Tswalu Kalahari Rewilding Project

Project Description

The Tswalu Kalahari Rewilding Project, developed in partnership between Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, Rewild Capital and  Oppenheimer Generations Research and Conservation, is dedicated to increasing carbon soil sequestration and reducing emissions through a combination of reducing grazing pressure and converting to renewable energy sources. The ambitious project is based in the Northern Cape province of South Africa, within the scenic Tswalu Kalahari Reserve (TKR), which is known for its sandy plains, dunes, and the majestic Korannenberg Mountains. The philosophy underlying TKR management is to ‘leave the world in a better place than we found it’, with an active focus on rewilding degraded land to improve ecosystem functioning, promoting biodiversity conservation and improving socio-economic opportunities for local communities.

In keeping with the Credible Carbon® Standard’s commitment to poverty alleviation and decarbonisation, The Tswalu Kalahari Rewilding Project uses 50% of its carbon revenue to expand its welfare and poverty alleviation initiatives.

Key Interventions

The project involves two primary interventions aimed at restoring ecosystem functioning and combating climate change. All three interventions have required significant upfront investment and go beyond existing regulatory requirements in South Africa:

This intervention aims to improve soil health and sequester carbon by reducing grazing pressure. This was done by incorporating former cattle farms into the reserve and rewilding them, as well as reducing the overall stocking rate of wildlife across the reserve. Modelled relationships between grazing intensity and grass productivity revealed that lowering grazing pressure across the landscape would result in greater soil carbon sequestration. Simultaneously, by lowering the number of wildlife and livestock large stock units, the project reduces methane emissions from enteric fermentation.

The installation of solar photovoltaic panels reduces reliance on coal-intensive grid electricity. Other energy-saving initiatives are in place and will be expanded in the future.

Total Impact

Between January 2020 and December 2022 when the fist audit was completed, these three interventions reduced 34 471 tCO2e.

Community and Environmental Benefits

The Tswalu Kalahari Rewilding Project is more than just a carbon removals and emission reduction initiative. In keeping with the Credible Carbon® Standard’s commitment to poverty alleviation and decarbonisation, The project uses 50% of its carbon revenue to expand its welfare and poverty alleviation initiatives. 

All employees and their families receive free accommodation inclusive of electricity and water; free use of the community clinic and access to doctor consultations. Tswalu Kalahari Reserve (TKR) also contributes to both a medical fund and a pension fund and provides free enrollment to Montessori Early Development School for Children. The community clinic serves the surrounding communities in the region too and is fully funded by TKR. Since 2019, total TKR expenditure on community benefit projects has been R7.9 million, equating to an average annual cost of R2.63 million. Carbon revenue will be used to help expand these welfare and poverty alleviation expenditures up by an average of 10% per year. TKR currently has 189 employees, enabled by its ecotourism offering. This is a significantly higher permanent job density than counterfactual cattle farming operations.

This project supports the rewilding of degraded lands, promoting biodiversity and improving ecosystem functionality. Rewilding TKR has been a major conservation success with several biodiversity surveys revealing the significant improvement of biodiversity on the property, including: 70 dung beetle species, 75 mammal species, 7 endemic plant species and 24 protected plant species, 6 threatened or near threatened carnivore species and 5 ecosystem types. The funds from carbon credits will be reinvested into the reserve for continued rewilding efforts and community development.

Contribution to SDG goals

SDG 1SDG 1: TKR contributes to community housing, health and financial well-being, and education
SDG 5: 41% of TKR’s are female, which is higher than the average of 24% for the agricultural sector in the Northern Cape (StatSA Agricultural Census 2017)
SDG 13SDG 13: TKR is removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through soil carbon sequestration as well as reducing emissions from animal enteric fermentation and converting to renewable energy sources and energy efficiency
SDG 15SDG 15: TKR invests significantly in biodiversity conservation and protection through rewilding, improving ecosystem condition, conducting anti-poaching operations and conducting applied research projects on species and ecosystem functioning

Monitoring and Verification

Rewild Capital employs advanced remote sensing technology to transparently measure ecosystem metrics over time. Additionally, Rewild Capital established a permanent network of 59 soil carbon mointoring plots, aligned to existing vegetation mointoring plots, to measure realized sequestration gains and contribute to ongoing research on the relationship between rewilding and climate change mitigation. 

Get Involved

Support the Tswalu Kalahari Rewilding Project by purchasing carbon credits and contribute to the ongoing efforts to restore and protect this unique and valuable landscape. Your involvement will help ensure a sustainable future for the Tswalu Kalahari Reserve and its surrounding communities.

Project Idea Note

A Project Idea Note (PIN) was drawn up to formalise the project scope with regards to carbon credits. 

Audits

Project Auditor – phase 1: Professor Brett Cohen – Thinka

Key Methodologies

Project Timeframe: 2020-2041 subject to audits every three years

Total Audited Credits: 34 471
Total Credits Sold: 0
34 471 Credits available
1 Carbon Credit = 1 Tonne CO2 Offset