A novel conservation exchange for increased climate resilience in the Northern Cape, South Africa

Publicado: 24 Septiembre 2021
Última edición: 24 Septiembre 2021
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Nieuwoudtville is primarily a sheep and tea farming area but is also the worlds ‘bulb’ capital, experiencing a seasonable tourism industry based on the spectacular annual wildflower display. Poor management of indigenous rangelands and climate change have made farming largely non-viable forcing farmers to diversify their income streams to remain financially viable.

Through our unique conservation exchange, we provide expertise and resources to build multi-purpose trails on farms in return for landowners signing commitments to join the Biodiversity Stewardship Programme (BSP) – a voluntary but legal process to declare private properties as part of the national protected area estate.

This obligation is underpinned by management plans that result in improved range management and include activities such as correct stocking rates, habitat rest, erosion control and alien plant removal which all lead to improved resilience. In this way we demonstrate that conservation can have tangible benefits to farmers.


África Oriente y África del Sur
Scale of implementation
Actores locales
Adaptación al cambio climático
Especies exóticas invasoras
Financiación sostenible
Fragmentación del hábitat y degradación
Gestión de tierras
Medios de vida sostenibles
Servicios ecosistémicos
Lluvia errática
Degradación de tierras y bosques
Pérdida de la biodiversidad
Usos conflictivos / impactos acumulativos
Pérdida de ecosistemas
Especies invasoras
Falta de oportunidades de ingresos alternativos
Falta de capacidad técnica
Desempleo / pobreza
Sustainable development goals
ODS 8 - Trabajo decente y crecimiento económico
ODS 13 - Acción por el clima
ODS 15 - Vida de ecosistemas terrestres
Aichi targets
Meta 1: Aumento de la sensibilization sobre la biodiversidad
Meta 5: Pérdida de hábitat reducida a la mitad o reducida
Meta 7: Agricultura, acuicultura y silvicultura
Meta 9: Especies exóticas invasoras prevenidas y controladas
Meta 10: Ecosistemas vulnerables al cambio
Meta 15: Restauración de ecosistemas y resiliencia
Meta 17: Estrategias y planes de acción para la biodiversidad
Marco de Sendai
Meta 3: Reducir las pérdidas económicas directas por desastre en relación al PIB para 2030
Business engagement approach
Indirecto a través de los consumidores


Nieuwoudtville, Northern Cape, South Africa
Mostrar en “Planeta protegido”


The challenge is to achieve multiple outcomes with one simple, but effective solution. The challenges in this area include: a changing climate that renders traditional farming practices unsustainable, lack of job opportunities and a very short tourism season. For farmers to adopt income diversification strategies, they need access to a proven model, sound management plans, and support to implement the solution. We have proposed a conservation-tourism-farming exchange model but any solution that is based on the environment requires the environment itself to be protected. For this we need strategies to protect biodiversity, the unique landscape and enhance resilience. This strategy also speaks to lengthening the tourism season and length of visitor stay.

Poor access to higher education limits the ability of community members to benefit from solutions. However, we’ve enabled participation through the creation of spin-off business can be created such as guiding, slackpacking, bike maintenance etc.


The famers and farmworkers of Papkuilsfontein, community members of Nieuwoudtville trained as guides, the community of Nieuwoudtville in respect of the economic multiplier effect of increased tourism. Tourists who can access new nature experiences.

¿ Cómo interactúan los building blocks en la solución?

The partnership creates a foundation of trust, mutual understanding, clarity on roles and responsibilities, and well-defined expectations and deliverables. This is essential as it creates peace of mind for the stakeholders to engage and proceed with the Biodiversity Stewardship Framework where legal documents have to be signed and commitments have to be made in respect of management plans and annual plans of operation. The willingness to commit to the framework means that conservation gains are going to be contractually secured and that the EWT can activate the Incentive, in this case providing funding and expertise to develop trails.  Once operational, the trails will yield immediate financial results for the farmer and benefits to the ecotourist. The incentive demonstrates to parties that the partnership is worthwhile, works well, and that promises have been delivered upon. This reinforces the partnership which improves the likelihood of implementation of the framework and the overall sustainability of the project. It also helps generate interest from other farmers wanting to establish similar operations, thus leading to a larger landscape-orientated conservation gain.


Environmental: The project was piloted on the farm Papkuilsfontein, a magnificent 7,000 ha farm whose conservation status is in the process of being elevated to that of Protected Environment; the second highest category within South Africa’s protected area hierarchy.  A management plan has been completed and addresses farm management practices. This will ultimately lead to better conservation management of the farm, reduced habitat degradation and improved climate change resilience.

Social:  The trails constructed to date have attracted more visitors to the farm to experience its incredible biodiversity.  We are currently training two local guides, who will graduate towards the end of 2021 in order to lead tours and enhance visitor experiences.

Economic:  More visitors visiting the farm to use the trails means that the economic impact is not only greater but that it is also spread out over the entire year. This means improved job security for workers that were previously employed over only the limited flower tourist season. Increased tourism also has a multiplier effect on the economy on the town in general, which is important in this fairly remote area that experiences high rates of unemployment and offers few job opportunities. The farmer is able to vary his farming practices as overall income is more diversified and less prone to climatic risks associated with only farming sheep.



In 2017, the EWT initiated sustainable land management work under the GEF 5-funded “Securing multiple ecosystem benefits through Sustainable Land Management (SLM) in the productive but degraded landscapes of South Africa” (the Karoo node, arid western interior of South Africa).

From the onset we departed from traditional approaches whereby project sites were selected based on land degradation, instead using ‘willingness to collaborate’ as the deciding factor in selecting partners. Using this approach, we identified the Van Wyk family in Nieuwoudtville and their 7,000 ha farm called Papkuilsfontein, as a suitable site to pilot our innovative work.

Their openness and desire for sustainability were immediately obvious. We developed a meaningful partnership and signed agreements to solidify the project. We discussed a number of ideas for a SLM project, including the idea of a trails network to diversity income, which immediately appealed to the Van Wyk family.

With additional funds from the UNDP and Rand Merchant Bank, our staff member in the area, JP le Roux began constructing trails in early 2020. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic caused some delays but, nevertheless over 100 km of trails have been completed and are fully operational.

Even before the trails on Papkuilsfontein were completed, we saw them used by visitors – runners and mountain bikers. Despite travel restrictions due to the pandemic, the first year of operation has already generated economic benefits for the farm and community. It has been so successful that adjacent landowners have approached the EWT to participate in this conservation exchange programme. The impact to date has been astounding and even under the most challenging eco-tourism restrictions as a result of covid, the trails have illustrated their sustainability potential.

Selecting the correct partner for land management is critical. In the van Wyk family we found people prepared to commit their own resources and determination not only to make the trails component work, but also to implement actions that are required for better protection of the biodiversity on their farm.  

These conservation champions have helped us promote ideas and actions amongst other farmers in their community by demonstrating that conservation actions are ultimately in the hands of landowners and that these can yield benefits for all stakeholders.  That is the power of this concept.

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Claire Patterson-Abrolat Endangered Wildlife Trust

Other contributors

Endangered Wildlife Trust