GREEN ZONE

INI­TIA­TIVES SUCH AS THE WWF-SA GRASS­LANDS PROJECT AND MANY OTH­ERS AROUND THE COUN­TRY DIS­PLAY JUST HOW DEEPLY COM­MIT­TED TOY­OTA RE­MAINS TO THE EN­VI­RON­MENT AND ITS ON­GO­ING PRO­TEC­TION

Toyota Connect/Lexus Life - - CONTENTS -

The WWF-SA Grass­lands Project shows Toy­ota’s eco-com­mit­ment

SA is renowned for its nat­u­ral di­ver­sity. The coun­try boasts forests, deserts, moun­tains and bushveld, but one of the least pro­tected, yet most eco­log­i­cally sen­si­tive and bio­di­verse re­gions is the grass­lands. In 2008 the World Wide Fund (WWF) launched what’s now known as the WWF-SA Grass­lands Project with the aim of pro­tect­ing more than

500 000ha of pris­tine Mpumalanga, Free State, East­ern Cape and Kwazu­lunatal (KZN) grass­lands.

This re­gion is home to both rare and en­demic plant and an­i­mal species, as well as be­ing the catch­ment area for three ma­jor river sys­tems: the Vaal, Thukela and Pon­gola. The ex­panse un­der pro­tec­tion has now grown to over 200 000ha and in­cludes over 4 000 land-own­ers of farms, nat­u­ral re­serves and com­mu­nal or land re­form prop­er­ties, pos­i­tively af­fect­ing mil­lions of down­stream wa­ter users and di­rectly ben­e­fit­ing those who’ve for­mally com­mit­ted to stew­ard­ship of their land for con­ser­va­tion. The sus­tain­abil­ity of this eco­log­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant project has been made pos­si­ble by on­go­ing fi­nan­cial sup­port from Toy­ota SA Mo­tors (TSAM).

Through its con­tri­bu­tion, TSAM has en­sured the day-to-day run­ning of the pro­gramme and cov­ers the salaries of two staff mem­bers – the Pro­gramme Co-or­di­na­tor and the Bio­di­ver­sity Co-or­di­na­tor – as well as other op­er­a­tional costs which in­clude fleet man­age­ment, fuel costs and ve­hi­cle re­pairs.

The project’s work not only con­trib­utes to the sus­tain­abil­ity and suc­cess of lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties and their en­vi­ron­ments, but is of na­tional im­por­tance, since its pos­i­tive im­pact is felt along the en­tire length of the three river sys­tems. The pro­gramme has a three-fold agenda. It fo­cuses on com­mu­ni­ties and land-own­ers by en­sur­ing they’re sup­ported and given the tools needed to man­age their land in an eco­log­i­cally sen­si­tive man­ner, while still ben­e­fit­ing eco­nom­i­cally.

The pro­gramme then maps eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties that put the re­gion at risk and may im­pact fu­ture food, en­ergy and wa­ter se­cu­rity. Fi­nally, it works to im­ple­ment a con­ser­va­tion model for the key river catch­ment sources.

The past fi­nan­cial year has seen a great deal of progress across the pro­gramme’s key ob­jec­tives, many of which wouldn’t have been pos­si­ble with­out Toy­ota’s sup­port. The high­lights have pre­dom­i­nantly fo­cused on en­sur­ing the en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion of the area, but also in­clude lob­by­ing and con­sult­ing on min­ing, and help­ing com­mu­ni­ties fight fire risks.

THE PROJECT’S WORK NOT ONLY CON­TRIB­UTES TO THE SUS­TAIN­ABIL­ITY AND SUC­CESS OF LO­CAL COM­MU­NI­TIES AND THEIR EN­VI­RON­MENTS, BUT IS OF NA­TIONAL IM­POR­TANCE.

HIGH­LIGHTS OF THE YEAR:

• A fo­cus on deed en­dorse­ment of 70 000ha of land will re­sult in the in-per­pe­tu­ity pro­tec­tion of these ar­eas for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

• Five ti­tle deeds have been signed off by the Mpumalanga or KZN MEC, with a fur­ther 22 to be signed in the near fu­ture. This builds on the ex­ist­ing 130 000ha of grass­lands al­ready se­cured by the pro­gramme. • The near-fi­nal­i­sa­tion of the

40 000ha Elands­berg Pro­tected En­vi­ron­ment dec­la­ra­tion.

• Progress, al­beit slow, on the Ver­samel­berge Pro­tected En­vi­ron­ment gazetting that will pro­tect 16 000ha of pri­or­ity grass­land habi­tat through part­ner­ships in the land­scape.

• The Mgun­deni com­mu­nity up­grad­ing its pro­tected area stew­ard­ship sta­tus from a bio­di­ver­sity agree­ment to a pro­tected en­vi­ron­ment.

• The Thek­wani com­mu­nity hav­ing signed a bio­di­ver­sity agree­ment with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife through WWF-SA fa­cil­i­ta­tion.

• Grass­land con­di­tion as­sess­ments on more than 40 com­mu­nity and com­mer­cial bio­di­ver­sity sites in Mpumalanga and KZN.

• Lob­by­ing and con­sul­ta­tion re­gard­ing

pro­posed coal min­ing in the area. • The de­vel­op­ment of fire man­age­ment pro­grammes with the Nd­lam­lenze and Mgun­deni com­mu­ni­ties. Co-fund­ing will see the sup­ply of equip­ment and train­ing for these com­mu­ni­ties, while Toy­ota fund­ing has con­trib­uted to the ini­tial screen­ing and set-up of the process. The im­por­tance of pro­tect­ing richly bio­di­verse and sen­si­tive en­vi­ron­ments like SA’S grass­lands is key to en­sur­ing the sus­tain­abil­ity of the ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties and farm­ers op­er­at­ing in those ar­eas. It also plays a vi­tal role in pro­tect­ing pre­cious wa­ter re­sources for the ben­e­fit of the en­tire coun­try.

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