KAROO FOREVER – IN CELEBRATION OF KNOWLEDGE

Bonnie Schumann, Nama Karoo Coordinator, EWT Dryland Conservation Programme, bonnies@ewt.org.za

Would you like to know about optimising veld recovery after droughts? Or what your rights are in terms of developments near you that you do not support? Did you know about a great new app that focuses specifically on helping you to get to know your Nama-Karoo plants? You can download this app on Android and Apple devices. All this information and many more resources are available on the Karoo Forever website launched by the EWT’s Drylands Conservation Programme last year.

The website is one of the outcomes of the Karoo Forever Sustainable Land Management Project that we initiated four years ago. Throughout this project, we developed a range of resources for farmers. We realised there was a need for a dedicated platform on which to make these resources available to farmers. Sonja Berg of iXOXO – The Idea Factory took up the challenge to develop a user-friendly website providing various resources, ranging from a series of webinars to best practice guidelines for various regenerative approaches to managing Karoo farmland. By developing the digital platform, we have ensured that the great deal of valuable knowledge shared by experts during live and digital events remains available to anyone interested in learning more about sustainable land management in the Drylands. The emphasis is on the Karoo, but the content is relevant to drylands worldwide.

During 2018 we developed, in collaboration with agricultural specialists, an Integrated Farm Planning and Management training (IFP) course. The course was presented twice in the Northern Cape in 2019, but due to the COVID-19 related lockdowns imposed in 2020, additional live courses scheduled weren’t presented. Fortunately, we were already well on the way to adapting the FREE course for our online platform, so it went “live” on the website in March 2020.

Interestingly, besides farmers and agricultural extension officers, we have had participants ranging from students to tour guides and conservation officials completing this “farming” course. These include several Western and Northern Cape conservation officials. The conservation officials work with landowners, mainly in a biodiversity stewardship context, and reported to us that the knowledge gained has given them a better understanding of sustainable land management principles and illuminated some of the challenges and solutions faced by farmers who farm in the drylands. This knowledge is helping to inform their approach to farmers with a view to more effectively integrating conservation and agricultural priorities.

When Sir Francis Bacon published in his work, Meditationes Sacrae (1597), the saying: “knowledge itself is power“, he most likely wanted to convey the idea that having and sharing knowledge is the cornerstone of reputation and influence, and therefore power; all achievements emanate from this. More than 400 years later, access to knowledge is merely the click of a button away. However, it is no longer so much about influence and reputation as it is about survival and how we have to start changing the way we are doing things. Sharing knowledge and having discussions around solution-based approaches will empower people to act positively and be the change that is needed. We celebrate the sharing of knowledge on the Karoo Forever website and hope to see many more users visiting the platform, completing the IFP course, and sharing their solutions through the various resources.

The content on the website was made possible through contributions from several specialists whom you will meet through the webinars and other resources. We thank them all for generously sharing their expertise and passion in the interest of promoting sustainable land management in the magnificent drylands of the Karoo.

The Karoo Forever website is brought to you by the EWT’s Drylands Conservation Programme, which focuses on promoting sustainable land management in the Karoo.  The project is funded by the Global Environment Facility and managed by the United Nations Development Program in partnership with the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries and Department of Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development.