Situated in a world biodiversity hotspot in the Cape Floristic Region, the Langkloof is South Africa’s apple growing region, and is also home to several indigenous Honeybush species. Apple farming is particularly sensitive to climate change and Honeybush is currently under threat from unsustainable harvesting and plant poaching.
The Langkloof is risk-prone, with regular droughts, floods and fire making life difficult for those who live in the area. This coupled with the loss of wetlands that act as a natural water buffer, and the invasion of alien tree species, has altered the catchment, affecting the water supply of everyone downstream. Port Elizabeth, one of the largest cities in the Eastern Cape province in South Africa, is facing regular water crises.
Grounded is working with Living Lands and Commonland to develop and implement a holistic Landscape Business Plan using Commonlands’ Four Returns model. One of the ideas is to cultivate and sustainably harvest Honeybush in the area. Honeybush Tea is a healthy and tasty tea that has become increasingly popular across the globe over the last decade. This led to overharvesting and put many Honeybush varieties under threat. Sustainable cultivation will take pressure off the wild stocks and support the natural rehabilitation of the area. The project aims to bring balance back to the Langkloof and increase the area’s natural biodiversity.
We are making great strides so far and are now working with several farmers to trial Honeybush cultivation, and investigate the benefits for restoration of degraded land. In addition, we are working with our partners to investigate the potential benefits that a Water Fund could bring to the area. We hope to channel funds from water users downstream into a catchment rehabilitation programme that is built around sustainable agriculture.