The Biodiversity and Red Meat Initiative
CSA has assisted the members, of BRI to form an association which is now implementing further projects, including a Seedbank and wetland restoration projects. The Green Choice Alliance also supports the BRI through its well-managed farm reference guidelines, eco-ranger training, and monitoring and evaluation assistance.
This Biodiversity and Red Meat Initiative implements conservation stewardship in the Kamiesberg Uplands, also known as the Three Peaks Area, in the Northern Cape.
The area in question has been identified as important for ensuring resilience against climate change, as, due to its higher rainfall and cooler climate, certain species will be able to use the Kamiesberg as a refuge or make use of the various gradients included in the corridor to move to more suitable habitat in response to the effects of climate change. It is also important to conserve in terms of human livelihoods, especially from a water security point of view.
The Kamiesberg is the catchment for two important non-perennial rivers in the area, the Groen River and the Buffels River, and is also home to a network of wetlands important for storing water when it rains and then slowly releasing it in the dry summer months. This area is the NGED priority area in which stewardship is rolled out, and consists of a 21000 ha matrix of private and communal farmland.
Stewardship in the Three Peaks Priority Area is approached from a livelihoods perspective. As stock farming is the largest industry in the Kamiesberg, the BRI focuses on signing stewardship agreements with both communal and private stock farmers. The Three Peaks is unique in the region because of its elevation and is home to one near-endemic and one endemic vegetation type, Namaqualand Granite Renosterveld and Kamiesberg Granite Fynbos respectively, both of which are under threat from unsustainable farming activities such as overgrazing, ploughing up of wetlands and indiscriminate burning.
The area is also home the Cape leopard which, together with other vertebrate species, is under threat from indiscriminate predator control. Many endemic insect species, some of whom rely on the mountain streams and wetlands in the area for their continued existence, persist in the Kamiesberg. These threats to biodiversity are addressed through formal stewardship agreements in which farmers undertake to implement certain conservation actions including stock reduction, cooperation with wetland restoration and the formation of a fire management plan and alternative predator control methods.
In return, CSA implements enabling actions that will support farmers in adopting these better land management practices. BRI has forged a number of additional partnerships with government departments, non-governmental organizations and private land owners.
The initiative initially started with a 1 year pilot, which ended in June 2010. A ‘lessons learned’ document was compiled and recommendations for a second phase were made. During the first phase 22 farmers joined the initiative, 2 private farmers and 20 communal farmers. The area under better management was about 9000 ha. During 2011, the BRI added 23 additional communal farmers and another 2 private farmers. The BRI continues to encourage stewardship and will expand the area under better management to the entire 21000 ha Three Peaks Priority Area. CSA has worked with the BRI to develop alternative predator management strategies including Anatolian Shepard Dogs and Eco-rangers.