Exciting times for the Badinkwanyane Tourism Association
~ Ciny Koen
With the ever-changing tourism market, it is important for tourism services providers to stay on top of market trends. One of these trends is the demand for immersive tourism experiences where people do not only hear the story of a country/town/village, but actually get to experience it.
That is exactly what the BaDinkwanyane Tourism Association (BTA) Homestays will offer.
Guest will have the opportunity to live in a guest room in the Phiring community, share meals with the families, tend the land, and experience village life like a local. This is also a great opportunity for locals to become financially stronger and resilient in the face of climate change. This amazing accommodation opportunity with the spectacular sites that the BTA has to offer is definitely a must for all tourists visiting this area.
We are happy to announce that the training for the Homestay Moms is now complete and we are adding a few finishing touches to the services. Some of the K2C Team members where privileged to do a trial run for us and were treated to the best the community has to offer! A soft launch will be done for the community followed by a bigger launch in September for the celebration of Tourism Month.
Watch this space as bookings will be opening soon.
FUNDERS/PARTNERS: Government of Flanders
Launch of the K2C Catchment Investment Programme Business Case
~ Romy Antrobus-Wuth, Conservation Science & Data Manager
The Cookstove project in the K2C BR
~David Mpebe, Keneilwe Mmushi, Oky Sibashi and Hope Morema – Cookstove Project’s Community Support Practitioners.
An educational facet of the cookstove project
Project support teams are deployed by the TASC Fuel efficient cooking in South Africa project, within different clusters in the K2C landscape, to fulfil a supportive role to the communities who receive free, fuel-efficient cookstoves. The teams support community members throughout the project lifespan and act as a liaison between the communities and the organizations involved in the project. Consistent support and orientation ensure that community members adopt the cookstoves into their daily life and maximises the beneficial impacts of the project.
At the crux of their role is an educational aspect which aims to ensure that community members are educated on a variety of topics pertaining to the social, economic, financial, and environmental impacts of using the cookstoves. Facilitation of education for sustainable development is enabled and fostered by the teams through village, and household, level engagements with community members. The teams also conduct presentations during workshops and other public gatherings where topics also extend to matters related to the cookstove project such as climate change, deforestation, carbon emissions, and ecological footprints. These engagements are invaluable as community members are made aware of how to use the stove, maintenance and safety precautions, end-user agreements and project monitoring. This enables community members to make informed decisions on their day-to-day cooking activities.
Ongoing monitoring surveys are an important post distribution tool to measure the end-user’s understanding and use of the stove. The support teams visit random households to conduct one-on-one interviews with stove beneficiaries and record the feedback on a mobile app. In cases where a cookstove beneficiary does not know how to use the stove, they conduct a demonstration, and the household has an opportunity to ask any questions related to the project and cookstove.
Kitchen Performance Test (KPTs)
The Kitchen Performance Test (KPT) is the principal field–based procedure to measure household fuelwood consumption. This best practice protocol, approved by the Clean Cooking Alliance, is applied in the project to determine the effect of stove interventions on household fuel consumption. Before stove distribution, KPTs and kitchen habit surveys were carried out across the K2C landscape to determine the baseline household firewood consumption. Following distribution, KPTs are conducted again to determine the change in household fuel consumption in the project scenario.
Households across the landscape are randomly selected according to the UN Clean Development Mechanism’s guideline for sampling and surveys. The samples are statistically representative at a 95% confidence/10% precision reliability. The monitoring team carries out the KPTs over 5 consecutive days where they measure the daily wood-fuel use and moisture levels. Households are encouraged to continue with their normal cooking habits during the KPTs to ensure an accurate reflection of their wood consumption. The KPT protocol captures the total household wood fuel consumption and therefore also captures any residual baseline open-fire usage alongside the cookstoves. Kitchen habit surveys are also carried out in the project scenario to determine the proportion of stove recipients that use the stove and to track changes in cooking behaviour. The information is captured on a mobile app and all records are maintained in a custom-built, cloud-hosted database for all data collection and monitoring.
