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A rehabilitation and conservation program funded by a neighboring wind farm has ensured the future of an exceptional ecosystem in South Africa’s Northern Cape.
The land area of 5,000 hectares to the east Springbok is located between two distinct ecoregions. It lies between the Succulent Karoo desert, which runs along the west coast of Southern Africa, and Nama Karoo shrublands on the central plateau.
Kangnas wind turbines look out over the Nama Karoo shrublands and the semi-arid desert at the Succulent Karoo west
It forms part of a transitional landscape, which features a mixture of rare vegetation – Namaqualand Klipkoppe Shrubland; Namaqualand Blomveld; Bushmanland Arid Grassland; and Platbakkies Succulent Shrubland – and which supports a richly diverse wildlife.
As part of an environmental commitment made by the Kangnas Wind Farm, Oranjefontein has been declared a protected area.
Although the development process was rigorous, it was able to ensure that the 61-turbine project would have minimal impact on local biodiversity. The Oranjefontein farmland was purchased as an offset provision.
The wind farm, which is part of the Greater Goegap Nature Reserve, will be contributing to its ongoing management costs under a long-term agreement with Department of Agriculture, Environmental Affairs & Land Reform.
Initial steps to restore the natural ecosystem include the removal of internal fencing, and the replacement with the rotational ‘camp system’ of livestock grazing.
A new Nature Reserve boundary will be established by improved perimeter fencing and an upgrade to irrigation systems.
The Greater Goegap’s popularity as a tourist attraction will help the Oranjefontein protected area. It covers 150 sqkm and is famous for its biodiversity. There are 600 plant species, 45 species of mammals, and 94 bird species. Every spring, a large number of people visit the ‘desert blossom’.
Mainstream’s Brenda Sidaki is the Plant Manager at Kangnas Wind Farm. She explained how the economic development program launched under the agreement has already provided employment for 12 general workers, eight field rangers, and six women to fill the new positions.
She stated that the agreement allowed for the conservation and enhancement of an environmental area.
It also provides educational resources and the creation of heritage and indigenous values. This creates a better quality of life and a greater sense of well-being for the residents of the region.
“We are proud of this collaboration programme, which delivers skills, training, employment, as well as funding for operational and maintenance costs. It also ensures the viability and direct contribution to the local, regional and national economies through tourism”- Brenda Sidaki is the Plant Manager at Kangnas Wind Farm.