The sides of the Baviaanskloof ("Baboon Canyon") in South Africa's Eastern Cape Province range from very steep to vertical. Halfway up a 45-degree slope, under the supervision of spirited 19-year-old Abbey-gail Lukas, 10 men and women are planting thick cuttings of a plant locally known as Spekboom (Portulacaria afra) in circles three meters apart.
Spekboom is the characteristic ground-cover plant of subtropical thicket in this area. A healthy patch of it is growing 500 meters away, but where Abigail's crew is working the earth is bare, as dry and rough as sandpaper. Pick up a stone and it will burn your hand in an instant. A century of overgrazing by goats and sheep has left only a scattering of standing canopy trees,
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