The monitoring report and project documentation, which includes the KPT results, the distribution database, stakeholder consultation reports and emission reduction calculations, are audited by an independent, accredited third-party Validation and Verification Body (VVB). The VVB further verifies the project information through a site visit and interviews with stakeholders and end-users across the project.
To date, the project has successfully completed the validation audit and two verification audits. Ongoing habit and KPT surveys provide a rich dataset of cooking habits and stove usage, as well as of fuel consumption and fuel savings across the project, far exceeding the standard and methodological sampling and monitoring requirements.
 Bailis, R. 2007. Kitchen Performance Test (KPT) https://cleancooking.org/binary-data/DOCUMENT/file/000/000/83-1.pdf
FUNDERS/PARTNERS: TASC and the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Region
 Bailis, R. 2007. Kitchen Performance Test (KPT) https://cleancooking.org/binary-data/DOCUMENT/file/000/000/83-1.pdf
Working towards Green Destinations Sustainable Tourism Destination Certification
~ Tom Vorster
In February 2023 we commenced with the process of obtaining Green Destinations Certification for the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Region.
Green Destinations, headquartered in the Netherlands, is a global organisation set up to support sustainable destinations, their businesses, and their communities. The certification program is a means by which a destination can apply a set of internationally recognised set of criteria to measure, monitor and improve the sustainability and management of destinations and regions.
Kruger to Canyons first step in the process was to apply to participate in Green Destinations Top 100 Stories program. This is an annual competition that collects and celebrates initiatives from destinations globally, inspiring responsible tourism leadership.
While recognition as a selected Top 100 Story by Green Destinations is prestigious and confirms that the destination is following a sustainable path. The best of the Top 100 Stories in various categories are recognised annually at the ITB Travel Show in Berlin, Germany which significantly raises the profile of the destination globally, particularly within the tourism industry where demand for sustainable tourism destinations is becoming increasingly more important.
Upon receiving confirmation that our application, as a sponsored competitor, in the Top 100 Stories, the K2C team were required to present a detailed submission comprising 15 core Green Destinations Core criteria. This was in effect a sustainability check of the region by Green Destinations for which applicants are required to achieve a score of 60% or higher in order to proceed to the second step in the Top 100 Stories program. Our application was adjudicated to have achieved a score of over 60% which permitted us to progress to preparing a Top 100 Story submission.
The Kruger to Canyons Top 100 Story is currently being finalised and is due for submission by 1 July. Watch this space.
First Mpumalanga Biodiversity Stewardship Forum in 10 Years!
~ Romy Antrobus-Wuth, Conservation Science & Data Manager
After years of intense international negotiations and delays, the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) was finally adopted at the Biodiversity COP15 in Montreal in December 2022, including an ambitious plan to protect 30% of lands and seas across the globe by 2030. South Africa supports the global 30X30 target and is committed to expanding and enhancing its conservation areas to the maximum possible within its capabilities and circumstances. South Africa’s approved National Protected Areas Expansion Strategy (NPAES) provides a provincially informed approach on the expansion of the conservation estate with an annual increase target of 0.5%. Even at this rate, South Africa will only reach 28% by 2036 for its terrestrial systems, and 10% by 2036 for its marine territory. For South Africa to contribute meaningfully to 30×30, the actions set out in target 3 to expand and enhance our conservation estate need to be initiated immediately and with increased ambition and support from all involved.
The NGO sector plays a large role in the securing of new protected areas in South Africa through the national Biodiversity Stewardship Initiative. Many of the organisations driving protected area expansion in Mpumalanga met in the little village of Kaapsehoop on the 16th and 17th May for the Mpumalanga Biodiversity Stewardship Forum. Hosted by Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) and funded by WWF-SA, the forum created a platform for MTPA to reflect on their targets and for organisations to share their progress in the province and discuss challenges and opportunities. For the first time in 10 years partners working tirelessly to protect Mpumalanga’s biodiversity enjoyed the opportunity to network with each other and attend a field visit to some of the sites being restored and protected by the The Kaapsehoop Heritage Association.
All agreed that the event was very beneficial and created a welcome space to learn about what others in the region are doing and strengthen relationships between organisations. The hope is this will become an annual event to help drive the 30×30 agenda and we won’t need to wait another 10 years to get together and celebrate Mpumalanga’s amazing biodiversity.
