Restoring Rangelands in South Africa

TASC’s Grassland Restoration and Stewardship in South Africa Group Project (GRASS GP) is an initiative to regenerate grasslands and savannas through adaptive livestock and land management. Livestock farming in South Africa encompasses over 34 million hectares of land but is subject to extreme weather events, low production outputs, marginal markets and poor adaptive capacity. Conventional grazing management and intensive farming practices have depleted the soil, with 33% of South Africa’s grasslands already severely degraded.

The GRASS GP is designed so that multiple Project Activity Instances (PAIs) can be included. The first PAI focuses on the communal livestock farming sector in South Africa. TASC has expanded the GRASS GP to include a second PAI focusing on private sector farmers. GRASS is the first VM0042 project registered with Verra, globally.

Within the communal farming sector, the programme is designed to promote, scale up and incentivise the adoption of regenerative grazing techniques amongst South Africa’s communal farmers. Communal farmers own half of the country’s livestock but supply only 5% of the meat market. TASC has partnered with Meat Naturally Africa which offers rural farmers formal training on regenerative grazing techniques and rangeland restoration practices and provides small-scale farmers with the opportunity to reach new markets through facilitating mobile auctions and abattoirs. Applying the Herding for Health (H4H) methodology improves soil health and agricultural productivity. The project also includes fire management training and the provision of veterinary services to support herd health. Carbon credit revenue is shared with farmers via a community trust which also incentivises ongoing participation.

Within the private farming sector, the project aims to support livestock farmers in building resilience in their landscapes and businesses through the implementation of adaptive grazing practices informed by holistic land management principles.

Carbon finance is made available to farmers and/or farm managers to attend the Herding Academy Healing Hooves courses where they receive exclusive personal assistance in identifying their farm’s context-specific challenges and creating their own grazing plans. Ecological indicators are monitored annually to inform farmers of the current trends on their land – Ecological Outcome Verification (EOV) and Land to Market Certification is also provided through the project.

With improved management, the restoration of rangelands in South Africa on both communal and private lands can sequester a significant amount of carbon in the soil and contribute to sustainable, climate-resilient, and diversified farming systems.

The communal programme currently spans over 260 000 hectares of rangeland and is expected to expand to 1 million hectares. It is forecast to sequester or avoid over 380 000 tonnes of CO2e emissions each year. It is anticipated that the full duration of the programme will be 30 years over which period it is expected to mitigate over 14 million tonnes of CO2e. 40 000 hectares of private farmland are currently under management with a target of 1 million hectares under improved management by 2027, with an average of 860 000 tCO2e sequestered or reduced.