REstoration | Community

Gouritz Ecological Corridors Project

Location

The project focuses is on the enhancement of ecological functionality of the Gouritz mountain and river corridors in the Langeberg region comprising Riversdale-Herbertsdale-Ruiterbos.

The project area also has a Northern extension into the Rooiberg-Gamkaberg mountain regions in the semi-arid Klein Karoo.

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Period

2019 – 2025

Partnership

DOB Ecology, Local farmers, CapeNature, Southern Cape Fire Protection Association, Agri Wes Kaap, Working for Wetlands, LandCare, and other stakeholders

Total number of participating Landowners

Total number of hectares for participating landowners

Please note: These statistics are quoted from project inception to February 2024

Project Objective

To establish and maintain ecological corridors in the Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve, through landscape rehabilitation and promoting sustainable land-use practices by supporting farmers and landowners.

This project aims to enhance landscape-scale ecological processes along mountain ranges, rivers associated with the Gouritz River and micro corridors within transformed landscapes. Corridors are landscape-level ecological connections that are critical for ecological processes and the long-term survival of wild animals and plants, especially in the context of climate change.

The project aims to establish landscape-level strategies for effective fire management, successful invasive alien plant control, and improved river and wetland health by means of growing collaboration between farmers and other landowners. By identifying and analysing environmental threats and opportunities with farmers and stakeholders, the project aims to assist with implementing practical and cooperative strategies to address threats and opportunities at a landscape scale.

Project Implementation

Much of our region and country’s most ecologically sensitive areas fall on private land. Maintaining these areas, and implementing ecological restoration is therefore intrinsically linked to working with the landowners of these properties. Therefore, unlike many traditional ecological restoration projects, the ecological corridor project focuses more on building relationships with farmers and landowners and supporting them in their management of, and decision-making regarding their land. 

Corridor Building and Conservation Extension 

 

  • Regular extension services to willing landowners to establish joint landscape level strategies:
    Through a skilled extension and communications team, local capacity and partnerships are strengthened to restore and protect natural ecosystems of high conservation value, in a network of mountain and river corridors. Landscape level strategies include: 
    • strategies for effective fire management 
    • soil conservation 
    • wildlife management 
    • successful invasive alien plant control 
    • and improved river and wetland health 
  • Leveraging resources, expertise and technical support:
    Identifying and analysing environmental challenges with local stakeholders and other partners, the programme will assist landowners with implementing practical and co-operative solutions on a landscape-wide scale, to support sustainable farming livelihoods and local biodiversity.

    The overall aim is to leverage stakeholder action – getting landowners to partner with GCBR in the work of the Biosphere Reserve! 

  • Innovation, demonstration, knowledge development and communication:  

    Stakeholder communication networks: 
    • The project seeks to build and maintain communication channels across various stakeholders in the landscape, both on a local level, and institutional level (for example, between protected areas (under CapeNature management) and private landowners: the extension team will engage with in-field reserve managers where necessary; the GCBR Chief Executive maintains relationships with senior CapeNature officials on pertinent matters).


      Knowledge development:
       

    • The project continues to develop various information resources which will help landowners achieve goals towards sustainable land-use practices (see resources such as the landowners portal or the management guidelines). Additionally, demo

      Demonstration and Innovation: 

    • Support is given to landowners to trial new methods in sustainable land management, such as doing trial methods of intercropping and no till methods, or planning new veld burning regimes in collaboration with neighbouring landowners.  
    • Innovative methods of land rehabilitation are being tested in collaboration with the Gouritz Resilient Rivers Project (the restoration implementing project of the GCBR) – see the project page here for more details.