The Grasslands Programme coal mining component included in its approach an element aimed at securing voluntary stewardship sites in a high biodiversity value landscape threatened by mining. A project concept was developed in partnership with WWF for the Upper Pongola Stewardship project.
The Upper Phongola Stewardship project is targeting Protected Environment proclamation on 18 000ha in the grassland areas of KwaZulu-Natal. The use of Protected Environment regulations will efficiently reduce the impacts on globally important biodiversity (especially wetlands and their associated threatened species) and reduce habit loss associated with mining. To date, the Phase One of the project has resulted in the declaration of the 9 9244ha Pongola Bush Protected Environment, while the Phase Two (known as Elandsberg Protected Environment (of 34 818 ha) is well advanced with the intent to declare documentation having been submitted to the provincial MEC for Environment.