Focussing on sustainable land management in Victoria West

Bonnie Schumann, EWT’s Drylands Conservation Programme, bonnies@ewt.org.za 

A group of emerging farmers from the Victoria West and Hutchinson area took part in an Integrated Farm Planning and Management training course held in Victoria West in October. The course was presented by the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, Environmental Affairs, Land Reform and Rural Development and the Grootfontein Agricultural Institute. This was the third time the team has collaborated to present this course to farmers over the last two years: first in Loxton, then Prieska, and now in Victoria West.

The course aims to promote sustainable land management by building capacity amongst farmers, Agricultural Advisors and conservationists. It is vital that farmers are supported in their role as the custodians of the rich biodiversity found on South Africa’s farmlands. These areas fall outside formally protected areas but remain critical to ensuring the health and functioning of ecosystems across landscapes.

Altogether 12 farmers completed the course. The course focuses on a holistic approach to farm planning and the principles of sustainable land management. Considering the predicted impacts of climate variation, we must start changing how we are doing things to build environmental and community resilience to extreme climatic events, such as the current drought. Sedrick Visser, Agricultural Advisor (Northern Cape), took the lead in presenting this course. Visser is passionate about training farmers and has taken the lead in presenting the last two courses after he attended the first one held in Loxton as a participant. Sharing knowledge and having discussions around solution-based approaches will empower people to act positively and be the change that is needed. Courses like these enable farmers to improve their farming practices, protect natural resources and create sustainable futures.

Staff from the EWT’s African Crane Conservation Programme joined the farmers on the course and underwent training to capacitate them to present the course to communities in KwaZulu-Natal early next year. The content of the course is currently being adapted to make it relevant to the grassland biome.

The training course is also available, for free, online at the www.karooforever.org.za website, created as a knowledge-sharing platform for sustainable land management. The content on the Karoo for Ever website was made possible by several specialists sharing knowledge in the form of webinars and written information. 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 course was made possible with funding from 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 and the National Lotteries.

For more information on the course contact:

Bonnie Schumann

Email: bonnies@ewt.org.za

Cell: 072 122 4232

or visit the website at karooforever.org.za