Juan’s World: Our Role in combatting Desertification

by jabulani

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On the 5th of June, we introduced our Environmental Manager, Juan Ferreira to you, with his vast knowledge on the field of environmental protection and planning we decided that we want to pick his brain a bit more on the subject and what better time than on World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought 2019. Below he explains more about Jabulani’s role and plans to prevent desertification.

Written by Juan,

At Jabulani Safari we align ourselves with the global goal of combating desertification through sustainable land management methods.

Knowing that arid and semi-arid regions are extremely susceptible to overexploitation that leads to desertification. We at Jabulani Safari have made it our goal to formulate and implement a management protocol to achieve land degradation neutrality.

The first step towards achieving our goal starts with compiling an Environmental Management Plan (EMP). The EMP forms the cornerstone of our operations on the Reserve. It provides the team with a working document to track and measure our progress. We understand all too well that working with the environment is such a fluid concept and we find ourselves constantly adapting and changing our techniques until we find the right solution.

Correctly identifying ecologically sensitive areas are of crucial importance and should be prioritized according to the severity and scale of not only the problem that needs solving but also the scale and time frame required to implement the solution. Solutions implemented should not only be effective at addressing the problem but also as ecologically sensitive and economically viable as possible.

Let’s discuss the above-using examples. One of Jabulani’s most important projects is the restoration of an old mango plantation. The lack of a basal grass layer in the above-mentioned area leaves the delicate soil open to many threats such as crust formation and accelerated soil erosion. This, in turn, leads to decreased carbon storage capacity and inevitably contributes to micro desertification.

To combat this we have started the rehabilitation process of the area. Ripping the compacted soil is a good start as it allows grass seedlings to easily penetrate the soil. After ripping the process of brush packing has started.

Brush packing involves the removing of small encroaching tree species and excess dead branches from adult trees and tightly packing it like a sheet over the soil. The dappled shade and freshly exposed soil creates the ideal microclimate for seed germination and facilitates the growth of a basal layer that will not only protect the soil but also increase the carbon storage capacity of the area and lower the relative temperature of the microhabitat. This relative temperature decrease is made possible by the grass (and trees) absorbing the sunlight during the day and slowly releasing it throughout the evening.

To further help the rehabilitation process along, grass seeds harvested from slashing activities elsewhere can be sowed in the area before brush packing takes place. This may speed up the process as grass seeds are immediate area and the success of the operations then, not only rely on factors such as wind,  rain, and animals to carry seeds into the area. There are many instances scattered all over the reserve where similar interventions are required.

This is one of many projects that we at Jabulani undertake in order to combat desertification in our capacity. Although our acts may not change the world, it may very well set off a chain of events that will inspire more landowners and managers to do the same. It is the collective acts of the many that may very well change the environment we live in.

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