Short description

Connecting communities and the environment to create sustainable futures


A study conducted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) predicts that over the next decade, the shift towards sustainable agriculture could result in an increase in global employment of up to 4%. Such a shift in South Africa could contribute to the decrease of the country’s 25% unemployment rate. With increased attention being paid to climate change, combining the needs for conserving the environment and creating jobs could result in a very impactful niche area for development initiatives in the country.


In 2004, two Trusts (Wildlands and Natal Conservation) merged to form the Wildlands Conservation Trust. The organisation has since grown from a team of two with a turnover of less than R1 million to a formidable environmental organisation that currently employs over 1000 people and raises an annual income of R80 million. This growth largely responds to the new funding opportunities in the Green Economy. The Green Fund set up by government supports climate and environmental development initiatives that are coupled with high impact economic environmental and social benefits. Wildlands work is aligned to this focus making them an ideal candidate for funding.

Wildland’s Community Ecosystem-Based Adaptation (CEBA) model aims to help poor and marginalised communities to restore and care for ecosystems leading to improved climate change adaptation and improved lives for the communities themselves. This is done through several interventions with the most prominent being Green-preneurship. Through this programme, individuals who would not normally be able to access economic activities are afforded such opportunities through a bartering system. Tree-preneurs, primarily unemployed women and youth, barter indigenous trees while waste-preneurs trade waste for a selection on livelihood support goods. These include food, clothes, education support, building material, water tanks, solar water heaters, solar powered lighting and bicycles. Top performing green-preneurs are able to join the Ubuntu Earth programme through which they can move on to other green jobs and entrepreneurial activities. The Wildlands team sees their model as an incubation process that allows beneficiaries to gain confidence and go on to secure employment.

Wildlands works mostly in KwaZulu-Natal with pilot initiatives in Mpumalanga, Gauteng and Western Cape. The organisation has plans to expand to the Eastern Cape, additional areas of KwaZulu Natal, Limpopo and the North West. The organisation’s flagship programme is the KZN Integrated Greening Programme (IGP) which is a public private partnership between Wildlands, a number of KZN government departments and corporates. The programme supports green-preneurship activities across the province.

The organisation also runs conservation programmes helping secure the conservation of rare and threatened species and facilitating the development of responsible eco-tourism related opportunities. Among its other initiatives are restoration (using trees from green-preneurs) and a rhino protection project.

What we like about this organisation

  • Through the organisation’s various initiatives it seeks to address the social issues of their beneficiaries in the short-term while also addressing environmental issues in the long-term. This socially conscious approach to environmental conservation has unlocked big opportunities for the organisation in the green economy space. The organisation’s bartering model is innovative and creates an opportunity for beneficiaries to meet their basic needs.
  • The organisation has a strong investment portfolio reassuring its reserves supply for core activities for more than two years and special projects for seven months.

What difference can your money make?

  • R10 000 covers  the barter cost of 1000 trees by providing the equivalent amount in groceries, building material and educational support
  • R250 000 will cover the barter cost of 25 000 trees or support a specialist team of five rhino monitors for a year
  • R750 000 could cover the barter cost of 75 000 trees of the cost of establishing a new project node

Volunteering opportunities

Wildlands welcomes any talents volunteers have on offer. Volunteers are encouraged to contact the organisation explaining their skills talents and abilities to see where they can assist the organisation.