Pachamama is restoring degraded and high-risk land, on the edge of the largest native forest in Southern Africa. Situated in a rural area on South Africa’s beautiful Garden Route, Pachamama was established after a 100-year wildfire event in 2019 that was exaggerated by industrial scale monoculture forestry plantations, and dense stands of invasive vegetation. This natural event resulted in an increased fire risk associated with increased area and density of invasive vegetation, declining biodiversity, and fragmentation of the native forest ecosystem – home to many endemic species of plant and animal, such as the Knysna Lourie, Knysna Dwarf Chameleon, and the last remaining forest dwelling Knysna Elephant. Pachamama seeks to explore a regenerative future, through the restoration of both inner and outer landscapes. This restoration community is a living learning centre, a healing and retreat space, a regenerative enterprise eco-system, a forest restoration and agroforestry project, that is researching innovative ecosystem restoration models, climate adaptation and mitigation strategies, regenerative enterprise and value chain development, with the goal of establishing self-funding enterprises that can drive holistic bio-regional restoration on scale through the natural resources that become available through the restoration process.
Pachamama is working towards holistic, systemic change, through the full restoration of this landscape, incorporating the social, economic, and cultural dimensions of the surrounding community. The community is made up of mixed ethnicities, and income groups, displaying many of the same complex social-economic challenges as the rest of South Africa, such as land rights and tenure, reconciliation post-apartheid, education, employment, vast income inequality, food insecurity, addiction, and other collective and ancestral trauma related factors, expressed on a micro scale with a total immediate population of under 200 people. Here, the theme of regenerative culture is explored, valuing diversity, and examining our paradigms of thought. This makes Pachamama a living learning centre that is creating a culture of continued growth and education. The community celebrates art, music and story as well as ritual and ceremony as expressions of culture. They honour the healing journey, and collectively hold a supportive space for inner restoration and the transformation of consciousness. Pachamama values community as a web of symbiotic relationships built through intentional interactions, and decisions are made together through a horizontal, multi-stakeholder participatory process. Pachamama continues to learn from nature, while nurturing water cycles, soil health and reforesting a degraded forest edge.
Pachamama is piloting productive agroforestry systems to support human needs. Since 2020 two hectares have been restored, with 4500 trees planted: 25 species of endemic and indigenous species and more than 40 varieties of fruit and nut. The community is incubating a regenerative enterprise ecosystem and developing a value chain built from the natural resources yielded through the ecosystem restoration process. This creates jobs and opportunities for the local community, while developing skills and capacity and contributing to the growth of a local, circular regenerative economy.
Restoration of livelihoods
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