FUNDERS/PARTNERS: MTPA and WWF-SA
Maruleng Market Training
~ Lethabo Rasakanya, Pro Nature-economic development Coordinator
The Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Region through the Pro Nature Economic Development Project, conducted training for Maruleng Small, Medium, and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) and the Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS)/Community Citizen and Science Monitoring (CCSM) team. The training was funded by the Maruleng Municipality. The objective of the training was to empower the Maruleng SMMEs and IKS/CCSM to understand the establishment of the Hoedspruit Farmers Market and how they could facilitate the creation of a value chain market in their communities, fostering economic growth and social development within the region.
The training began with a session on Market 101, where participants shared their perspectives on what a market meant to them. They considered the historical significance of markets as trading hubs and discussed the challenges associated with them. They highlighted how markets were traditionally perceived as places for exchanging goods, often accessed through monthly pay points. However, the introduction of new technology and innovation, such as smart SASSA cards and payment options in malls, led to the removal of pay points from the villages. The Maruleng SMMEs and IKS/CCSM explained the present-day understanding of a market and emphasized the need for a community-driven market in Maruleng.
They emphasized how their businesses have been struggling with market access and primary function is to provide exposure and a platform for SMMEs to sell their diverse goods to the communities.
The second session of training included a mini-market event where each SMME brought their products to sell to the K2C staff. This event showcased the diversity of products and demonstrated the essence of a market. The activity was followed by a task of knowing the mission, vision, and goals of the market. The mission/vision of the Maruleng Market was defined as “to spark an interest and create a platform for small-scale farmers and entrepreneurs by empowering them through knowledge exchange and offering vibrant locally produced conservation-compatible goods to Maruleng consumers”. Taking the environment, socio-economic factors in place, the Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound (SMART) goals were established, including reaching a target of 1000 customers within two years: fostering an all-inclusive market, and ensuring a profitable, clean, and safe market space. The market aimed to bring products, knowledge/education, and services to both the community and businesses.
Participants learned about the importance of market layout and the key elements necessary for a market to function effectively. They engaged in a stakeholder mapping session to identify relevant parties required for smooth market operations. Practice runs were conducted to equip participants with the skills to engage stakeholders successfully. Discussions revolved around the types of products that could be sold at the market and the allocation of responsibilities to the Maruleng Market committee. The challenges associated with a market were also addressed, and business strategies to overcome these challenges were discussed. The potential name of the market was discussed as “Maruleng,” along with deliberations on dates, places, times, a to-do list, and stall prices for the Maruleng Smart Market. Participants also engaged in an activity to create a message to attract people to the market, resulting in the phrase, “Pop into our Smart Market, the home of quality and diverse products brought to your fingertips at accessible prices.”
Participants visited the Hoedspruit Farmers Market and had a feedback session to share their experiences. They were inspired by the diversity of stalls and emphasized the importance of factors such as family outings, timing, location, friendly SMMEs, emotional connection with customers, involvement of NGOs, inclusion of IKS food systems, pricing, and proper market research. Participants discussed what makes a market successful within an area and identified various tools to improve market functioning. These included the need for variety, opportunities for people to engage, a vibrant atmosphere, financial security, exposure to spread indigenous knowledge, food and skills, market access, and encouragement of youth entrepreneurship.
The key lessons from the training emphasized the power of knowledge exchange and its impact on addressing poverty, unemployment, and inequality within rural regions, particularly among the youth involved in SMME entrepreneurship. Participants learned key lessons, including exposure to diverse products from local SMMEs, leveraging each other’s strengths for success, understanding the dos and don’ts of a market, stepping out of their comfort zones, recognizing the power of word of mouth, understanding and utilizing possibilities, the importance of leadership, exposure to more business opportunities, transparency within networks, the transformative power of unity, understanding customers’ needs, exposure to Indigenous Knowledge Systems, the involvement of various stakeholders, willingness to pursue opportunities, recognizing talent, adapting strategies to different opportunities, and the value of knowledge exchange.
