Slow progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and addressing climate change has meant that we urgently need simple strategies that can be implemented quickly.
Strategies for Sustainability (SfS) provide ideas that can be readily implemented by government, organisations, cities, neighbourhoods, entrepreneurs and households to improve environmental, economic and social sustainability and develop a more sustainable future.
Small plant nurseries can be set up where there is access to water, space and customers who will buy plants. Suitable locations in cities are small areas of land with parking near spruits, drainage channels and greywater sources. Small enterprises would be provided with leases to occupy sites and develop plant nurseries. The nurseries would provide plants and seedlings for municipality, organisations and households living locally.
Plant nurseries make it much easier to plan successful gardens as they provide healthy plants which can be easily be planted and cared for. They create significant sustainability impacts by producing plants that sequestrate carbon, produce food and support biodiversity. They can also create small enterprises and local jobs. These are the type of environmental, economic and social impacts that can be created:
Small enterprises: Small enterprises to be developed with minimal input.
Employment: Plant nurseries are labour intensive and could create local employment.
Food: Nurseries could provide seedlings for vegetable and fruit gardens to improve food security and health.
Carbon sequestration: Plants such as Spekboom (Portulacaria afra) can be used to remediate sites and have very significant carbon sequestration capacity helping mitigate against climate change (SANBI).
Municipalities: Would identify suitable locations and let these to enterprises to develop the nurseries. Municipalities would monitor and support nurseries.
Small enterprises: Would sign leases with the municipality and develop the temporary infrastructure required to establish the nursery. They would make sure that they have appropriate capacity and products to be financially sustainable.
Customers: Municipalities, businesses, schools and communities would purchase plants from local nursery for their gardens and for ‘adopt-a-spot’ locations around the city.
Plant nurseries are ideally located near a source of free or low-cost water and where there is a strong local market for plants.
Identify suitable locations.
Carry out feasibility studies to establish the viability of the site including availability of water and a market.
Develop a simple development agreement including land lease and purchasing agreements with municipality and local organisations.
Advertise locations. Sign leases with suitable enterprises.
Provide support and monitor plant nurseries.
Plant nurseries can be used to create significant environmental sustainability impacts by supporting increased local biodiversity and carbon sequestration capacity. It can also provide strong economic impacts by creating new enterprises and local jobs. Beneficial social impacts in the form of local organisational structures and improved food security can also be created through the Hub.
Developing and implementing Strategies for Sustainability
Some SfS ideas have been fully developed and applied, others are being developed and some are new and experimental and require further research and piloting. SfS updates and examples will be published by Gauge and an SfS Compendium is planned.
Please get in touch with us if you are interested in developing and implementing strategies for sustainability or accessing the SfS Compendium.
References and Resources
FAO (2020). Forests and Sustainable Cities [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.fao.org/3/I8838EN/i8838en.pdf [Accessed 15/9/2020].
SANBI (2020). Portulacaria afra | PlantZAfrica [ONLINE] Available at: http://pza.sanbi.org/portulacaria-afra [Accessed 15/9/2020].