CapeNature is one of the implementing partners of the GEF-5 PA Project. The objective of the project was to expand the protected area of lowlands fynbos and renosterveld within the Cape Floristic Region. The Cape Floral Region is one of three South African biodiversity hotspots and the aim of the project was to prevent the loss of irreplaceable biodiversity and to maintain ecosystem functions such as water security and climate change mitigations.
One of South Africa’s three biodiversity hotspots – the Cape Floral Region (Image supplied)
The Dassenberg Coastal Catchment Partnership (DCCP) geographic area comprises of public, private and communal land and is located in highly threatened, poorly conserved habitat along the West Coast just outside of the Cape Town Metropol. The Atlantis aquifer, which supplies high quality potable water to the City of Cape Town, is situated along the coast in the DCCP and provides People natural and cultural assets to people in surrounding communities. Of particular importance is the preservation of cultural identity, water security, nature-based livelihoods and economic opportunities. The DCCP area represents a place of scenic beauty and rich cultural heritage, whilst serving as a gateway to the West Coast wildflower route and to wild spaces for recreation on the outskirts of Cape Town.
CapeNature, together with the Table Mountain Fund (TMF), the City of Cape Town and other partners in the DCCP area, are committed to facilitate water security, climate change resilience and adaptation, socio-economic opportunities and conservation of the natural and cultural heritage of the area. The TMF Small Grant Facility is a vehicle to help unlock socio-economic opportunities while contributing to the objectives of the DCCP.
Screenshot of the TMF website with info about the DCCP Small Grants Facility
What is the DCCP Small Grant?
The DCCP Small Grants Facility is funded by the TMF and is designed to finance up to 21 projects, with the provision that projects result in social and environmental outcomes. The Small Grants Facility is administered by CapeNature with support from the City of Cape Town over a three-year period. 21 small grant opportunities, each amounting to approximately R 30 000.00, are available to communities and landowners or Land Managers of the DCCP. This includes the communities of Riverlands, Chatsworth, Atlantis, Mamre and Pella. The Small Grant Facility is advertised via a call for proposals annually and potential beneficiaries can apply by submitting a project proposal, which is reviewed by a committee. Once approved, CapeNature and the beneficiary enter into a contractual agreement. A project plan is devised between the project team and the beneficiary, and the fun begins!
The DCCP has the following goals and objectives:
- Water security
- Climate change resilience and adaptation
- Socio-economic development
- Conserving natural and cultural heritage of the area
One of the DCCP goals is the conservation of cultural heritage. Heritage experts assessing the historic buildings in Mamre (Image supplied).
Purpose of the DCCP Small Grants Programme:
Small grants are designed to head-start or augment small medium and micro enterprises (SMME) or emerging entrepreneurs. Some projects are aimed at engendering care for the environment amongst the youth, with a focus on terrestrial and marine environments, others are designed to help communities conserve cultural heritage, some aim to protect biodiversity through restoration and rehabilitation of natural communal spaces, others are aimed at recreation and adventure tourism. Overall, the hope is that with seed funding, foundations are laid for emerging entrepreneurs to grow and develop, whilst working towards caring for and conserving the special natural and cultural heritage of the area. Small Grant recipients receive mentorship and training together with demonstrated capacity building initiatives.
Application and selection process
For projects to be legible, proposals must align to the objectives of the DCCP and thematic areas, promote inclusivity and support the communities of the DCCP. Thematic areas include environmental awareness and education, terrestrial, marine and coastal heritage, cultural historic heritage, natural resource management, SMME development in the environmental sector, nature-based tourism and recreation.
The application process entailed the advertising of at least three calls for proposals over the implementation period via roadshows, e-mail, social media platforms and placing posters in strategic locations. More than 50 proposals were received during the second and third calls.
Poster for the second call for proposals shared via various platforms.
A committee, represented by the various partners and local authorities, reviewed the proposals using the following criteria:
- Alignment to DCCP objective and thematic areas.
- Socio-economic, ecotourism and community involvement opportunities.
- Locality for skills development projects and economic opportunities.
- Full time equivalent employment opportunities through natural resource management and clearing of invasive plant species.
- Current and future opportunities for recreation and adventure tourism. The DCCP is ideally located due to its proximity to Cape Town and established sites where adventure sport and recreation initiatives are successful, e.g. 4×4 and Sand Boarding in the Witzands Aquifer Nature Reserve.
- Community involvement and opportunities to enhance passion and understanding of the unique biodiversity and heritage (e.g. environmental education and youth camps).
- Opportunities for raising awareness and capacitating communities to mitigate fire risk through fire protection, planning and suppression, and management of invasive vegetation.
