Wildlands Conservation Trust in KZN

Pretoria - Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa has launched a R22-million Green Fund project in the uPhongolo Local Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal.

Known as 'Farming the wild', the initiative is a community based project supported by the Green Fund. It aims to green the rural community of Somkhanda through the establishment of the Somkhanda Community Game Reserve.

The Green Fund is a national fund, under the Department of Environmental Affairs and managed by the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), which supports South Africa's transition to a green economy.

It provides finance to facilitate investment in greening initiatives, such as the establishment of this game reserve.

"The Somkhanda game reserve application for support was successful and is funded to the value of R22 million, as a green economy solution suitable for the rural areas of South Africa.

"It has the potential to be replicated across poor rural areas, with particular potential in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces. The sustainable use and conservation of wild animal and indigenous vegetation resources have the ability to green and transform the poor rural economy of South Africa," said the department on Friday.

The land on which the game reserve is founded was restored to the community of Somkhanda through the land reform process in 2005. The community decided to place the majority of the land under conservation and create a game reserve that would be an economic engine driving development in the area.

The area has been kept completely "wild", thereby restoring and conserving the green infrastructure on which the green economy should be based.

The Somkhanda community has formed partnerships with the Wildlands Conservation Trust and the World Wildlife Fund to guide them in establishing the game reserve.

Game farm benefits

Through this partnership, various skills development projects have been introduced to members of the community.

The Somkhanda game reserve is a participant of the Black Rhino Range Expansion Programme, which introduces rare and endangered black rhino to the reserve.

Somkhanda has also been promoted as a flagship project for land restitution and transformation in South Africa, as well as an example of conservation-based community development.

Some of the game already purchased includes buffalo, impala and zebra.

"Revenue can be generated from hunting, live game sales, game products and ecotourism. Therefore, the project contributes significantly to alleviating poverty through the creation of employment opportunities, revenue generation and the establishment of supporting and secondary industries as stimulated by their ecotourism development.

"The project will create approximately 80 jobs. Thus far, 28 permanent and 15 temporary jobs have been created," said the department.

The project will be implemented by the Wildlands Conservation Trust, who will coordinate all financial expenditure of the project.

SAGEM report launched

Molewa also launched the South African Green Economy Modelling (SAGEM) Report, which explores the question of whether equal or higher growth could be achieved with a more sustainable, equitable and resilient economy.

"South Africa views a green economy as a sustainable development path that is based on addressing the interdependence between economic growth, social protection and natural ecosystems. The SAGEM was therefore developed to explore the transition to a green economy for South Africa, with special attention for its ability to meet low carbon growth, resource efficiency and pro-job development targets," the department explained.

The transition to a green economy in South Africa is linked to many policies, strategies and plans, including the National Development Plan, the New Growth Path, the National Climate Change Response Policy and the Industrial Policy Action Plan.

The SAGEM report is closely aligned to these policies and plans. It seeks to present a modelling process and test the national targets and the effects of investing in a green economy in South Africa.

The department and its stakeholders have committed to continuing initiatives that will simulate green economy investments.

The department said it will regularly update the SAGEM report, as and when new relevant policies and scenarios arise. - SAnews.gov.za