Ecology Programmes Jobs for Carbon

Jobs for Carbon is set in the Little Karoo, South Africa, where three global biodiversity hotspots meet: Fynbos, Succulent Karoo and Maputoland-Tongoland-Albany Thicket. The Albany Thicket biome – specifically targeted in this project – is the most recently recognized hotspot in Africa. Degradation of this biome – mainly due to overutilization – has transformed more than 800 000 hectares of dense thicket vegetation into an open desert-like landscape. This has undermined vital ecosystem services including inter alia soil erosion and flood control, water infiltration, biodiversity, carbon capture and storage, and nature-based tourism.

Loss of vegetation cover has depleted soils, reducing productivity and livestock yields with serious consequences for the agriculture-dominated rural economy, chronic unemployment and poverty.
Degraded thicket cannot recover by itself but can be successfully restored by dry-planting cuttings of the native tree Portulacaria afra – commonly known as Spekboom – back into the landscape. Doing so triggers the return of other plant species and recovery of biodiversity. As the re-established Spekboom plants grow and begin to restore the vegetation structure, other native shrubs and trees are able to establish and thicket recovers with time.

Spekboom is also exceptionally efficient at capturing and storing large amounts of carbon, in the above-ground plant material as well as in the soil. Aside from these obvious environmental gains, a primary benefit of actively restoring degraded thicket is job creation. The restoration procedure is highly labour intensive, requiring workers to
harvest stems from intact thicket, excavate holes and then plant the truncheons.

The Gouritz Cluster  Biosphere Reserve has large tracts of severely degraded thicket suitable for restoration.  Jobs for Carbon offers significant employment opportunities to the poorest
rural communities, while actively restoring  degraded natural systems.


Key features

Landscape  West Cape, where three global biodiversity hotspots meet: Fynbos, Succulent Karoo, Maputo-Albany Thicket
  Gouritz Biosphere Reserve: 50.000 square kilometres
One-year goal  50 hectares of Spekboom restored
  Baseline carbon measurement on 20+ plots
  Employment of 25 local youth
  Benefitting 140+ poor households