By Amanda Botes, Durban, South Africa
One of the flagship climate change response projects on show by the city of Durban during COP17 is the Buffelsdraai Landfill Site Community Reforestation Project. This project has been selected by the United Nations as one of ten lighthouse projects in developing countries that demonstrates a commitment to helping the world to become more climate resilient but at the same time improve lives. This project is an initiative by eThekwini Municipality’s Durban Solid Waste, and Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department (EPCPD) as well as a local NPO, the Wildlands Conservation Trust.
The project involves the reforestation of the buffer zone of the Buffelsdraai landfill site and the improvement of community livelihoods in the area through a tree propagation programme. Indigenous trees are planted in the buffer zone to replace sugarcane fields and invasive alien plants, and grasslands and wetlands in the area are being rehabilitated. Since October 2008, 250 000 trees have been planted in the buffer zone contributing to the restoration of biodiversity in the area and providing a sink for carbon.
The project is an example of both a climate change mitigation and adaptation response intervention. The trees are all locally propagated by “Tree-preneurs” in the surrounding community. Wildlands Conservation Trust run an Indigenous Trees for Life Programme where community members are given training on how to collect seeds, propagate and transplant the plants at their homesteads. Once the trees reach a certain height they are bartered for items such as basic foods, school uniforms, building materials and bicycles. These trees are then planted in the buffer zone. 85% of the tree-preneurs that contribute to the Buffelsdraai reforestation project are women and 65% are youth. 500 tree-preneurs provide trees to the project. When mass planting needs to be done temporary jobs are created and community members are given cash for these services. Community members are also educated on the value of conservation and about looking after the environment for the future. The tree-preneurs are rewarded with visits to national parks after a certain number of trees are grown.
Senzo, a community member that has benefited from the tree-preneur programme acted out a poem in isiZulu about how his behaviour towards nature has changed since becoming part of the programme. He has developed a greater respect for nature and is proud that he is contributing to conservation.
The Buffelsdraai Landfill Site Community Reforestation Project began in 2008 as the city of Durban, and other host cities in South Africa, prepared to host a carbon neutral 2010 FIFA World CupTM. The buffer zone around the landfill site was selected for reforestation in order to offset some of the carbon emissions emitted from the event. The project was successful in mitigating some of the carbon emissions from the 2010 FIFA World Cup and through the Wildlands tree-preneur programme has increased the capacity of local communities to adapt to climate change. Reforestation has continued post the World Cup and the project serves as an innovative example of how the city of Durban is wrestling with the challenges posed by climate change and responding through mitigation and adaptation interventions.