Living Lands, Grounded, the Baviaanskloof Devco, the Baviaanskloof Heartland Conservancy, the Langkloof Honeybush Co., and the Langkloof Honeybush Association



Active since



Baviaanskloof – Langkloof, South Africa

The area stretching from South Africa’s Baviaanskloof to Langkloof encompasses three important water catchments around the city of Port Elizabeth – water that makes up 70% of the city’s water supply and is incredibly important for the region’s food production. But decades of unsustainable land management, changing climate and invasive plants and trees has accelerated the impact of droughts and floods, both in the catchments and downstream in Port Elizabeth. In 2014, Commonland formed a comprehensive partnership with Grounded and Living Lands to explore restoration opportunities and identify business opportunities around large-scale landscape regeneration. Five years on, the economic, social and ecological returns that the 4 Returns framework has brought to the Baviaanskloof offer a restoration case study for others to follow.

Landscape regeneration doesn’t happen overnight – in fact, it takes a minimumof 20 years (or one generation) to restore struggling ecosystems. Yet since teaming up with Living Lands and Grounded five years ago, a lot has changed in the Baviaanskloof and Langkloof catchments. New businesses have been created, agricultural practices have changed for the better, traditional goat farming practices have become more sustainable and significant strides have been made in the restoration of degraded hillsides.

We’re committed to the landscape for 20 years to come. We don’t claim to have all the solutions, but we want to become part of the landscape and community to help make this wonderful place thrive for the next 200 years. Not only the landscape, but also its people.
Thelani Grant, landscape mobilizer, Living Lands

The list of activities underway in the region is long – from community and farmer engagement, to alien invasive clearing and the planting of indigenous crops, to alluvial fan restoration and sustainable harvesting of indigenous crops. Among the economic impulses, there is regenerative agriculture and the cultivation of crops both exotic and indigenous, as well as the processing, marketing and distribution of dried and distilled products. All of these positively contribute to a healthy ecosystem, not draining away its biodiversity and resources.

We must keep the faith in the project and in each other, and you will be amazed about what we can achieve.
Piet Kruger, farmer

In 2014, the partners committed to developing business cases that would facilitate landscape restoration using the 4 Returns framework. The first of these business cases, the Baviaanskloof Development Company, focuses on essential oils production as an additional income source for farmers in the area. Commonland is a shareholder in the company and continues to actively support and partner by developing new business cases and interventions, research and development and engaging and mobilizing farmers and community members.

In the coming years, the partners believe their activities will create some 500 jobs and indirectly benefit up to 1 million people in the region.


Photography by Living Lands & The Way Between

Giving people hope and a sense of purpose.
Social Capital
Bringing back jobs, business activity, education and security.
Natural Capital
Restoring biodiversity, soil, water quality and capturing carbon.
Financial Capital
Realizing long-term sustainable profit.

Current status

The goal is to reach 10,000 people by the end of 2020.


In 2018 we engaged and reached more than 2,000 people to our land regeneration initiatives either directly or through workshops, including 20 large-scale land owners and farmers. 

Current status

9 network partners, 47 full-time and 2 part-time jobs.


In the region farmer trainings and workshops are organized in collaboration with experts, public, private and non-profit organisations and community groups. More than 50 jobs have been created to-date in both the Baviaanskloof and the Langkloof.

Current status

Almost 10,000 hectares currently under improved management.



Together with farmers, 10,000 hectares in the Baviaanskloof (divided into 3 zones) are being ‘freed up’ in a phased approach. In the natural zone approximately 1,500 hectares are under direct rehabilitation and 130 hectares are under regenerative agriculture. In the coming years the objective is to reach 32,000 hectares.

Current status

Early signs of positive cost-benefit ratio for farmers.


The 4 returns company Baviaanskloof Devco produces regenerative aromatics and other crops. Within two years more than €1 million was raised across both landscapes, 19% of which were investments. Over €1.5 million in grant funding has been secured for future work in both landscapes. The farmers owned company continues to stimulate the farmer’s sense of ownership through open discussions on pricing and future profit-sharing mechanisms.


The 4 Returns holistic framework breaks down landscape restoration into 3 distinct landscape zones – natural, economic and combined.

Natural zone
Combined zone
Economic zone


Regenerating a landscape’s ecological foundation by restoring and protecting native vegetation, trees, and biodiversity.
Natural area in the Baviaanskloof

Natural area in the Baviaanskloof


From alien invasive clearing and alluvial fan restoration to the continuous engagement and mobilisation of farmers and community members. Energy breaks, brush packing, ponding and the planting of indigenous spekboom.


Restoring the topsoil and biodiversity, and delivering sustainable economic returns through regenerative agriculture, agroforestry and rotational grazing.
Large scale rehabilitation works on hillsides in the Baviaanskloof through the creation of extensive ponding systems on community owned farm Sewefontein.

Large scale rehabilitation works on hillsides in the Baviaanskloof through the creation of extensive ponding systems on community owned farm Sewefontein.


Supporting improved management of livestock and sustainable harvesting of indigenous crops. The continuous engagement and mobilisation of farmers and community members.


To deliver sustainable economic productivity with dedicated areas for value-adding activities, like processing. This zone is typically concentrated in urban areas.

The harvest of regenerative lavandin in the Baviaanskloof

The harvest of regenerative lavandin in the Baviaanskloof


Regenerative agriculture; processing, marketing and distribution of dried and distilled products; developing 4 Returns business cases to facilitate landscape restoration; engagement of farmers and the community.