The Project


Land Degradation in South Africa

South Africa is 1.2 million km² with a population of approximately 60 million.

Land use in South Africa is a major driver of land degradation, with many activities on the land leading to negative effects on ecosystem goods and services. 

Over 80% of the land surface is used for agriculture with six million households depending upon agriculture for their livelihoods and subsistence. Livestock herding is the dominant rural land use accounting for approximately 83% of all agricultural land. The remaining 17% is dedicated to crop production.

Conflicts over land use exist where areas of high biodiversity importance overlap with those with agricultural potential.

The degradation of South Africa’s ecosystems has had a negative effect upon ecosystem services and a loss of agricultural productivity.

These losses are felt disproportionately more by those communities whose livelihoods are dependent upon natural resources.

Local communities are highly vulnerable to the current and predicted effects of climate change, including frequent floods and droughts.

The effects of climate change are compounded by loss, fragmentation and degradation of natural habitats and ecosystems.

"Addressing land degradation is of strategic importance to both preserving ecosystem services and local communities’ dependent upon natural resources for their livelihoods."


Component I

Knowledge, skills, institutional capacities strengthened to support SLM and ecosystem rehabilitation programmes and increase resilience

Implement climate-smart rehabilitation & management across 67300 ha

1.1 Improved land-use and livestock/range management practices implemented in two critical riverine systems in the Karoo.

1.2 Ecologically-viable livestock farming, vegetative cover and range resources management practices adopted in the Eastern Cape.

1.3 Watershed management and SLM practices adopted by farmers in the Olifants River catchment.

1.4 A strategy for upscaling SLM practices within the Karoo, Eastern Cape and Olifants landscapes.

1.5 A long-term strategy for participatory monitoring and evaluation by stakeholders (including land users) of the effectiveness of SLM approaches in the Karoo, Eastern Cape and Olifants landscapes.

Component II

Devise and implement
financial and policy
mechanisms to support adoption of SLM


Promote rehabilitation of degraded land in the Eastern Cape through carbon sequestration and access to carbon markets

3.1 Government approved methodology developed for the generation of carbon credits through restoration of spekboomveld.

3.2 Carbon baseline sampling and assessments undertaken for 200hectares in the Baviaanskloof.

3.3 Project Design Documents for a Baviaanskloof Programme of Activities/Grouped Project prepared and verified.

3.4 1,000 hectares of degraded spekboomveld restored in the Baviaanskloof to deliver multiple ecosystem benefits, including reducing soil erosion, enhanced water infiltration and increased vegetation cover.

Project Partners

The project is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and managed by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in partnership with Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) and Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD).
Global Environment Facility
The GEF provides funding to assist developing countries in meeting the objectives of international environmental conventions. The conventions, for which the GEF serve as
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financial mechanism, provide broad strategic guidance to the GEF.

The GEF Council converts this broad guidance into operational criteria (guidelines) for GEF projects. The GEF work broadly covers six themes on 1) Biodiversity, 2) Chemicals & Waster, 3) Climate Change, 4) Forests, 5) International Waters and 6) Land Degradation.
UN Development Programme
UNDP supports countries in their efforts to successfully address diverse development challenges, framed around three broad settings which require different forms of support:
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Eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions; Accelerating structural transformations for sustainable development; and Building resilience to crises and shocks. These three development challenges often coexist within the same country, requiring tailored solutions that can adequately address specific deficits and barriers. Underpinning all three development challenges is a set of core development needs, including the need to strengthen gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, and to ensure the protection of human rights.
Department of Environment, Forestry & Fisheries (DEFF)

Department of Agriculture, Land Reform & Rural Development (DALRRD)
The vision of DEFF is to have a prosperous and equitable society living in harmony with our natural resources
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by providing leadership in environmental management, conservation and protection towards sustainability for the benefit of South Africans and the global community.

The vision of DLRRD is equitable access to land, integrated rural development, sustainable agriculture and food security for all. The mission is to ccelerate land reform, catalyse rural development and improve agricultural production to stimulate economic development and food security through: transformed land ownership patterns, agrarian reform, implementation of an effective land administration system, sustainable livelihoods, innovative sustainable agriculture, promotion of access to opportunities for youth, women and other vulnerable groups, integrated rural development.

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