From the 20th to the 21st of February 2013, the Land Reform and Biodiversity Stewardship Initiative (LRBSI) hosted a two day learning exchange at Lily Lodge in Port St Johns in the Eastern Cape.
The exchange was held in partnership between the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR), the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), and the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). The participants consisted of 87 individuals from all nine provinces in South Africa.
The theme of the learning exchange was Biodiversity Stewardship Unlocking the Rural Economy. The aims of the visit were to share knowledge and show case experiences across the provinces on successes and challenges from current and emerging land reform and biodiversity stewardship projects, to provide an opportunity for projects to learn lessons and adopt new ideas from other projects, to provide an update on the LRBSI, and to build and strengthen the Land Reform Biodiversity Stewardship Learning Network.
The overarching objective of the LRBSI is to stimulate socio-economic development in land reform projects that overlap with areas of critical biodiversity, in a manner that allows for the full use of both human and natural resource capacities, while preserving sufficient functioning of the ecosystem.
The SKEP partnership was also represented at the LRBSI, as Jan Johannes and Jennifer Cloete of Conservation South Africa’s (CSA’s) Biodiversity and Red Meat Stewardship Initiative (BRI) presented on BRI projects being implemented in Leliefontein and Steinkopf. Ralph van der Poll, biodiversity stewardship coordinator at the Northern Cape Department of Environment and Nature Conservation (DENC) provided a brief overview on all biodiversity stewardship projects in the Northern Cape Province.
The two day session was set in motion by Wiseman Sithuko, affiliated with Umngazana Trust, who welcomed all participants. Kamva Qwede, director of biodiversity mainstreaming at SANBI, facilitated the first day session which ended with a site visit to a Bee farming plant run by the Umngazana Trust. Participants were provided with insight of a honey production project which is currently being implemented at the nature reserve.
The LRBSI, through this learning exchange, was a great success as it allowed the participants to engage with progress being made in reaching biodiversity conservation and developmental imperatives.