March 1, 2020
A few years ago I was in a small car park in Prince Albert, a deliciously quaint village in the Karoo region of South Africa. I noticed that the car park was surrounded by a huge hedge of spekboom and decided to snap off a little cutting to take back to London.
Spekboom is one of the best carbon munching plants in the world and supposedly, hectare for hectare, just as effective at removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than the Amazon rainforest. This succulent used to grow in abundance in the Karoo over an area the size of Cyprus.
With the assistance of the South African government, a group of passionate people is now aiming to re-wild a vast area with spekboom thicket. Plants take ten years fully to mature and need moisture in their early stages of growth, so it will take time.
Elephants, black rhinos and kudus love eating this plant, and top restaurants in Cape Town use it in salads. It has lots of vitamin C.
Samara, a Karoo safari lodge I especially love, has a planting programme in which guests can get involved. Sarah and Mark Tompkins started the lodge in 1997 with the vision of restoring an area of 70,000 acres to its former natural glory after years of intensive livestock farming had exhausted it.
A century ago this area witnessed an animal migratory spectacle to rival the Serengeti. Slowly but surely with the help of guests their dreams are being realised.
They have a special reduction for a five-night stay when you can see how conservation activities are working. The scenery here, in part reminiscent of the vast savannah of East Africa, is incredible. The animals are pretty abundant too.
Many big players in finance institutions as well as some world leaders have grasped the importance of natural climate solutions in mitigating climate change. The miracle spekboom is one little part of the story.
Meanwhile, my spekboom cuttings have transmogrified into six healthy small bushes. If you would like a cutting, do visit me at The Old Aeroworks factory off the Edgware Road in Central London.
For further in depth reading click these links:
and for an innovative forest conservation project in Tanzania click here.
NB prices shown were current at the time of writing the newsletter and are not necessarily current now.
Please ask for an updated quote.
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