Sustainable Agriculture Programme
The purpose of this programme is to keep abreast of both risks and opportunities pertaining to agriculture in the Protected Environment. A number of risks threaten the agriculture of the area such as legislation changes, detrimental developments, land security threats, the global and national economy and external opinions and activists dictating how land should be managed. Apart from these external threats, a number of environmental threats remain a reality, such as climate change and disease. Water management is critical to the survival of the current agricultural practices and is a current management consideration that has become even more pressing due to some of the risks mentioned above.
Many of the landowners in the Protected Environment have agricultural businesses. The main land use practices in the area include stock and game farming, small-scale arable lands and ecotourism. The region is well known for its free-range meat and fibre industry and is known for its Karoo lamb and mutton products. As agriculture in the Protected Environment is already compatible with conservation of the area, the persistence of the current agriculture is paramount to the survival of the area’s biodiversity and ecosystem functioning.
As there are diverse agricultural management systems operating within the Protected Environment and it is impossible to prescribe a blanket approach to the management of agriculture. The focus is rather to promote a collective approach in terms of understanding and mitigating risks to the agricultural practices and to create an information sharing and learning opportunity amongst members of the Protected Environment regarding best practice and innovations that may benefit landowners and ultimately the environment the Protected Environment is trying to protect.
Just as there are many threats facing the agricultural practices within the Protected Environment, there are always new and innovative agricultural practices being developed to increase production or to align agriculture to the natural system functioning of the area. The Landowners Association aims to share these practices with its members to create opportunities for collaborative management which will improve system function.
A number of members are participating in the Responsible Wool and Mohair Standard which is an industry driven assurance programme. As part of the RWS/RMS, there is a land management module that addresses soil erosion. Members participating in this are assisted by the MZCPE and its management plan tool. which is an assurance programme aimed at guiding sustainable and ethical wool and mohair production. The standard addresses both animal and environmental wellfare. The numerous projects within the MZCPE assists members in the Lanscape Management Module of the standard by creating a monitoring system and guidleines on intervention methodologies to not only conserve the environment, but encourage higher production potential of the landscape.