The Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve’s (GCBR’s) flagship project, Jobs for Carbon (J4C), is currently in its fifth year of implementation, and continues to develop in leaps and bounds in ecological and social landscapes.

The project has planted hundreds of hectares of spekboom (Portulacaria afra) in the Vanwyksdorp area. However, one of its greatest new successes has been the introduction of a new planting methodology. Although the traditional method of planting large spekboom cuttings (ca. 500 mm long) directly into the ground have been successful with a survival rates of around 70%, the project manager and team found a more effective way of ensuring the success and high growth rate of the plants. It involves using smaller seedlings that require less water than the larger cuttings used and may, therefore, be able to spread and grow at faster rates.

Along with using a new propogation method, the J4C team have also started a spekboom nursery entirely devoted to creating seedlings for replanting in the veld – a spekboom restoration nursery. This nursery is aimed at increasing the survival rates of spekboom cuttings in the field by training people to grow and propagate spekboom correctly. The teams have become master propagators, being able to produce tens of thousands of seedlings a week. At any one stage there was an excess of 20 000 seedlings to be found at the spekboom restoration nursery in Vanwyksdorp.

Despite spekoom being naturally slow-growing – as the newly planted cuttings need to put all of their energy into establishing root systems, rather than increasing aboveground biomass – the seedling viability in the field has thus far proven to be very successful, with one of the efforts involving the combination of the planting of seedlings and erosion control.

The teams continue to monitor and research the growth habits of the spekboom seedlings, always looking to improve upon their existing knowledge of the plant, which has come to support their community, and has become the unofficial mascot of the town of Vanwyksdorp. Both the restoration nursery and new planting method has proven to be great additions to the project.

A new and exciting phase has also started in the life of J4C. For the first time since its inception, the project is expanding in range and adding new teams. The town of Calitzdorp now has their very own J4C team consisting of locally unemployed people. In a wonderful demonstration of the progress and success that the project has made to date, existing J4C teams in Vanwyksdorp have trained the new Calitzdorp team.

The Calitzdorp team is already appearing to demonstrate the ethos that the J4C name has become synonymous with: hard working, quality, with a renewed upliftment of the community. The GCBR is incredibly proud of everyone who continue to make the J4C successful.


Photo: The Jobs for Carbon team getting ready to plant spekboom cuttings (Pic: Andre’ Britz).

For more information please contact Luami Zondagh on email: luamizondagh@gmail.com

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