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February 2020
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February AWARD Newsflash
 
A busy month for Legalameetse Nature Reserve and the new landowners
 
Two important activities were organised by AWARD with landowners of the Legalameetse Nature Reserve (LNR) during February. These landowners are made up of six claimant communities, of which only two have finalised land claims. After 14 years, the remaining four require resolution so that they can enter into co-management with LEDET. The first event, organised under the LNR Co-management project, is a collaborative effort between AWARD, Institute for Natural Resources (INR), the land claimants of the Leglalameetse Nature Reserve and LEDET. The second was conducted in partnership with the Legal Resources Centre (LRC).

Land claim areas inside Legalameetse Nature Reserve and surrounds
 
Bongani Khumalo from the INR facilitated the first event which focussed on the establishment of a business entity for the co-management of the reserve. In order for the communities to manage funds associated with activities in the reserve, they will need a legal business entity. The main purpose of the week was to explore institutional arrangements so that six claimant communities can benefit from the land through job creation, the government EPWP programmes, infrastructure and enterprise development in the reserve.  The communities have now settled on a legal entry that will be registered under the Companies Act with CIPC.
 

Bongani Khumalo from the INR explains the different business entities
that are available to the claimant communities
 
The second event at the Legalameetse Nature Reserve was conducted in collaboration with the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) on 27-28 February. The work symbolises potentially groundbreaking research regarding the institutional forms that claimant communities may adopt in order to co-manage land. The legal research indicates that communities do not have to be constituted as a Communal Property Associations (CPAs) in order to enter into co-management agreements. Through the work, the landowners (i.e. claimant communities) will adopt a Constitution that will facilitate their involvement in a park management plan, a development strategy and a community benefaction plan.  
 

Representatives of Legalameetse claimant communities, the rightful landowners of the reserve

 
David Mtshali from the LRC explains the basic components of a Constitution
to Legalameetse land claimants

 

Ecosystem goods and services of the Sand River catchment under the spotlight



On 25-26 February 2020 AWARD hosted an Ecosystem Services Assessment Workshop. The purpose of the event was develop a better collaborative understanding of the various ecosystem goods and services (such as water, firewood, timber, grazing, medicinal plants, carbon storage, conservation of biodiversity, etc.) provided by the Upper Sand Catchments and their importance to the residents living within the Sand catchment and beyond. The health and integrity of the various ecosystems were discussed and analysed to better understand the current and potential ecosystem services that are obtained from the landscape. This led to robust discussions as to the potential benefits of various scenarios. It was clear to participants that maintenance and restoration are vital for securing these services into the future.

The workshop allowed catchment residents to share their knowledge and experience of the catchment as well as strengthen the relationships amongst the various stakeholders involved in the restoration. The day was hosted by AWARD and facilitated by Myles Mander, an ecosystem services assessment specialist. The event was funded by USAID:RESILIM: O and the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF): Natural Resources Management (NRM).


Keen custodians: The Moletele Youth Project
 
It was a busy month for the Moletele Youth Project as they closed off the current cycle of activities that focused on spatial planning and biodiversity appreciation and enterprise development. The seven youth have been involved in activities over the past 12 months and now have their own identity and logo.
 

The MYP participants report back to the chairperson of the Moletele CPA and make arrangements
for a presentation to the Board members

 
A visit to the “Great One”: Moholoholo
 
One of the activities undertaken during a week of MYP activities was to understand the cultural significance of local landmark features as part of spatial literacy. Such a feature is the Moholoholo mountain. The MYP took a trip to the top and spent the rest of the day with December Ndhlovu, a local specialist, exploring the spiritual and cultural meaning of the mountain for local cultures.
 

December Ndhlovu (right) and the MYP facilitator William Mponwana discuss the
various features visible from the top of Mariepskop 
 
The youth were also tasked with developing a proof of concept for the research, development and marketing of a body lotion or medicinal product based on the local biodiversity. In this case, Eden was selected and the group did fieldwork establishing what special biodiversity was available for product development purposes.
 
 
After fieldwork, the group
presented their proof of concept explaining what plant product they would develop and its uses

 
Updates: Kadisi River seems to be drying up

The Olifants River displayed a few peak flows at the Mamba Weir along the Kruger Park boundary during the month of February due to good rain. The news for the Kadisi River, however, was not so good. The Kadisi, a tributary of the Blyde River, dried up during the month of February despite fairly good rains in the area. This suggests there might be irregular use of the river or over-abstraction somewhere upstream.


 

Comments on Water Use Licence Application in the Upper Blyde - a Class I catchment and Strategic Water Source Area

AWARD submitted comments regarding concerns regarding draft WULA report (current 83mr, to be known as the Theta project). Issues were raised regarding the geochemical assessment, modelling results and interpretation identified metal(loid)s, specifically arsenic, mercury, chromium and nickel as potential contaminants and the past history of the mine to deal with the pollution.

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