Partnering to preserve biodiversity

Gem Diamonds is a member of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) and supports the SDGs. SDG 17 (Partnering for the Goals) recommends partnering to achieve goals and strengthen the means of implementation.

Partnerships play a critical role in our biodiversity protection work. We identified a network of interested and affected stakeholders to consult and work with to optimise our biodiversity stewardship work. These partners range from communities and local traditional leaders to subsistence farmers and government departments.

Our partnerships with local subsistence farmers include implementing rotational grazing and veld management programmes to ensure that rangelands outside of the mine lease area are protected from overgrazing, and that overgrowth in these areas is managed.

Gem Diamonds’ innovative strategy to sustain biodiversity within our mine lease areas preserves the natural environment and promotes the ecosystem services in these unique bioregions. Our strategy aims to protect and manage natural habitats in a way that ensures “no net loss” of biodiversity.

In support of our biodiversity protection ambition, we established “no-go areas” in mine lease areas. These areas are protected from development or disturbance by mining activities.

We work to prevent the loss of plant species through a rescue and relocation procedure – the Priority Plant Relocation Procedure. We helped establish a high-altitude rescue plant garden and seed storage facility in Lesotho with the most comprehensive native seed collection in the country.

Our biodiversity protection initiatives have shown excellent results, with previously threatened plant species establishing thriving colonies in the Letšeng mine lease area. The spiral aloe, threatened to near-extinction due to poaching and overgrazing, has established a footprint in the Letšeng mine lease area. This is the only place in Lesotho where its numbers are increasing.

Wetlands are considered priority ecosystems in the Drakensberg Afro Alpine Region. We partnered with the Lesotho Government and other stakeholders to protect these important ecosystems by constructing new wetlands and rehabilitating existing wetlands in the Khubelu valley.

Livestock overgrazing and trampling are major challenges in this regard, affecting the rate of erosion of the wetlands. Overgrazing harms wetlands through soil compaction, removal of vegetation and stream bank destabilisation. Wetlands offer excellent forage for livestock and provide a water source and cover, so livestock tend to spend a disproportionately large amount of time there.

Proper management of wetlands rests on effective rotational grazing to allow the wetlands to rest. The initial stages of the wetlands biodiversity protection project involved educating local herdsmen about sustainable grazing practices and ensuring that areas are grazed evenly to decrease the risk of erosion. Following better grazing practices, the environmental conditions are expected to improve, allowing wetlands to rehabilitate and sustain naturally.