In a significant move by the Herding Academy, which has transitioned to the Southern African Wildlife College (SAWC), regenerative land management practices and training are to get a real boost. This will ultimately help mitigate the impact of environmental degradation due to conventional land management and livestock practices and the effects of climate change.
With the complex nature of our ever-changing environment, rangelands make up approximately 40% of the world’s terrestrial surface and are mostly located in arid and semi-arid regions. In Africa, rangelands make up 50% of the surface area, supporting around 270 million pastoralists, but poor grazing and land practices have resulted in the degradation and denudation of vast portions of land. The African Union estimates that the incidence of extreme poverty ranges between 25 and 55% among African pastoralists. This collectively impacts landscapes, the environment, the economy, social structures as well as stability within the region.
There is thus a great need for holistic thinking and regenerative land management training to help obviate these risks. This has led to the amalgamation of the work being done by the Herding Academy and the SAWC, which will in future now be referred to as the SAWC Herding Academy.
“We believe this signifies a monumental step forward in the Herding Academy’s commitment to regenerative land management and conservation training across the SADC region. Geared towards addressing human/wildlife conflict and climate challenges through proper regenerative land management practices; the positive outcome on biodiversity, job creation, animal and other sustainable land management projects is immeasurable,” said co-founder of the Herding Academy, Johan Bouwer.
With this transition, the Academy will be giving wings to its pioneering work over the past seven years whilst also helping to further cement partnerships between the various role players. These include Peace Parks Foundation, the SA College for Tourism, Conservation International, Conservation SA, Herding for Health and Meat Naturally Africa as well the SADC Secretariat. These collaborative efforts will further enable the expansion of training capacity which will in turn impact the sector and the region significantly.
“There is no doubt that the concept and idea of regenerative farming practices is becoming mainstreamed and gaining traction, both as people look at better land practices and healthier options for themselves and the environment. In addition, soil carbon and positive bio-diversity potential is becoming attractive as a revenue stream. The SAWC, which has since its inception always been a needs-based training and skills development institution, is well placed to support the required training and we are very excited to take the Herding Academy on board, said SAWC CEO, Theresa Sowry.
“The courses offered by the Herding Academy and by the SAWC such as Holistic Regenerative Land Management, Professional Herding, Eco Ranger Training, Responsible Resource and Land Use already dovetail and once amalgamated will lead to an even stronger product and training delivery, she added.
Interestingly, and given this holistic approach to the training and professionalisation of herders, subject matter across the Eco Ranger courses include Ecology, Habitat Conservation, Animal Care and Husbandry, Life Skills, Land Management, Holistic Planned Grazing and Rangeland Restoration for example. The training is however adaptive and can also be adapted to suit the landscape and each group’s preferred outcome and need whilst also addressing social or cultural challenges.
With the amalgamation, the scaling up of training and holistic planned grazing models as a tool for rangeland restoration and community empowerment will be enabled through the following actions:
- The continuous improvement of a professional herders and trainers or eco ranger training suited to commercial and communal herders in the African context.
- Development of regenerative decision-making for team leaders
- Ongoing research, lesson sharing and communication regarding the effect of holistic planned grazing models in a variety of biological and socio-economic settings.
- The development of cost-effective mechanisms to train professional herders or eco rangers at scale using a “train-the-trainer” model.
- The implementation of market-based mechanisms to incentivise rangeland restoration through holistic grazing models at scale.
- Learning exchanges
- Fundraising in support of training