How Huge Swaths of South Africa’s Eastern Cape Could be Transformed from Brown to Green

Since Addo Elephant National Park was opened in 1931, it’s been a tale of two biomes for the Eastern Cape. Outside of protected areas, overgrazing has created “a vast man-made desert” that’s resulted in carbon losses greater than 100 metric tons per hectare. A new pilot reforestation project could allow farmers to continue to graze livestock (or game), while also earning annual carbon credits to the tune of $20 per acre. Ecologist Anthony Mills is hellbent on turning back the clock, if successful, his mass planting project could capture 750 million metric tons of CO2. While research has led to spekboom – a fleshy shrub with purple stalks and leaves like bloated ticks – being championed as a “wonder plant” by marketers and eco-leaning yuppies in South Africa.


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