Wilderness Foundation Africa orchestrated thicket restoration on 70 hectares of degraded land, known as Robert’s Haven, in the Baviaanskloof Mega-Reserve since 2004. Planting activities aimed to restore the degraded ecosystem while also creating employment within the nearby Cambria community. The goals of the project were thus highly relevant, both ecologically and socially. Spekboom (Portulacaria afra) is a dominant species of the natural vegetation of this area, i.e. Valley Thicket, and is an ecosystem engineer. Restoration at Robert’s Haven thus focussed on re-establishing the abundance and distribution of this species where it had been severely reduced by previous agricultural activities.
The natural species composition of thicket also comprises numerous tree species. Restoration efforts thus included the planting of multiple woody canopy plants. Various planting methods were used, with the aim to mimic the natural structure and composition of intact thicket vegetation. This demonstrated the project’s commitment to integrating ecological theory and research with restoration practise, and was a key factor contributing to the project’s potential to reach long-term ecosystem restoration goals.
Spec-Savers was the major funder of the project, through its Climate Eyes campaign. Through Spec-Savers’ assistance, the Wilderness Foundation Africa was able to plant an average of 4 000 trees per month.