunity to grow within the waste management sector and increase the profitability of waste management. (Project funded by GiZ; in partnership with SANParks)

Forward with a Catchment Investment Program for the Blyde: A successful feasibility study and risk assessment was conducted during 2022, giving the K2C, The Nature Conservancy and The Nature 4 Water Facility (N4W) team the go ahead to proceed with setting up a Catchment Investment Program to assist in conserving the Blyde Catchment into the future. Watch for exciting developments in 2023! (Project Funded by the Nature 4 Water Facility and The Nature Conservancy in partnership with Conservation South Africa)

Our Water Documentary screened at international film festival: The K2C Team was excited to hear that #OurWater Documentary that was made in partnership with Caretakers has been selected for the Oregon Documentary Film Festival! Rated in the top 30% of submissions! If you haven’t yet – watch the short film here 86 Community Screenings attended by 9800 people was completed by 8x Screener with funding from #WWF-SA.

Hosted the 2022 Catchment Indaba in the K2C: At the end of October the South African National Biodiversity Institute hosted the 3rd Living Catchments Indaba in our beautiful K2C #Biosphere. Site visits were conducted by the K2C team and our partners to give delegates some insight into work taking place on the ground.

Groot Marico Learning Exchange

Dimakatso Nonyane, Resilient Waters Project Manager

From the 8th to the 10th of November 2022 four of the K2C staff represented the Biosphere in a Learning Exchange that was hosted by the Groot Marico Biosphere. It was a great learning experience as each of them was representing various different projects.

There was a lot of learning between the biospheres as they each presented on a variety of topics such as restoration efforts, gender and inclusion, communication, hydrology and funding mechanisms. This was an excellent learning opportunity for all who attended, especially for the newly formed Chimanimani Biosphere all the way from Zimbabwe, to see the diversity of projects being implemented across biospheres.

The learning exchange gave us a chance to also look at the challenges we face in biospheres and learn from one another on how to mitigate them. The highlight of the learning was that working together there is a lot that can be achieved.

The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, presented on proposed financial mechanisms that are being explored to assist with the running of biospheres. Funding is done through agreements and biospheres must submit business plans as well as previous year audited financial statements to the Provincial Department to apply.

Marico Oog, Groot Marico Biosphere

Lastly, the team got an opportunity to visit two of the Groot Marico’s attractions. The first was to the Marico Eye where their water comes from, and the land is proclaimed a Heritage Site. The second was a hike to see the magnificent Aloes. This was a much-needed learning exchange between all the biospheres. From all this we go back to our different biospheres recharged and motivated to continue with the work and to improve where we lack.


Alien Plants and Green Business Value Chain

~ Nicholas Theron and Marie-Tinka Uys

To deal with the alien invasive plant (AIP) infestations in South Africa there is a need and an opportunity to create economic, social, and environmental value to the woody biomass removed in the clearing process.

Nature-based solutions are actions to protect, sustainably manage, or restore natural ecosystems, that address societal challenges such as climate change, human health, food and water security, and disaster risk reduction effectively and adaptively, simultaneously providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits.

In the K2C context, it has been observed that a timber harvesting value chain already exists within the informal sector. This requires further investigation and understanding to find leverage points in designing Nature Based Solutions (NBS) to address the coupled challenges of socio-economic development and eco-system restoration.

Very little formal literature is available on the informal economy in the K2C, let alone a focus on alien invasive plants. Although this is the case there is local knowledge and work that has been undertaken over the years by K2C and partners and this has led to the observation of the need to better define and understand the informal economy  in order to enhance the value chain and unlock further opportunities. This also supports a shift in thinking and a move away from the notion of only exploring large and centralized projects but to focus on local informal economies.

Invasive Eucalyptus trees in the K2C Biosphere Region.

The Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Region Non-Profit Company (K2C BR NPC) with the support of the Association for Water and Rural Development (AWARD), and funded by The Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment (DFFE) are embarking on a project that aims to fill this gap and guide future efforts and will be used to inform existing restoration projects being implemented by the K2C within the context of a Catchment Investment Programme.

Ultimately, the aim is to unlock and enhance a circular invasive plant value chain that provides just and meaningful job opportunities.

