Best of 2015: How 3,000 holes in the dirt can save a barren land — and alter a social landscape

herding goats, Succulent Karoo, South Africa

A herder leading goats in the mountains of South Africa’s Succulent Karoo region. After years of overuse and growth of invasive plant species, the land has become barren and struggles to support livestock. (© Conservation International/photo by John Martin)

Editor’s Note: As 2015 comes to a close, we’re recapping some of Human Nature’s top stories of the year. See more here. 

Unemployment reduced. Gender equity improved. Fragile ecosystem restored.

That’s the story out of Leliefontein, a town in the South African region of Namaqualand.

At least, it’s part of the story. As with any conservation project, this one comes with its complications and challenges, which Conservation International’s Esther Engelbrecht does not shy away from discussing in her blog post.

As she writes, looking out across 3,000 shallow holes in the ground, “…this pitted landscape — aimed at catching water and reducing erosion — is about more than rejuvenating barren soil. These tiny holes, it turns out, are small blows against a stubborn social divide in South Africa.”

Click here to read the full story.

Cassandra Kane is a staff writer for Conservation International. 

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