The Karoo Corridor Project

An exciting, large scale conservation initiative has been given the go ahead! The land stretching from the Mountain Zebra to the Camdeboo National Parks (Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve rests between these) will now be protected and preserved for future generations.

In a positive start to 2018, the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) has given the official thumbs up to the proposed management plan for a mammoth Karoo Corridor project that has been in the planning pipeline since 2012. This initiative, officially named the Mountain Zebra-Camdeboo Protected Environment (MZCPE) – nicknamed the ‘Karoo Corridor’ project for short – is located in the Great Karoo region of South Africa’s Eastern Cape, which will see approximately 286 343 hectares of both private and public land (roughly the size of the country of Luxembourg) protected and preserved for generations to come. The Protected Environment was formally declared on the 1st of April 2016 and the management plan was approved by the Minister of Environmental Affairs in August 2017.

The Karoo Corridor project incorporates the area between the region’s two national parks, namely the Mountain Zebra- and the Camdeboo National Parks (Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve is located between these), along with private land in between. The Protected Environment is located in a transitional area between four biomes: Grassland, Nama Karoo, Thicket and Savanna. All of the major vegetation types are currently very poorly conserved elsewhere in South Africa. Being a transition area between biomes allows for an interesting mix of flora and fauna, as well as important ecological and landscape processes. Climate change, detrimental development, mining, inappropriate historical management of herbivores, and the risk of fire present the biggest threats to the protected environment’s vital attributes.

The mission of this ground-breaking joint initiative, which was established by South African National Parks in partnership with 65 private landowners, is essentially to maintain the current landscape in terms of its scenic, biodiversity and landscape value through collective action by the private landowners and to legally protect the area from detrimental developments. In the official approval of the management plan the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr. Edna Molewa, stated it her “pleasure to inform (the MZCPE) that the requirements have been met”, thereby authorizing the implementation of the proposed plan.

“We are very pleased to see this exciting project come to fruition”, says Richard Slater, Managing Director at Mount Camdeboo and Vice Chairman of the MZCPE Landowners Association. “The intention within this initiative is to create a protected environment of good and ethical land management according to a code. Satellite imagery shows that existing land usage in terms of protecting the current status of land is actually quite good. The purpose is to conserve our biodiversity, within which exists a different matrix of land usage – whether managing wildlife or agricultural stock – with conservation at the core.” Bronwyn Botha, the Buffer Zone Coordinator from SANParks coordinating the Protected Environment, adds “The reason we have been able to make this a reality is that land use in the area is already very compatible to conservation and the realisation that to conserve ecosystems, one cannot be operating in isolation, but needs to work together to conserve the systems that make this area viable. This initiative has only been a success due to the willingness of the private landowners using their passion for the Karoo to stand together and protect it – the MZCPE vision is Conservation through Collaboration”.

Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve has played a pivotal role in the Karoo Corridor initiative, being the first property to sign into the Protected Environment in 2012. Since the reserve’s inception in 1995, when the late Logie Buchanan purchased the 14 000 ha Mount Pleasant farm, the family’s long-term conservation vision included developing the property for conservation and eco-tourism, with the view to expanding this further into the Karoo region. Now in its 10th year of welcoming guests to the reserve, the approval of the proposed Karoo Corridor initiative could not have come at a better time.

Says Slater, “With this combined vision being realized, it will see hundreds of thousands of hectares of this spectacular and diverse environment rich in flora and fauna being protected and preserved, which will be enjoyed by future generations.”

Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve lies just to the east of the town of Graaff-Reinet, in the heart of the malaria free Eastern Cape’s Great Karoo area. Accommodating only 28 guests in 3 luxurious manor houses and 2 sumptuous safari tents on 14 000 hectares, Mount Camdeboo continues to ensure sensitive and sustainable utilisation of natural resources as a foundation for eco-tourism and wildlife conservation.

Visit www.mzcpe.co.za
View the full MZCPE Management Plan

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