The Suid Bokkeveld Community Resilience Project (2023-2025)
Through the Preserving Local Culture and Building Social Cohesion to Improve Community Resilience to Climate Change in the Suid Bokkeveld project, funded by the National Lotteries Commission (NLC), Indigo works with Suid Bokkeveld community members to build social cohesion and tap into indigenous knowledge, while at the same time working together to address the challenges that climate change presents. This project has taken an innovative approach to building social cohesion in the community by capturing and mapping the rich heritage of indigenous knowledge and culture captured in indigenous stories along the established Rooibos Heritage Route, from Nieuwoudtville and the Suid Bokkeveld.
Part of this process will include mapping the farms where the stories are told using GIS tools and including these stories on a digital map accessible by community members, tourists, and researchers. This storytelling heritage will be captured in book format and shared with the local community through a series of local community cultural and drama events.
Quarterly climate change preparedness workshops will be conducted with the wider Suid Bokkeveld community using participatory workshop processes and regional climate forecast data. This will assist communities to contextualize and support water monitoring and planning on a seasonal basis for their water usage and small-scale farming activities.
Another activity includes a Women’s participatory ‘Learning Journey’ on water testing and monitoring. Indigo would like to support rural women in conducting testing on the quantity and quality of their household drinking water. One water monitoring and quality testing training will be conducted at the implementation of this project and will include mapping water sources, using participatory video with community youth and photographs to document the process.
Our final project activity is called the Youth “Eco Fellow” and climate change program where 10-15 eligible learners from Grades 7 – 12 will form part of a program of weekly sessions hosted at Indigo’s conference hall where learners will participate in environmental education activities, as well as being assisted with assigned school homework and activities.
Environmental education topics will include an introduction to climate change, impacts, and responses through video screening, presentations, and practical exercises and discussions. Indigo would like to thank the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) for this fantastic opportunity.
Hosting Drynet & working towards Land Degradation Neutrality
Indigo is proud to host the Drynet Coordinator, a role it assumed in November 2022. As Secretariat to the network, Indigo provides support to the Board and the membership. Drynet is a self-funded network that shares information, develops common positions of civil society organisations on issues relating to sustainable livelihoods and land use in the drylands and engages in the international discourse via the UNCCD the UNFCCC and other MEAs.
Indigo is looking forward to contributing to the implementation of the project “Strengthening the Role of Civil Society in Achieving Land Degradation Neutrality”, which has received preliminary approval from the GEF and is due to be implemented in partnership between IUCN and Drynet. The goal of Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) is to conserve or improve land-based natural resources. The project will enable CSOs to expand their understanding of LDN and improve the impact of actions to enhance LDN.
LDN is not only consistent with Drynet’s values and priorities but is also aligned with Indigo’s biodiversity conservation & sustainable resource management pillar.
More information can be found at http://www.thegef.org/projects-operations/projects/10993.
Blomfontein Eco-tourism Project
This project focuses on the developing the capacities of members of the local community to operate eco-tourism enterprises, and on the development of eco-tourism infrastructure on the Blomfontein farm. The Blomfontein farm is largely a private nature reserve with interspersed pockets of small-scale rooibos tea farming, held in trust by the Three Fountains Trust of the Heiveld Cooperative.
The project has enabled members of the community to enhance their livelihoods, either through offering their eco-tourism services to visitors or through their employment at an eco-tourism enterprise to be established on Blomfontein. The Eco-tourism facility on the Blomfontein farm has empowered local entrepreneurs to assist visitors to experience and learn about the unique environment in which Heiveld rooibos is produced and the culture that it is rooted in, and to gain a greater appreciation for the uniquely sustainable and high-quality products of the Co-operative. This project is supported by the Lemonaid ChariTea Foundation.
