Transitioning from carbon offset to optimised biodiversity: The Buffelsdraai Reforestation Project

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Errol Douwes

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EThekwini Municipality, (Durban, South Africa), embarked on a Community Reforestation project at its Buffelsdraai Landfill site in 2009. At that time, the intention was to offset ex-ante 42 000 tons CO2 equivalent over a 25-year period through tree planting. The project was catalysed through Durban’s hosting of several 2010 FIFA World Cup™ soccer matches and the opportunity to deliver a carbon neutral event. The project transitioned from early targets (set in 2009) that focussed on planting of easy-to-access, fast-growing local tree species, to a new focus on climate change adaptation and socio-economic development through optimising on-sight biodiversity. In 2015, a decision to increase floral species richness and diversity was initiated. This was achieved through targeted propagation and planting of selected species, following comparisons made with a reference site, namely Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve. Propagation of desired species was achieved through training community members to find and grow plants on the new ‘target list’. On-site propagation of some ‘difficult-to-grow’ species was also done. Active shaping of species richness and diversity targets helped ensure closer alignment between the newly restored forest and the reference ecosystem. The timing also allowed for successful introduction of understory plants, which have thrived under established trees that were planted early on. High on-site plant biodiversity is expected to bolster the diversity of faunal species, improve storm water attenuation and filtration, and reduce soil erosion. The propagation skills gained by local people ensure long-term business opportunity benefits and an appreciation for local biodiversity.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

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Society for Ecological Restoration