If you would like to find out more please feel free to contact us

FUNDERS/PARTNERS: This project is funded by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) under the Land User Incentives programme of the Natural Resources Management Programmes Chief Directorate. This project is implemented by Kruger to Canyons Biosphere (K2C), in partnership with the Association for Water and Rural Development (AWARD).

Citizen Science Data Collection and Analysis Solution training in Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Region

 – Itumeleng Selebalo, Catchment project coordinator

The Kruger to Canyons Biosphere region (K2C BR) received support from the UNESCO’s Be-Resilient programme to implement the use of a smartphone application for citizen science data collection and analysis for the environment. This process aims to enhance the data collection procedures carried out by our ecological custodians and citizen science monitors, and most importantly, to contribute to the capacity development of our team in the field and in the offices. In addition, the training session was to give participants the background knowledge and practical experience they would need to understand how to use the GeoNode platform and implement a mobile data capture tool for citizen scientists. The importance of this training is further highlighted by the fact that citizen science enables local communities to participate in information gathering in the field and that the smartphone application unlocks the potential for this information to be used to guide decision-making and local adaptation action. Additionally, other data management systems and programmes relevant locally and nationally will be able to incorporate this information with greater ease. In the upcoming year, the pilot data management system will be put into place and rolled out to be implemented by citizen scientists in the K2C landscape.

K2C citizen Science monitors attending the MerginMap training for data collection.


K2C Partner Networking Meeting!

– Marie-Tinka Uys, K2C COO

With the K2C BR being a Greater Kruger Strategic Development Program (GKSDP) ‘cluster networking facilitator’ and gearing up for the UNESCO periodic review, the K2C Team hosted a Partner Networking Meeting on 15 November 2022 to:

  • Celebrate and track what partners are doing/working on in the landscape, and reinforce a shared understanding.
  • Use the K2C as an enabling cluster for the GKSDP by revisiting the framework and affirm collaboration.
  • Understand what the new initiatives/developments in the region are and how they all interlink, highlighting synergies.

The meeting was well attended by 73 participants representing 38 partner organisations and was a huge success. The idea was to have fun while we reflected on the common framework while building an understanding of new initiatives, such as: the GIZ E4D programme, the new GEF 6 & 7 programmes, the K2C’s Catchment Investment Programme, and the World Bank’s sustainable finance strategy.

Organisations represented at the networking meeting

Valuable inputs were garnered  in the smaller group discussions that gathered around the following themes:

  1. Secure the natural capital base
  1. Increasing employment and sustaining livelihoods
  2. Integrated land use management & planning
  3. Supporting partnerships and governance structures
  4. Strengthen data and knowledge management

The K2C BR is grateful that all area partners are taking “Collective Impact” seriously.

The full Report is available at:

Southern Africa Regional Man and Biosphere Youth Forum and participation at the World Science Forum

Itumeleng Selebalo, Catchment project coordinators

In line with UNESCO’s focus on youth development within Biosphere reserves, the Southern Africa Regional Man and Biosphere Youth program hosted a Youth Forum. The forum included youth from UNESCO World Heritage and Biosphere sites in Southern Africa, with Itumeleng Selebalo, Dumisa Khoza, and Vusi Tshabalala representing the Kruger to Canyon Biosphere.

K2C Team at the Forum

The forum highlights how important it is for young people to play a key role in raising community awareness of and ownership over the Biosphere Reserves, as well as in implementing development projects, research, citizen science projects, and environmental education programmes in their local communities. The forum brought together roughly 47 young people who took part in a number of activities, including hosting the “Youth at the World Science Forum: A World Café on Youth, Social Transformation, and Science” at the world Science forum.  The youth participated in a side event where they explored a variety of topics, such as the role of entrepreneurship, research, culture, citizen science, and heritage in addressing transformation for sustainable development in their respective regions. This process provided the Southern Africa Regional Man and Biosphere Youth with the opportunity to participate in a world-renowned science platform, network with fellow scientists and practitioners, and aid their development as scientists in the Biosphere and world heritage site in which they work. Furthermore, this process allows the participating youth to share knowledge, learn about each other’s work in the respective biospheres, and contribute to the youth network, which is constantly working towards the development of the Southern Africa Regional Man and Biosphere Youth.

FUNDERS/PARTNERS: UNESCO Be Resilient programme