Carbon Negative Footprint.

Boplaas is one of South Africa’s leaders in the implementation of sustainable solutions to tackle the climate change issue and reduce environmental damage. This project lies close to the hearts of the Nel family; thirty years ago Carel stated:  “that it is only a question of time before people will be paid to plant trees.”

Negative Carbon Footprint means that the amount of carbon Boplaas produce through different activities gets all “trapped” by the succulents that grow on the 2223ha of land that Boplaas own around Calitzdorp at Daniels Kraal and Kleinberg. The Boplaas land even “trap” additional carbon that other people’s activities produce. The 2223ha of land is used for conservation and is left alone for the succulent thickets to grow on. In a 150km radius around Calitzdorp there are more plant species then in the hole of Europe.

Portulecarie afra, locally known as spekboom, is one of the many succulents that are found around Calitzdorp and is one of the most efficient plants that sequestrated carbon. According to Mills study done in South Africa the lost of carbon as a result of degradation in the succulent thicket was 4t/ha/yr.

The carbon storage was measured in different segments. The carbon storage was divided into soil, aboveground biomass and root carbon. The soil samples were taken at different depths under the Portulecarie afra canopy and were analyzed by complete combustion using a Eurovector Euro EA Elemental Analyzer. Roots were extracted from the same samples by wet sieving and used for determining bulk density. The dry:wet ratios were calculated using Skowno (2003) to determining the aboveground biomass and litter, collected from below the Portulecarie afra plants, carbon storage.

In cooperation with Cape Nature, Dr Analise and Jan Vlok, determined the carbon sequestration on the land Boplaas owns. With GIS (Geographical integrated system) the latest satellite photos of the conservation area was taken and categorized into different plant growth areas. The two areas we were mostly interested in were the valley thicket and the arid thicket. Both in which were found on the ground that Boplaas owns. The Spekboom (Portulecarie afra) is a bonded in the valley thicket area, while it is only shattered in the arid thicket areas.

According to the study done by A. J. Mills and R. M. Cowing, the valley thicket sequestrate 4 tons of carbon per hectare per year and the arid thicket 2 tons of carbon per hectare per year. Using this numbers and the hectares provided from the GIS, Dr Analise and Jan Vlok calculated moderately, 5520t/C/yr for the conservation land Boplaas own. This calculation is done only for the spekboom, excluding the other thickets growing between the spekbome.

Calculation of the Carbon Sequestration:
Total = 2223 ha
1005 ha = Valley Thicket
750 ha = Arid Thicket

4t/ha/yr for Valley Thicket
2t/ha/yr for Arid Thicket

1005(4) + 750(2) = 5520t/C/year

5520t/C/yr for Spekboom (Portulecarie afra) only.

Research from: Mills, A.J., and Cowling, R.M. 2006 Rate of Carbon Sequestration at Two Thicket Restoration Sites in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Restoration Ecology 14 (1):38-49

November 5th, 2010. Written by