SAB AND WWF-SA JOIN FORCES FOR SUSTAINABILITY
Tuesday, July 25th, 2017
A pilot project to clear alien vegetation around water catchment areas of the Outeniqua is paving the way for a sustainable future in the Western Cape – the home of hops farming in South Africa.
Alien vegetation requires more water to survive, thus sapping vital resources. The project seeks to clear many hundreds of hectares of this land, which experts suggest could unlock about a billion litres of water a year.
Hops is the plant that gives beer its flavour, and in South Africa, it can only be grown in a limited area – the flanks of the Outeniqua mountains outside George, which is often affected by harsh winters and alien plant invasions.
In line with SAB’s Cleaner World strategy, we recently partnered up with World Wildlife Fund South Africa (WWF-SA) and The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), to conduct a water-risk assessment of the area to see how we could come together to make a sizeable difference.
So far, the Outeniqua project has cleared about 700 hectares of alien vegetation over the past four years. Estimates suggest that between 700 000 and 1 400 000 cubic metres will be released every year going forward, as less water-hungry, indigenous vegetation is replanted in the area, unlocking approximately one billion litres of water.
This is a matter of urgency in today’s volatile climate conditions, and will assist in sustaining local areas and communities, including large parts of the Klein Karoo, for years to come.
Christine Colvin, Senior Manager of WWF-SA, added; “Maintenance of ecological infrastructure and our water source areas in particular will be critical for future water security.”
Following the clearing of the initial 700 hectares, a further 800 hectares is now earmarked for clearing. The project includes monitoring of water levels in farm boreholes, replanting of indigenous vegetation, as well as maximising economic opportunities from the cleared alien wood. Active restoration with the planting of indigenous trees has already happened on one of SAB’s hops farms.