Adaptive Capacity and Experiential Learning in the Bokkeveld
There is an existing small eco-tourism venture in the Bokkeveld, the Rietjieshuis Eco Lodge, which was established in 2001 by local women on the farm Melkkraal and offers tourists traditional and/or local accommodation and cuisine in a remote setting. This has become a popular tourist location that is frequented by both international and national travellers, but has been limited by the number of available beds and other essential facilities. To address these community priorities and promote sustainable development based on the local heritage, Indigo developed a series of project activities that build on work previously funded by the National Lotteries Commission, as well as new aspects to address community needs. The current project is also funded by the National Lotteries Commission.
The main focus areas of this project were to increase awareness and responsible citizenship regarding the Bokkeveld’s natural and cultural heritage and support eco-tourism opportunities; to support the local community in skills and capacity development and to support climate change adaptation strategies and knowledge sharing regarding sustainable farming in arid regions.
Organic Product and Certification Support
Indigo has been supporting the Heiveld and Wupperthal tea producers to comply with organic certification. This included advice and participatory mapping of all the rooibos tea lands for the farmers.
Wild Olive Training Centre
Indigo helped to open the doors of the Wild Olive training, which offers training and learning activities for young and mature learners in Nieuwoudtville. Activities include a range of training courses, interactive field trips and an annual local conference.
Eco Fellow Programme
The Eco Fellowship programme was launched in January 2014. It offered 8 Eco Fellows the opportunity to engage in interactive learning activities throughout the school year. Monthly training modules are offered to explore special plants, the use of GPS and GIS, communication skills and other topics. Every Wednesday, the Eco Fellows gathered in the Indigo workshop space and had the opportunity to work on specific school projects using computers, accessing the internet with mentoring support from Indigo staff. This project was supported by the Hans Hoheisen Foundation.
Summer and Winter School in Nieuwoudtville
For more than a decade Indigo facilitated one-week long summer and winter schools in the first week of the long school holidays. These activities allowed learners to explore a range of different activities – all exploring how to engage with nature, biodiversity and conservation.
The Summer and Winter School were supported by the Hantam National Botanical Garden, the Environmental Monitoring Group and Avontuur Sustainable Agriculture.
Monitoring of Rare Species
Indigo has engaged with farmers and scientists to monitor various threatened and rare plants in the Nieuwoudtville area in order to conserve the unique local biodiversity.
Indigo also convenes the Nieuwoudtville Biodiversity Support Group – a local stakeholder group wanting to protect local biodiversity.
Indigo has worked in close partnership with SANBI and the new Hantam National Botanical Garden – situated just 3 km South of Nieuwoudtville.
Demographic Plant Monitoring in Nieuwoudtville
For five years Indigo conducted phenological monitoring of two threatened plant species in the Nieuwoudtville area: Euryops virgatus and Bulbinella latifolia var doleritica once per year in the flowering season (September). The monitoring included measurements of identified Euyops plants, photographs and fixed point photography. This project was implemented in collaboration with the Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers (CREW) and was supported by SANBI.
Indigo housed the Nieuwoudtville CREW group and organised local events such as Plant Monitoring Day, the Nieuwoudtville Summer and Winter School and biodiversity monitoring activities in collaboration with SANBI / CREW.
Sustainable Harvesting of Wild Rooibos
Indigo has worked closely with small scale rooibos tea farmers to explore ways of sustainable harvesting of Wild Rooibos. We have compiled this information as a manual available in English and Afrikaans.
Indigo has been involved in mapping different ecotypes of Aspalathus linearis (Rooibos) in the Cedarberg and Bokkeveld area. Further research has explored the ecology and its threatened plants in the ecosystems associated with Wild Rooibos.
Wupperthal Small Grant Project
Indigo has worked in partnership with the Environmental Monitoring Group and the Wupperthal community to find collaborative ways to curb land erosion and degradation in innovative ways.
Management of Alien Grasses
Alien invasive grasses are increasingly threatening the rare and special plants. In the Nieuwoudtville Wild Flower Reserve Indigo has undertaken trials to establish best management for wild oat infested Dolerite Renosterveld.
This project was funded by CEPF and is implemented with support of Simon Todd (UCT) and Eugene Marinus (SANBI).