Environmental Services

NCC - Playing a leading role in growing the biodiversity economy

NCC - Playing a leading role in growing the biodiversity economy

NCC is playing a leading role in the development of the biodiversity economy in the Western Cape. This blog post provides an overview of our work in this area which includes: a) the drafting of two reports for the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (EADP) in 2016 with recommendations on how to support the growth of two sub-sectors of the biodiversity economy; b) the implementation of a three year project funded by the Table Mountain Fund (TMF) to develop a business model for emerging entrepreneurs to participate in the biomass value chain and c) our ongoing participation with other key role-players in forums and workshops aimed at developing the biomass value chain.
The motivation for our involvement in this space is to enable the more cost-effective clearing of invasive alien trees by using revenue derived from the sale of biomass to clear more hectares at a lower cost per person day. This aligns with our mission to conserve biodiversity, restore ecosystem functioning (especially in riparian areas), conserve water, reduce fire risk and to create work opportunities and employment in rural areas.

Background to the reports for the Deapartment EADP

The Western Cape Green Economy Strategy Framework aims to position the Western Cape as the lowest carbon province whilst optimising green economic opportunities and enhancing environmental performance. Towards fulfilling this, the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning’s (DEA&DP) Eco-Invest Project was launched in 2013/14 with Phase I aiming to  investigate priority ecosystems and the potential of obtaining private sector investment into biodiversity and ecosystems goods and services. Eco-Invest Phase II was conducted in the 2014/15 financial year and focussed on assessing the state of readiness of a number of identified priority naturebased economy supply chains in the Western Cape as well as seeking ways to advance investment into those sectors.

Phase III of the Eco-Invest Programme has started exploring the findings of the earlier phases to establish a Provincial Biodiversity Economy Strategy and a biodiversity economy programme which identifies the required actions to start growing the priority biodiversity economy value chains of which 'Value Added Industries from Alien Clearing Biomass' is one.

It is important that all role players work together in strategic alignment to achieve the benefits of job creation, rural economic growth and ecological restoration available through the growth potential of the biodiversity economy. The total IAP biomass in the Western Cape was estimated at 18.3 million tonnes, and this would have increased since 2011 since the general rate of IAP spread is estimated at 10% per annum, which far exceeds the current rate of clearing.

EADP Report CoverWhen combining the environmental, social and economic threats from invasive alien vegetation with the job creation potential from alien clearing activities in rural areas and the potential economic value of the biomass by-product in value added industries, one has the potential for a valuable new sub-sector in the biodiversity economy that can achieve significant positive long-term economic, social and environmental outcomes. In early 2016, NCC was awarded a tender to draft a report for the Provincial Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning with the aim of providing recommendations for a strategic programme of work that guides the role of Provincial Government in supporting and stimulating the growth of the Value Added Industries from Alien Clearing Biomass (VAI-ACB) sub-sector of the Biodiversity Economy.


Growing the biomass economy


Background to the Table Mountain Fund project

This projects aims to develop a sustainable business model for the chipping and sale of biomass from alien clearing initiatives on privately owned land.

TMF logoThe project is linked to an existing alien clearing project that NCC is implementing for WWF's Water Balance Programme in the Sonderend River and the project centres around the donation of a medium sized PTO driven chipper by the Danish Embassy to the WWF Water Balance project.  In order to capitalise on the donation of the chipper, the TMF funding allows the project team to procure the other resources required to implement the chipping operations in order to pilot and refine a sustainable business model centred on the provision of a chipping service and the sale of wood chips.



PTO Biomass Chipper

As project implementers for the Department of Environmental Affairs' Natural Resource Management (DEA:NRM) Programme we are strongly encouraged to develop ‘Value Added Industries’ that subsidise the costs of implementing alien clearing initiatives. 
This project is an opportunity to develop a replicable business model for micro-enterprises to derive and add value to the numerous DEA:NRM Programme alien clearing initiatives in the Western Cape. Previous work studies on this topic have reported wide cost variables and as a result it is not possible to cost alien biomass chipping project effectively based on the parameters reported.  It is for this reason that we are capturing new data through this project, which we aim to make available to other role players in the biomass sub-sector.



 NCC's other involvement in growing the 'biomass from aliens value chain'

 NCC is also participating in a number of forums and partnersing with a number of other key role-players in the biomass value chain to support the grow of value added industries from alien clearing biomass. This is an exciting space, with some big opportunities and some interesting challenges.  We'll continue to play our part in the hopes that success in this area will help to drive the eradication of unmanaged invasive alien trees in the Western Cape.


Enquiries relating to this blog post can be sent to:
Andrew Purnell




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