The Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Drylands Conservation Programme (EWT-DCP) recently embarked on a five-year project in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme and the Department of Environmental Affairs to promote sustainable land management (SLM) in the Nama Karoo. The project is funded by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF).

The project, entitled “Securing multiple ecosystems benefits through Sustainable Land Management in the productive but degraded landscapes of South Africa” also known as the Sustainable Land Management Project will be rolled out in three different geographic regions by three partners. The EWT will implement the project  in the Northern Cape’s Nama Karoo, Rhodes University working in the Baviaanskloof (Eastern Cape), and the CSIR working in the Oliphant’s River Catchment (Mpumalanga).

Over 80% of South Africa’s land is used for agriculture with livestock farming being the dominant rural land use. Approximately 1.5 million hectares of land in South Africa is degraded, resulting in the loss of vital ecosystem services and productive land. While the Nama Karoo is characterised by largely intact diverse natural rangelands, utilised primarily for extensive livestock production, there is a great need to halt and reverse existing degradation and adopt the most effective management practices to counter increased climatic uncertainty.

Responsible natural resource management ensures the integrity of ecosystem and the continued provision to of ecosystem services to current and future generations. Implementing sustainable management in the Nama Karoo has the potential to not only improve agricultural production and the conservation of biodiversity, but also sustain livelihoods in this arid ecosystem indefinitely.

The project aims to identify the drivers and barriers to sustainable land management. This will include an in- depth assessment of the causes of land degradation and the best available approaches to restore degraded land. A strategy will be developed to promote and implement climate-smart ecosystem management and rehabilitation measures at farm, municipal, provincial and national levels. Conducting the project in three different areas also creates the opportunity to develop and explore divergent approaches that are suitable for different settings.

To successfully implement the project it is essential that partnerships are formed with a variety of stakeholders. This will ensure that the needs, extensive knowledge and limited resources available in this landscape are all taken into consideration.

The DCP will engage with stakeholders at various levels throughout the project focusing on commercial and emerging farmers. Of interest is the generational knowledge held by farmers in the Nama Karoo. This aspect will be researched though surveys and habitat assessments  with a view to identifying a range of best practice guidelines for rangeland and restoration practices.

This information will ultimately be made available at all levels to stakeholders and decision makers though workshops and project materials. Ultimately the project will aim to achieve the following outcomes: a reduction of land degradation and improvement of ecosystem services in the Karoo; increased technical capacity and management of land degradation risks and the development of financial and governance frameworks to support the adoption of sustainable land management approaches.


Contact: Cobus Theron

Programme Manager

Endangered Wildlife Trust

Drylands Conservation Programme


Cell: +27 (0)79 508 2156


Bonnie Schumann

Senior Field Officer

Endangered Wildlife Trust

Drylands Conservation Fund


Cell: +21(0)72 1224232


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