Overall, the training for Maruleng SMMEs and IKS/CCSM on the Hoedspruit Farmers Market provided valuable insights and practical learning experiences. The participants gained a deeper understanding of markets, developed skills to establish and operate a market successfully, and recognized the potential for economic growth and social development within their communities. The training highlighted the importance of knowledge exchange and collaboration in empowering SMMEs and fostering inclusive and vibrant market spaces. As a token of appreciation, the participants were awarded with certificates of competency for attending the training.
FUNDERS/PARTNERS: Pro Nature Economic development project, from the Region for the Region (fRfR), Maruleng Municipality, IKS/CCSM, UNESCO MAB programme
Groundtruth Freshwater Water Health Monitoring Training Empowers Citizen Scientists in K2C Landscape
~ Itumeleng Selebalo, Catchment project coordinator
Under the UNESCO Be-Resilient Project, a two-day training workshop was held on the 8th and 9th of June in the village of Phiring facilitated by GroundTruth. The workshop aimed to equip Citizen Science Monitors and Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) custodians with the necessary skills to monitor and assess the health of freshwater resources in the K2C landscape. This initiative not only provided valuable training but also fostered a deeper understanding of the impact of human activities on water resources. The training workshop focused on empowering participants to effectively communicate the stories of water resources and the consequences of human actions through their monitoring work. By providing them with the tools and knowledge to collect and analyze data, the workshop aimed to enable citizen scientists to identify environmental concerns in their communities and take action for environmental change.
One of the key aspects of the training workshop was the introduction to various monitoring tools and techniques. Participants were familiarized with tools such as miniSASS, a Velocity Plank, Clarity Tube, E. coli test kits, and meters to measure parameters like temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, and electric conductivity. These tools are essential for assessing the health of freshwater ecosystems and understanding the changes occurring within them. Through hands-on exercises and field visits, participants gained practical experience in using these monitoring tools. They learned how to conduct water quality assessments, measure flow rates, and analyze the physical and chemical parameters of the water. This training not only enhanced their scientific knowledge but also provided them with the necessary skills to interpret the data collected and identify potential environmental threats.
Furthermore, the workshop emphasized the importance of incorporating Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) in freshwater monitoring practices. Participants explored the contrasts between past and current lifestyles, linking traditional knowledge practices with modern scientific techniques. By integrating IKS, citizen scientists and IKS custodians can contribute unique insights into the health of freshwater resources, thereby enriching the overall understanding of ecosystem dynamics.
As these newly trained citizen scientists and IKS custodians continue their monitoring efforts, their data and insights will contribute to a comprehensive understanding of freshwater ecosystems in the K2C landscape. This knowledge will inform decision-making processes, guide conservation efforts, and ultimately contribute to building a resilient and sustainable future for the region. The training workshop in Phiring marked a significant step towards harnessing the power of citizen science and indigenous knowledge for environmental monitoring and conservation. By engaging and empowering local communities, we can foster a sense of ownership and responsibility towards our water resources, ensuring their long-term health and resilience. With the commitment and dedication of these citizen scientists, the K2C landscape is on the path to a more sustainable and prosperous future, where freshwater resources thrive, and the harmony between human activities and nature is restored.
FUNDERS AND PARTNERS: UNESCO Be-Resilient; GroundThruth
Leadership Training for Eco-system Custodians in Phiring
~Dumisa Khoza, Site coordinator
The DWS project, through its implementation partner Hoedspruit Hub, facilitated a 2-day leadership training for the Ecosystem Custodians (ECs). The need for this workshop rose after the group’s performance appraisal and data report indicated a drop in the group’s performance towards their key performance areas and was then remedied with this constructive approach.
Climate change resilience and adaptation requires innovative, creative, and decisive mind-sets capable of leading and implementing sustainable concepts. The leadership training overview was designed for the Dinkwanyane team to help them rebuild their morale, shift from a reactive to a proactive mindset, and develop smart goals. The program aimed to provide the team with the necessary tools and knowledge to improve their leadership skills and work together more efficiently.
