avontuur katstertAvontuur is a 1,300ha property on the north-Bokkeveld plateau that was purchased by WWF in 2008 to conserve its unique biodiversity. Since then the property has been managed as a conservation property by EMG under the guidance of the non-profit Avontuur Sustainable Agriculture.

After being farmed for more than 250 years, the arable sections of the property and its highly specialised and diverse flora have been severely impacted by grazing and cultivation. Nevertheless, there remains a remarkable diversity of plant life. The latest count yielded 483 plant species, with at least two (possibly three) previously undescribed taxa recorded – one of which is known only from this property (Felicia sp.) Another plant, Aspalathus obliqua was rediscovered on site, after not having been seen for over 160 years, and is also known only from this site. At least 33 of the taxa recorded on the property are Red Listed as Species of Conservation Concern.

Since 2009 EMG has commissioned scientific research to establish baselines and implemented a Management Plan for the property. Soil erosion has been prevented, alien vegetation removed and fences repaired. The property has been rested since it was purchased, and active restoration of the vegetation and rehabilitation of the eroded areas has also been undertaken. Avontuur demonstrates how the ecological balance can be tipped back in the right direction in a degraded landscape, and the site is used for educational and training workshops for members of the local and wider communities.

Rural Development - Resources

Co-published (2015) by the UNCCD and Tudor Rose, Living Land includes a chapter on EMG's work with small-scale rooibos farmers in the Northern Cape.

The Sustainable Harvest of Wild Rooibos, (2007) Noel Oettle and Rhoda Malgas, EMG (2.1MB) -- ook in Afrikaans beskikbaar by EMG

Juweel van die Berge: Handleiding vir die organiese rooibosboer (2002) Oettle et.al., EMG

Amazing Grace – A mealie farmer’s story (2002), Illustrated by Carlos Amato, EMG & Biowatch, 2nd Ed.

Capitalising on local knowledge - Community knowledge exchange: A toolkit for the preparation, implementation and evaluation of community-to-community knowledge and learning exchanges (2002), Oettle & Koelle, Toolkit 1 - Methodological overview & case studies, Toolkit 2 - Guidelines for Implementation , World Bank

Everybody's cup of tea: Community Action and Rooibos tea (2001) Noel Oettle