On the 29th August 2018 landowners from Namaqualand and Bushmanland in the Northern Cape were presented with conservation awards to recognise their significant contribution to the conservation of the Succulent Karoo. The Succulent Karoo is home to exceptional concentrations of endemic succulent plant species found nowhere else on earth.
Over the last three years Wilderness Foundation Africa funded by WWF-SA and the Leslie Hill Succulent Karoo Trust has been working in partnership with South African National Parks (SANParks) and the Northern Cape Department of Environment and Nature Conservation (DENC) to expand the Protected Area network surrounding Namaqua National Park and Goegap Nature Reserve.
The landowners drive to ensure that the spectacular biodiversity that they are custodians of remains intact for future generations has resulted in these gains for conservation. There is however an important understanding between agriculture and conservation in this remarkable place as it is put by one of the landowners “We don’t farm with sheep we farm with the veld” in other words when the veld is managed sustainably it benefits agriculture and conservation at the same time. The landowners and conservation organisations and NGO’s working in this landscape are striving towards creating this sustainable balance and earlier this year crafted the “Namaqualand Grazing Guidelines” together, based equally on the agricultural needs and historical farming practices in the area and the conservation and science brought to the table by many experts and leaders in the field of conservation. The product was a great success and will be applied in Phase Two of the Northern Cape Land Project which will be implemented over the next three years.
The Awards evening was attended by officials from DENC and SANParks who handed out the awards and expressed their appreciation to the landowners and their organisations support. Timm Hoffman the Leslie Hill Chair of Plant Conservation and Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences University of Cape Town - Plant Conservation Unit was the guest speaker and his love for the Succulent Karoo, its people and landscapes was evident in his talk. WWF-SA’s Land Programme also expressed their appreciation of the landowner’s contributions to conservation. Wilderness Foundation Africa and their partners look forward to the next conservation awards evening and the expanding partnership between conservation and agriculture over the next three years.