Fighting climate change one spekboom at a time 

Written by Claire Smithard

The Prometheus Rover Crew has been busy fighting climate change and air pollution in Gauteng by distributing Spekboom and educating Scouting members though out the province how to plant and care for them at various Scouting properties.

This initiative was the brainchild of Kathleen Godfrey. Together with project manager Dawn Ledbitter, their Crew and Rovers from around the region, Spekboom was distributed throughout Gauteng from the end of 2020 into early 2021.  “I had been looking to do an eco-project for quite some time and considered a few options such as seed balls”, explains Kathleen. “I was looking for something suitable for all our age groups, with a demonstrable ecological impact and that could continue long term and be sustainable. Spekboom fit all of those options, as it can be looked after and propagated by all age groups. I was pondering the idea of carbon neutrality after qualifying as a carbon footprint analyst, and thought it might be interesting to look into various ways Scout Groups and Rover Crews could sequestrate the carbon they use from electricity etc. “, she adds.

“The aim of the project is to have 550 Spekboom planted throughout the Gauteng Region, with the hopes of establishing Spekboom thickets and bettering the climate we live in. Spekboom acts as a carbon sponge removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere which then improves the quality of air that we breathe” continues Kathleen.  “The number was selected through an estimation of how many Scout sites and Groups there are in Gauteng. The team had originally planned for a “Spekboom Tent” or base at Kontiki, Kim shield and other events where Scouts could stop by and learn about the plant, taking ten Spekboom for their Group at these events, but the plans had to change due to Covid regulations and safety.”  To ensure the eco-educational objectives are reached, the team produced a “care guide” .

It was key to have a sustainable project – therefore the plants were distributed to Scout Groups with the intention that they care for the Spekboom, teach their youth members and propagate from those they have received. The team have set up Spekboom “Mother bushes/thickets” at Arrowe Park and Gilwell to support this.

“Now that all the Spekboom have been planted and distributed we plan to map the locations of all Troops that received Spekboom and calculate the carbon footprint implication as well.”

Kathleen has left a sustainable legacy project running within the Gauteng Region that is being implemented by Scouting members. It can also be used as a trial or baseline for future projects of this nature. Given each Scout Group involved received at least 10 spekboom, we estimate that if each of them had ten members, this project has reached at least 5000 young people across the province, and provided an easy eco project for Troops and Groups.

With thanks to the Africa Scout Foundation for funding this initiative and helping youth in Gauteng to #createabetterworld.

The project team consist of Kathleen Godfrey (Prometheus Rovers), Dawn Ledbitter (Prometheus Rovers), Erin Kahn (Horison Knights), Calvin Micklethwaite (Horison Knights), Liam Snyman (1st German), Paige Langley (Prometheus Rovers)  and Caitlin Grant (Prophecy Rovers).