An outstanding investment into South Africa's natural beauty

The Kloof Conservancy is particularly focused on the Clermont community and M13 Adopt-a-Highway project

The Kloof Conservancy is particularly focused on the Clermont community and M13 Adopt-a-Highway project

The Kloof Conservancy is focused on promoting environmental awareness and on conserving areas of natural heritage for present and future generations. To support this goal, one that is critical for the ongoing natural heritage of the country, the National Lotteries Commission provided the Kloof Conservancy with a grant of R636 800 to support their work.

The Kloof Conservancy is based along the highway mist belt, approximately 30km outside of Durban. The area is one of intriguing natural beauty with a wealth of flora and fauna, magnificent views of Kloof Gorge and a variety of trails that allow people to enjoy their surroundings and the various areas of the conservancy. The area includes a gorge, streams, waterfalls, remarkable local wild and plant life and impressive biodiversity. It is one of only 35 biodiversity hotspots on the planet, making it a critical area to protect against environmental impact and damage.

A biodiversity hotspot was first defined as such by Norman Myers in 1988. To achieve recognition as a biodiversity hotspot, the region has to meet two clear criteria — it must contain at least 1 500 species of vascular plants as endemics and it has to have lost at least 70% of its original habitat. The Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany hotspot, of which Kloof Conservancy forms a part, unites four areas of endemism and it is the second-richest region in southern Africa for flora for its size.

Founded in 1993, the Kloof Conservancy is run by volunteers committed to environmental awareness protecting the natural heritage of South Africa. The conservancy focuses on a variety of aspects of conservation that include: habitat restoration, invasive alien plant eradication, sustainable living issues, environmental education, public participation, and outreach to previously disadvantaged communities as a part of expanding the conservancy’s green footprint. Kloof Conservancy upholds three values as part of its core ethos: proactive spirit, environmental integrity and shared knowledge.

The proactive spirit refers to the Kloof Conservancy’s passion for nature and community while environmental integrity upholds the conservancy’s commitment to protect the kloof’s indigenous flora and fauna. The third value outlines Kloof Conservancy’s focus on sharing knowledge with others so that everyone is empowered to value and protect the environment.

A unique proposition

The Kloof Conservancy is completely dedicated to protecting and nurturing the wellbeing of the natural kloof environment.. The conservancy runs numerous initiatives to support its ongoing commitment to the area and to uphold its core values.

The Aller River Pilot Project is one of many that stand out in the conservancy’s ongoing project list, as it is responsible for improving the health of the upper Aller catchment and surrounding communities. The Aller River Pilot Project is part of the “Take back our rivers” project initiated by the eThekwini Conservancies Forum with the goal of repairing the health of the rivers throughout the eThekwini Municipality.

The Aller River Pilot Project was designed by the eThekwini Conservancies Forum and implemented by the Kloof Conservancy. It kicked off in 2016 and entered into Phase 3 as of February 2018, thanks to the funding provided by the NLC. These funds have been earmarked to further develop and deepen the project, setting out to find sustainable local solutions and to encourage engagement from local communities. The work done here may potentially benefit communities around the world that face similar challenges.

In 2018, this project saw the Kloof Conservancy win the Mail & Guardian Greening the Future Award in the category of Community Conservation and Resilience.

This work is further supported by the efforts undertaken by the Kloof Conservancy to mitigate the impact of man on the environment. It is particularly focused on the Clermont community and the M13 Adopt-a-Highway project, a co-operative project between the public and the state. The M13 project is an inventive approach to supporting the conservancy’s goal of removing alien vegetation while simultaneously reducing litter and keeping the area clear of grass and debris.

To aid this project, the conservancy entered into an agreement with the department of transport that allowed them to sell advertising along the M13 highway. The funds generated by the advertising signboards then paid for a contractor to come and remove the alien vegetation, clear the litter and cut the grass on the verges. To further this goal, the Kloof Conservancy has also planted more than 600 trees and shrubs to support the rehabilitation of the road reserve and there has also been extensive landscaping at a number of off-ramps. The project has been such a success that other conservancies have followed suit, entering into similar agreements for other sections along the M13, and it won the Kloof Conservancy the trophy for best corporate project from KZN Ezemvelo Wildlife.

An area to remember

Alongside the M13 and Aller River projects, the Kloof Conservancy runs a variety of initiatives that are committed to protecting the biodiversity of the area. The Alien Busters project has been running since the conservancy began and it does just as its name suggests — it eradicates invasive alien plants. This work not only entails identifying and removing the plants, but also educating people as to which plants fall under this description so they don’t perpetuate their use.

The Back to Nature project was started in 2012 as a way of attracting younger members to the conservancy. It developed a variety of fun, environmental education events that blended educational content with entertaining activities. These events have included Butterfly Days with the Lepidopterists Society of Africa, Bird Days with Birdlife Port Natal, and Dangerous Creatures from Catchment to Sea with uShaka Marine World. On the technology frontier, the Kloof Conservancy adopted the Kloof Conservancy BioGuide Project in 2014, using a QR Code system to access information about flora and fauna. It was a groundbreaking initiative that allowed for unprecedented visitor access to insights and information about the local area. The project labelled 30 different species and features in both English and isiZulu.

These are just some of the projects undertaken by the Kloof Conservancy in its drive to protect, nurture and educate. It remains committed to ensuring that the local area is kept pristine for future generations while engaging with local communities and individuals to inspire in them a love of nature and the unique biodiversity of South Africa. The funding from the National Lotteries Commission has played a significant role in supporting the conservancy in achieving its goals, particularly on the Aller River Project, which is set to transform the area and its rivers.