Student Feature 1st Quarter, 2019
Debra Magwada, Zimbabwe
Rejuvenate Umhlaba Land Restoration Company.
Rejuvenate! Umhlaba is a land restoration company that intends to establish a high value market for land restoration credits. This a market where buyers (degrading companies) meet sellers (land restorers) to buy recognition for supporting land restoration (the commodity) in exchange for the degradation they would be causing at their areas of operation.
Land restoration is a long term process which cannot definitively be defined as completed. It is a process where deliberate actions are taken to deter further degradation as well as to ensure that conditions are put in place for natural healing processes to occur until the system has become ecologically sustainable.
At least 319 million hectares of land are affected by land degradation annually in Africa while in Zimbabwe 91% of cropland and 76% of non-crop land in communal areas is degraded affecting more than 45% of the rural population in the country. Being largely an agricultural and mining economy, these two industries cause the largest degradation in the country at an annual cost of US$382 million. Restoration is therefore not just a conservation or social imperative, but also an economic imperative.
However, establishing a restoration market is a long term project that could take decades since it is dependent on many variables. However, in the short term, the company will work with regulatory authorities to develop a portfolio of successful land restoration projects that will help establish land restoration as a viable and profitable business venture. This will pave the way for increased participation of players in the industry and eventually legislation providing the framework for land restoration. Alternatively, the legislation could precede the market and cause the companies that degrade to participate in the market.
Noel Mbise, Tanzania
Conservation financing: Narrowing the financing gap through investments. A Case of the Pan-African Conservation Excellence Investment Fund (PACEIF)
Financing of conservation has for centuries mostly relied on public and philanthropic funding resulting in a wide discrepancy between available resources and estimated need (globally – $52 billion vs. $300 billion needed). Though investments in nature-based ventures are particularly challenging, PACEIF aims at determining the amounts and types of funds Africa needs and mobilising and investing about $250mn over a 15-year period from investors to establish a go-to conservation finance fund.The expected impact is to create predictable conditions and funding for conservation business & ecoventures and broaden financing opportunities/scope conservation-focused businesses.
Undergraduate Conservation Scholar
Jean Damascene, first year Conservation Scholar
Jean is an ardent bee enthusiast, and works with local beekeepers across Kigali, planting native flowers so that their bees feed on and increase their population and production of honey. His work is inspired by the fact that modern farming cultures like monoculture which create food deserts for bees, are contributing to the dramatic decline in bee populations, yet bees pollinate up to one-third of the food we eat everyday.