Progress to date:
Six projects which were funded in 2018 have now been successfully completed, while 16 are in different stages of implementation. Great progress has been made towards achieving the objectives. Projects are aimed at nature-based tourism, recreation and adventure sport; cultural heritage with a focus on Khoi indigenous knowledge preservation, Moravian and colonial heritage; marine focused environmental education and awareness; indigenous plant propagation; facilitating compliance for SMME’s working in invasive species management, ecosystem restoration, and fire awareness and protection.
Initiatives teaching about environmental awareness – Mamre Youth Forum project, teaching children of the community about conservation and food security. (Image supplied )
COVID-19 and associated lockdowns have impacted on the delivery and implementation of some projects although momentum is increasing after the easing of lockdown regulations. The TMF project team, comprising representatives from City of Cape Town and CapeNature, provide ongoing mentorship and support to beneficiaries, assisting projects towards successful implementation and completion.
Ricardo Adonis, Conservation Officer for the DCCP at CapeNature works directly with these beneficiaries. He guides and mentors them on planning, implementing, and reporting. Beneficiaries are not necessarily efficient in project management.
Ricardo Adonis, the Conservation Officer for the DCCP at CapeNature. (Image supplied)
“One of the issues we experienced with the last call of proposals is that people don’t have the necessary skills to go through the project on their own. I hold their hand right through the whole process,” explained Ricardo.
Currently, the DCCP is working with the project leaders of 15 projects. Projects under the TMF Small Grant Facility have a huge socio-economic impact. This has a compounding effect on staff as stipends have been worked into the project. These stipends are their only form of income.
The selected projects serve like a pedestal where the local communities are resting on. “The average size household in the DCCP communities is four people. If we are working with 10 project leaders it is affecting 40 people’s lives. This is priceless. The 15 projects benefitting through the TMF are making a huge impact,” said Ricardo.
The biggest challenge is to get people to understand the importance of accountability.
“We are dealing with very poor communities here. From the moment you receive money until you finish the project, you need to be accountable for every cent,” Ricardo explained. At the same time, one needs to convey that the project makes a difference in the lives of the people.
Khungeka Lindani (right) project leader for all projects and Comelitha Williams (left) from the Mamre Neighbourhood Watch (left) walking through an area where the Neighbourhood Watch members were busy with an alien vegetation clearing and clean-up project. (Image supplied)
The other challenge is to get people physically involved. Especially when it is voluntary work, one has to paint the project in a way that is attractive, so people participate and do so with enthusiasm. To overcome these challenges, “you must have somebody that is from the community who understands the dynamics of the community. It is imperative for this project,” added Ricardo.
Ricardo was born and bred in this community and can relate to the circumstances relevant to the project beneficiaries. He joined CapeNature in June 2020 and noted it was a critical issue to involve someone familiar with the challenges to improve the success of the projects.
Among the TMF Small Grants projects that stand out is the Chatsworth Community Outreach Group. They identified a need for training to achieve their goal of putting up a nursery. The Greenies, as they call themselves, received training on plant propagation at the Grootbos Foundation’s Green Futures College. They have come back equipped with tons of knowledge and can now spread the spirit of entrepreneurship and the green economy. They can further plan towards the development of a nursery where they hope to train people and sell indigenous plants. Their vision is to replant fynbos in Riverlands to combat the alien vegetation infestation. In the meantime, the Greenies environmental biodiversity group is teaching people about conservation and plants.
The Chatsworth Community Outreach Group (Greenies), receiving training at the Green Futures College of the Grootbos Foundation. (Image supplied)
Another project is the Mamre MTB Club. The club members had a dream of creating a mountain bike route to showcase the biodiversity in the area. They received professional training, which taught them to build MTB trails and equipped them with relevant knowledge. They took up negotiations with landowners in the area to get their permission for the trail to run through their properties. Part of trail is already developed and the group has formalised their business structure. The Mamre MTB Club is attracting good attention and grows daily. Their work creates awareness on the critically endangered fauna and flora in the area.
Members of the Mamre MTB club at the start of the trail. (Image supplied)
Trail builder Pieter van Wyk with the Mamre MTB Club members. (Image supplied)
Jodray Arendse, founder and CEO of Breathless Nomad had made great impressions with his business. He has partnered with the City of Cape Town (CoCT) to attract people to the Atlantis sand dunes. Since January 2020, Breathless Nomad is offering adventurous educational tours at the Witzands Aquifer Nature Reserve (Atlantis dunes) in collaboration with the DCCP. Most striking about Jodray is that he is training unemployed people and creating jobs in an area where the unemployment rate amongst young people is very high. His tours and the fun bumper ball experience on the stunning white dunes of the reserve also educates visitors about the fauna, flora and the aquifer.
Fun in a ball in the Atlantis dunes (Image supplied)
Jodray Arendse with a team of youngsters combining fun with education (Image supplied)
For more information contact Breathless Nomad on 073 008 6994 or email@example.com.