Background of the Project
The non-profit organisation Dzomo La Mupo (http://www.thedzomolamupo.org) is working closely with its partner organisation the Vuvha Rivers and Mountains Environment Care Project situated in the village of Vuvha in the Soutpansberg Mountain Range to support the rehabilitation of the Mudzinga river and wetland through tree planting and the construction of a fence to protect the spring of the river. The Great Mudzinga River means a river which deafens the ears of its listeners and is one of the most important water sources which flows through the village of Vuvha. The river originates from both Lake Tshitamboni and Lake Vilimadi which flows to the north. It is a tributary of the Great Mutshedzi that also flows to the north into Nzhelele River and then proceeds into the Limpopo River which is a national river that joins the Indian Ocean. The mission of Dzomo La Mupo’s work is to protect and revive the broader natural environment in all its forms, especially indigenous forests, rivers and mountains against destructive and harmful practices.
The Mudzinga River is an important water source for rural communities for drinking water, washing clothes and supplying agricultural fields with water to grow their crops. Today the Great Mudzinga River is running dry due to a variety of natural and anthropogenic factors which have negatively impacted water quality, flow and the surrounding riverine habitats. The Soutpansberg Mountains has been greatly affected by periodic droughts which have increased in frequency and severity over the past three years due to climate change. Droughts and a lack of rainfall have negatively impacted water flow and supply in many of Venda’s rivers and manmade dams. The problem is further exacerbated by human activities such as the cutting down of indigenous trees for firewood, human induced veld fires which have enhanced soil erosion due to degradation of the surrounding forests and littering of the forest.The river is also threatened by people extracting sand and soil on the banks of the river which cause the formation of large dongas from soil erosion and destabilise the riverbanks.
Efforts to restore the Mudzinga River
In the past Dzomo La Mupo have undertaken replanting of 1000 indigenous trees alongside the banks of the Mudzinga river to restore water, store excessive emission gases such as carbon dioxide, secure habitats for wildlife and reduce the threats of soil erosion. Therefore, the funds will be used to further support this work. In July 2019, we visited the village of Vuvha to meet with the representatives of the community to plan activities for tree planting through 2019-2020. We visited over 7 nurseries that have been developed by women in the community who have worked with Dzomo La Mupo to grow indigenous trees from seeds that will be used to plant the trees for the project. Dzoma La Mupo has recently been granted funding from the United Nations Global Environment Facility to support this work, and will contribute payments for the trees, that will support local women in their endeavours.
Visiting the tree nurseries in August 2019
Since 2018, we have also been working with the South African Research Chair on Biodiversity and Change at the University of Venda, to develop a series of management plants to support the planting of indigenous trees with a wider aim to rehabilitate riverine forests and sacred forests on their lands (see the following blog https://natashaconstant.com/2019/08/02/cultural-mapping/). In 2018, we worked with a small group of elders and youth representatives from the villages of Vuvha to create a collective vision for the restoration of their land and forest environments using participatory maps. In 2018, we conducted participatory mapping exercises with representatives of the Vuvha territory. Participatory mapping is a process that engages with local people to create maps representing their indigenous and local knowledge of their traditional territories and natural resources. In the case, we wanted to explore how forests are used by local people, and to identify key priorities and visions for their land and forests. Through the creation of these maps, we develop dialogues with the community to reflect on social and environmental changes that have impacted the land, and to develop new visions for the management of indigenous forests into the future.
Mapping of the Vuvha territory
We are looking to raise ZAR30,000 that will be used to support our ongoing work to rehabilitate the Mudzinga River to promote the health of the river for the benefit of the Vuvha community through the following activities.
- Fencing of the source of the spring of the Mudzinga River to allow for its protection from human interference and to ensure the protection of planted tree saplings from livestock. The planting of indigenous trees and fencing of the wetland, will assist in rehabilitating the river to provide a clean water source and to enhance the biodiversity value of the local environment.
- Tree planting activities supported by community volunteers and indigenous trees that will be brought from women’s nurseries in Vuvha to support tree planting, whilst the money generated from the trees will support local livelihoods. We will also engage community leaders, community members and school groups as well as the local municipality and ward counsellor to mobilise community efforts to support this work.