Durban is alleviating poverty and reducing CO2 by engaging the local community in turning a landfill buffer zone into a conservancy, planting indigenous trees and rehabilitating local natural habitat.

Landfills are rarely viewed as a positive factor for a city, but the Buffelsdraai Landfill Site Reforestation Project in Durban is the exception to the rule. The project enhances the city’s environment by involving citizens in turning the buffer zone around the landfill into a conservancy, thus improving quality of life for local citizens and limiting the landfill’s carbon footprint. With 200 hectares of local natural habitat around the landfill rehabilitated and more than 750,000 indigenous trees planted, Durban is not only mitigating its carbon footprint but also increasing local climate adaptation capacity.

10 million tons of CO2 is predicted to be avoided in the lifespan of the landfill

Empowering local communities to become tree-preneurs, the project addresses unemployment and assists in alleviating poverty by giving the tree-preneurs vouchers for school fees, bicycles, food, or other services in exchange for growing and planting trees. To further limit greenhouse gas emissions, methane gas from the landfill is burned for electricity. Durban plans to be the first city in Africa to turn a landfill’s methane gas into electric power.

The challenge

Historically, landfills have been viewed as detrimental to the environment, but through the Buffelsdraai Landfill Site Reforestation Project, Durban is proving that enhancing both social and environmental conditions is possible with innovative thinking and local community involvement.


Economic Vouchers worth $970,000 have been distributed to the local community for taking part in planting trees near the landfill.

Environmental The amount of trees currently planted will save about 55,000 tons of CO2.

Health Due to the regular meals provided through vouchers for the underprivileged residents of the local community, their overall health and quality of life have improved.

Social The Buffelsdraai Landfill Site Reforestation Project has created 43 full-time jobs, 16 part-time jobs, and 389 temporary jobs, decreasing the poverty level in the local community.

About Durban

Durban is the largest city in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal. Durban’s metropolitan municipality ranks third among the most populous urban areas in South Africa after Johannesburg and Cape Town. It is also the second most important manufacturing hub in South Africa after Johannesburg. Durban is famous for being the busiest port in South Africa and is also seen as one of the major centres of tourism because of the city’s warm subtropical climate and extensive beaches.

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