During the first session of the training, we focused on rebuilding the team’s morale. We started by conducting a team-building exercise that encouraged open communication and collaboration. We also discussed the importance of recognizing and appreciating team members’ efforts and contributions. By the end of this session, the team was more united, and their morale had significantly improved. The session opened up a discussion on leadership qualities and functions, different opinions and understandings were shared and all led to the POLC concept. The POLC concept entails that a good leader must be able to Plan, Organise, Lead and most importantly have Control. Each value complements the other and must all be observed to advocate good leadership.
The leadership training was a definite success! The team already shows significant improvement in their morale, mindset, and goal-setting skills. They were more united, proactive, and aligned with the project’s objectives. The training provided the team with the necessary tools and knowledge to improve their leadership skills and work together more efficiently. The Ecosystem Custodians in their reflections shared that had they acquired this skill earlier; they would have conquered most of the difficulties they have come across in the workplace and in their personal lives.
FUNDERS/PARTNERS: Government of Flanders & Hoedspruit Hub
Celebrating Biodiversity Day in the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Region
~ Itumeleng Selebalo, Catchment project coordinator
Event 1: Biodiversity Day Talk at Southern Cross College
On May 23, 2023, the Southern Cross College was abuzz with enthusiasm as Itumeleng Selebalo, a member of the K2C team, addressed the students and faculty on the importance of biodiversity. The talk aimed to shed light on the significance of preserving the nature in the K2C biosphere, a rich biodiversity hotspot in the region. Itumeleng captivated the audience by emphasizing the interdependence of all living organisms and their habitats.
During her presentation, Itumeleng stressed the importance of biodiversity conservation not only for the survival of various species but also for human well-being. She highlighted the role of the biodiversity in providing essential ecosystem services, such as clean air, water purification, and climate regulation. Furthermore, Itumeleng joined the Enviro Club at Southern Cross College. By engaging with students, she aimed to foster a sense of responsibility and encourage them to take action towards conserving biodiversity in their daily lives. The event at Southern Cross College was a resounding success, with the attendees leaving with a deeper understanding of the critical role biodiversity plays in sustaining our planet.
FUNDERS/PARTNERS: UNESCO Be-Resilient
Chemonics team visits the K2C landscape
~ Dimakatso Nonyane, Restoration Project Manager (AFR100)
On the 20th of May 2023 the Chemonics ENR practice visited the K2C landscape to understand more about the work that was done through the Resilient Waters Programme. We met the team at Swadini Resort where Marie-Tinka Uys (K2C COO) gave an overview of the K2C landscape and a brief history around the infrastructure development mainly the Blyde Dam.
We took the team on a mini hike and stopped at the waterfall that paints a perfect picture of the K2C projects’ linkages. Especially work centred around catchment management from the top of the escarpment to the bottom communities who rely on the clean water for various activities, the main one being agriculture.
We gave the team an overview of the work that was implemented with the Resilient Waters funding which included the restoration work up at the Mariepskop State Forest; the Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) awareness in communities and how we are building on the work after the funding has come to an end through other funding streams, such as the Our Water documentary facilitation through the support of WWF-SA; nappy survey research in partnership with the University of the Western Cape and the UNESCO Be-Resilient project which aims to strengthen Biospheres and their communities to address climate change challenges and associated water related hazards.
One of the Citizen science Monitors Jeffrey Sekgobela demonstrated the freshwater monitoring activities that happened daily in the catchment areas and the team was fascinated at how science is much more accessible to community members than it used to be.
FUNDERS/PARTNERS: USAID; Resilient waters (Chemonics); UNESCO.
Skills Programme FETC: Nature Conservation Natural Resource Guardianship Terrestrial NQF level 4 at Finale Village.
~ Thembani Maluleke
On the 2nd to 5th of May 2023 the K2C team joined the Nature Conservation Natural Resource Guardianship Terrestrial training, hosted by SirSam Foundation (NPO) at Finale Village, targeting 20 unemployed youth. The goal of this training was to equip the Youth Generation with knowledge and skills to enable them to become the custodians and caretakers of our natural resources which is our heritage.
