The story

Heavy rainfall in the Baviaanskloof means responding immediately and preparing properly to make every drop of moisture count. Through a coordinated effort after recent rains, the team on the ground hand-seeded 140ha natural veld.

Rain in the Baviaanskloof is inconsistent. Over the last 6 years, the Baviaanskloof landscape has experienced a lower than average rainfall (300mm) and prolonged periods of drought. This puts pressure on water reserves, taking a toll on farming activities and threatening the water catchment area of Port Elizabeth. When the long-awaited rain does eventually fall, it is usually as a heavy downpour, often washing away roads and eroding soil – further threatening an already degraded landscape.

Last week, 70mm of rainfall – almost a quarter of the yearly average rainfall – fell over the course of one weekend. Heavy rain like this means preparing properly; ponding techniques help collect moisture and soil erosion structures prevent the loss of well-earned fertile soil. Meanwhile, everything needs to be in place to best use the sudden rainstorm to revegetate degraded land. That means accumulating and storing the right kind of seed, as well as having a mobile and agile system to quickly coordinate the team across a large area.

After the recent rains, a team from the Baviaanskloof Hartland Bewarea and Living Lands dusted off equipment, jumped into their trucks and set off across the landscape. Within 24 hours, the team hand-seeded 70 hectares of natural veld with native seeds as well as planting an additional ten hectare plot for a dryland grass trial. Three days after the rainfall another 70 hectares of natural veld was seeded where initial erosion control work was already completed by the Gamtoos Irrigation Board, an implementation agency of the Department of Environmental Affairs, Forestries and Fisheries’s Natural Resource Management Programme.

This is a great example of how proper preparation and coordinated-action is required to make the most of inconsistent rains and achieve significant restoration results.

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A team from Baviaanskloof Hartland Bewarea and Living Lands hand-seed an area of 140ha

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Seeding such a large area requires mobile and well-organised coordination

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Scattering native seeds after heavy rains is an effective way to revegetate degraded land

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