Namaqualand Green Economy Demonstration
An aloe plant in Namaqualand. © CI/Photo by Tessa Mildenhall
An aloe plant in Namaqualand.
© CI/Photo by Tessa Mildenhall
Building resilience and adapting to climate change

The Namaqualand Green Economy Demonstration (NGED) has a vision to establish a biodiversity corridor of 387,000 ha of land that will have a matrix of sustainable land uses and will enable continued ecosystem functioning at a landscape level. These land uses will be compatible with conservation, whilst at the same time providing livelihood options to the inhabitants of the area.

The NGED corridor, in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa, stretches from the Kamiesberg Mountains, through communal lands, where over 90 percent of the Leliefontein farmers and 25 percent of the private farmers in the area are signed-up stewards in the process of forming a conservancy. It also incorporates the Namaqua National Park and DeBeers-owned land stretching down to the Atlantic coastline. This area includes a variety of ecosystems and gradients and our ultimate goal is that it will act as a corridor for species migration in response to climate change. The corridor is home to several endemic vegetation types and wetlands of importance; it is the only major water catchment in the area.

The NGED projects are particularly focused on forming the stewardship corridor and creating opportunities for local people to engage in alternative livelihood options, as a means of adapting to climate change. Given that climate change is expected to negatively impact the sustainability of traditional local industries like stock farming and mining, it is important that alternative livelihoods and adaptation strategies are implemented.

In late 2011, CSA commenced a five year project to consolidate and expand conservation and land management activities around ecosystems-based adaptation to climate change. We are working with several partners in the Namakwa District from research institutions, government, and local communities to develop a restoration and ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) protocol, based on comprehensive field trials and stakeholder engagement, that will provide CSA with an implementable restoration and EbA programme for this arid environment. 

This is part of an international initiative with Conservation International in Brazil and Philippines, as well as with CI Science & Knowledge, to develop and test adaptation methodologies in three different systems, an arid environment, a marine area and a tropical rainforest.  In particular the South Africa project will help us understand how grazing lands in Namaqualand uplands, particularly their important networks of wetlands, can be effectively and cost-effectively restored.