Habitat loss and degradation are among the most pressing threats facing global biodiversity.This training consisted of Two (2) Unit Standards: SAQA ID 257163 & 257177. The first unit standard SAQA ID: 257163 Monitor and regulate resources for harvesting aimed at equipping the community to monitor and regulate the harvesting of both flora and fauna in support of established conservation objectives. Through attending this course, we expect that the learners/community should be able to select appropriate harvesting procedures, supervise the harvesting process and also assess the effect of the harvest in order to effectively manage the area.
The second unit standard SAQA ID: 257177 Propagate and re-introduce indigenous plants was aimed at equipping learners with skills and knowledge to assist in achieving predetermined management objectives relating to the preservation of indigenous plant resources and it will also enhance their knowledge in indigenous botany. We expected learners to identify common and threatened indigenous plants and plant parts that are present in their area, be able to determine the economic value of common indigenous species, propagate and re-introduce indigenous plants in the area of operation and lastly be able to perform basic plant monitoring techniques to support propagation and re-introduction initiatives.
In South Africa Biodiversity Stewardship has become the main tool used to expand the network of terrestrial protected areas, protected areas remain the best mechanism to conserve biodiversity priority areas. However, we also need to protect our surroundings! This underlines the important need for us to protect, responsibly co-habit and enhance the potential of our natural resources in the context of the definition of Sustainable Development and avoid existing and perceived conflicts’ between man and wild species. As such these kin, this kind of training should be implemented more often in the K2C Biosphere Region.
FUNDERS/PARTNERS: SirSam Foundation
Dutch Visitors Programme
~ Nicholas Theron, Senior Programme Manager
Nicholas Theron from the K2C was privileged to be invited by the Dutch Government to attend a Learning exchange to the Netherlands from 2-5 April 2023. The aim of the visit was to enhance cooperation and the exchange of knowledge between South Africa and the Netherlands. The group from South Africa represented various fields and sectors and included Sasol, Eskom, ZZ2, Letaba Water Users Association and a member of the Mabandla Royal Family from the Eastern Cape.
During the trip we were exposed to various initiatives and projects undertaken by the Dutch to overcome and address some overwhelming challenges and many of these have relevance to us in South Africa. The trip was an amazing experience and we visited such diverse places as Deltares, the World Horti Centre, Biessboch National Park and Limburg. Each stop focused on a relevant theme that covered fields such as water, climate adaptation, energy transition, wastewater treatment and agriculture. The diverse group also meant that there were very engaging and interesting discussions with a lot of fun, good humour and local beer thrown in as well.
The most important lesson that I learnt is that even though we face many challenges in South Africa there are solutions and no matter how enormous the challenge it can be overcome if we work together especially across sectors. The group we were with were incredible ambassadors for South Africa and it struck me that we often don’t realize that South Africa is full of people who are working hard behind the scenes to make our country a better place often under enormous pressure and faced with daunting odds. Most of all the trip made me proud to be a South African!
FUNDERS/PARTNERS: Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO)
Resilient Waters Close Out Event
~ Dimakatso Nonyane, Restoration Project Manager (AFR100)
The Resilient Waters Programme team hosted an informative close-out event at the Pretoria Botanical Gardens on the 11th of May 2023 which brought together practitioners, researchers, and civil society to reflect on lessons learned from the Resilient Waters Programme. The K2C was honoured to have been one of the recipients of the grant to fulfil one of its visions around testing a restoration project and capacity development in communities.
With the Resilient Waters funding we were able to test out an intermediate restoration team that complemented the efforts of other NRM projects within the Lowveld Plantation. Not only did the team clear alien invasive plants, they also received monthly capacity development from our partners AWARD, which equipped each member with various skills such as communication and writing. Through this funding we were able to reach around 500 community members on issues concerning water hygiene and sanitation in the critical time when Covid 19 had just hit.
We are delighted to have been part of this five-year program that aimed to build more resilient and water-secure Southern African communities and ecosystems. Thanks to Resilient waters we have tested that intermediate team model works, we can approach funders around catchment management initiatives with concrete data and lessons learned to inform future restoration projects.
FUNDERS/PARTNERS: USAID; Resilient waters; AWARD.