With climate change and reducing carbon emissions high on the world’s agenda as more than 100 countries pledged on Monday to end deforestation by 2030 at the COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland, South Africa’s Kingsley Holgate adventure team have committed to making their 30,000km Defender Transcontinental Expedition completely carbon neutral.
At an event hosted by 4×4 Megaworld in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday (2 November) evening, renowned explorer and humanitarian Kingsley Holgate announced that the expedition will support the planting of indigenous trees and spekboom to offset 100% of the expedition’s carbon footprint, on the newly established 760ha Tanglewood Conservation Area in the Eastern Cape. This will form part of a biodiversity restoration programme implemented by the Conservation Landscape Institute and aims to restore Albany Thicket, a key component of one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots.
Rhodes University has assisted the team in calculating the number of trees that need to be planted to offset the fuel used by the expedition’s two P400 Defenders on the 30-country route. In the coming weeks, 2,000 indigenous Albany Thicket trees will be planted on 2ha of the Tanglewood Conservation Area to mitigate the Expedition’s carbon footprint.
“As explorers who’ve journeyed to every country on the African continent, we’ve seen first-hand the devastating effects of deforestation and climate change over the past 30 years,” said Kingsley. “Regions that were once verdant with vegetation that could sustain healthy populations of both wildlife and humans are now, in many instances, barren dustbowls that cannot support any life. We’ve also witnessed the destruction of tens of thousands of hectares of Africa’s magnificent, centuries-old forests through indiscriminate logging and charcoal production.”
“Further, on a personal level, we are acutely aware that as an exploration team delivering important humanitarian aid into remote areas in Africa, we need to ensure that our expeditions do not contribute to the damage being caused by carbon emissions and global warming,” he continued. “So, we are delighted to be part of this world-class restoration project that will continue to benefit both people and planet for a hundred years and more.”
The Defender Transcontinental Expedition is the 40th geographic and humanitarian journey undertaken by Kingsley and his team, which left from Cape Agulhas, the southern tip of the African continent, last Thursday on its ‘Hot Cape to Cold Cape’ route through Africa, eastern Europe and Russia to Nordkapp in the Arctic Circle in Norway, which is the most northern point of Europe. From there, the expedition’s route turns south through western Europe and will end on the mystical Isle of Anglesey in Wales, where the first Land Rover design was sketched in the sands of Red Wharf Bay in 1947. It will also conduct humanitarian and conservation work to assist 300,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa and will support other reforestation initiatives on its route to Egypt.
Speaking at the same event, internationally acclaimed wildlife vet and conservationist Dr William Fowlds said, “With climate change at the root of many major current global issues, it is of paramount importance that we not only act now to mitigate the current drivers of climate change, but simultaneously, begin to reverse some of the damage done to our atmosphere and biosphere as well as adapt to climate-induced threats in order to secure a sustainable and livable future for ourselves and for the planet.”
Dr Fowlds continued, “Landscapes that have been restored back to fully functional ecosystems hold the key to resilience against climate change, the biodiversity crisis and disease pandemics. With seven of South Africa’s biomes and a high proportion of the country’s fauna and flora species occurring within the Eastern Cape, the region has been recognized to be of global biodiversity hotspot significance.
“This restoration project represents far more than carbon sequestration, and, in a sense, the Defender Transcontinental Expedition is also exploring the unfolding humanitarian story to fix a degraded planet.”
Image Courtesy: Supplied