South Africa Grassland Management Project
Project Snapshot

Sequestering soil carbon and restoring degraded grasslands

Sequestering carbon in South African grasslands using innovative grazing, land and fire management techniques.


Drakensburg Range, South Africa

Project type

Agriculture Forestry and Other Land Use

Project size

90,000 Hectares

Annual Projected Emissions Reductions

246,773 tCO2-e

The Challenge

Across the Drakensburg regional area, a history of uncontrolled fire and overgrazing of perennial grassland pastures has greatly degraded perennial vegetation cover and reduced the production of forage for livestock.

With the phase out of incentives from older managed forest investment schemes, rising production costs, difficult market conditions and attractive sale values, land is transitioning from carbon-sequestering plantations into to fallow or agricultural land.

Coupled with increasing average temperatures and declining rainfall, these vulnerable grassland ecosystems are experiencing erosion and loss of soil and soil organic carbon, reduced water retention and filtration capacity, and reduced agricultural productivity (for herds managed on these properties).

These degraded ecosystems are becoming much less climate-resilient, are more vulnerable to drought and take longer to recover from these events. This consequently impacts ongoing agricultural productivity, economic growth and food security for communities that depend on the food and fibre generated in these regions

Invasive brambles stifle native grasslands and prevent healthy regrowth.

Herds of picky Impala overgraze new grass shoots preventing even regrowth of various perennial grasses.

Our solution

Over the next 30 years, we aim to sequester carbon emissions in the landscape by implementing a range of sustainable grazing and fire management practices.

To reach sufficient scale this project takes an aggregated approach, initially working with multiple landholders across 90,000 hectares of grassland in South Africa Drakensburg region, supported by the Endangered Wildlife Trust and Conservation Outcomes as an implementation partner.

Specific grassland management activities will include:

  • planned grazing and controlled burning activities that increase the rest and rotation on pastures above baseline (business-as-usual) practices;
  • Fencing off smaller pastures with more livestock rotations, which allow the recovery of perennial grasses, which foster greater carbon inputs, higher retention of carbon as lignin and cellulose, and greater belowground production.

This project also results in a range of environmental, social and economic co-benefits that contribute to the achievement of seven Sustainable Development Goals within South Africa. These positive impacts include restoration and conservation of some of South Africa’s most biodiverse grassland ecosystems; protection of vulnerable and endangered native flora and fauna species; supporting farmer livelihoods, land stewardship and agricultural productivity; and supporting South Africa’s increased climate resilience.

A technical expert checks grassland and soil health on a farm in South Africa's Kwa-Zulu Natal province.

Farm workers cut away invasive brambles and spray weeds.

Key Outcomes

Agriculture is critical to Africa's growth and development and active management of these grasslands will improve ecosystem services, restore agricultural productivity, diversify income for farmers, and create more climate-resilience across the landscape.

Climate Action

This project currently sequesters 246,773 tonnes of greenhouse gasses each year, across 90,000 hectares of perennial grasslands in eastern region of South Africa.

Environmental Impacts

This project helps to create resilient ecosystems with increased drought resilience, improved erosion control, reduced fire risk and better control of invasive species. The project also conserves and restores critical grassland biodiversity, and helps protect several endangered and vulnerable species including the Blue Crane, Grey Crowned Crane, Wattled Crane, Oribi, Sungazer Lizard, Blue Swallow, Golden Mole, Riverina Rabbit and Karoo Tortoise.

Community & Economic Development

This project supports agricultural livelihoods, and contributes to the health and wellbeing of rural communities in eastern South Africa. More specifically this project provides farmers and landholders with income diversification opportunities, increased productivity, local education and training, and supporting direct and indirect jobs in the region.

Farm ute driving across grassland hill

Farm ute driving across grassland hill


This project is spread across 90,000 hectares of agricultural and reserve land in the east South African provinces of KwaZulu Natal, Free State, Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape.

The historically stable and temperate climate associated with these grassland biomes has supported a strong agriculture-based economy in the region. In recent decades however, higher temperatures and lower rainfall have contributed to declining regional water resources and water retention in the soils. Combined with overgrazed agricultural landscapes and uncontrolled fires, these grassland areas have further degraded soil, meaning the ever-increasing drought seasons hit harder and recover slower.

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