GenZero Joins Project Funding to Restore 100,000ha of Land in South Africa

Singapore-based GenZero has invested into the first phase of a large-scale ecosystem restoration project in South Africa, together with Mirova and Rubicon Carbon.

The restoration project by Imperative, targets to restore 100,000 hectares of land through active replanting of native succulent plant, spekboom, and at full scale is expected to sequester more than 30 million tons of CO2 equivalent.

The Project Phase 1, which targets to replant Portulacaria afra thicket across 10,000 hectares, is being funded under a syndicated senior secured stream agreement, led by Mirova, an affiliate of Natixis Investment Managers dedicated to sustainable investing, (Mirova), along with GenZero, and Rubicon Carbon LLC (Rubicon Carbon).

By providing catalytic funding for Phase 1, the Project Funders aim to support the de-risking of the full-scale 100,000-hectare project. Imperative has established and locally staffed a subsidiary for the project with local leadership with multi-decade major projects experience and has also partnered with NatCarbon Africa, a South African restoration specialist with deep local conservation and restoration expertise.

Positive Environmental and Social Impact

The Project has been designed to restore the natural habitat, enhance local biodiversity, and sequester a substantial amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, contributing significantly to global carbon reduction and removal efforts. 

Portulacaria afra, commonly known as spekboom, is a native succulent plant prevalent in the subtropical thicket biome in South Africa. Resilient to semi-arid environments, it acts as an “ecosystem engineer” to help restore the functionality and biodiversity of its habitat.

The Project aims to bring a significant amount of foreign direct investment into South Africa, to create training and employment opportunities in an area of South Africa with some of the highest unemployment rates in the country, and to return benefits to local communities and local conservation initiatives.

At full scale, the project is estimated to remove over 30 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent over its life. By focusing on native species, the project intends to facilitate the restoration of ecological balance and provide a sustainable model for environmental recovery and conservation.

Innovative Project Development Approach

Imperative is bringing a major projects approach to the hands-on, boots-on-the-ground development of these projects, introducing sophisticated project planning, execution and physical asset management capabilities from adjacent industries. The Project leverages a proprietary technology stack, spanning advanced project planning and management technologies, a proprietary array of in-field and remote sensing data collection sources and major-projects grade activity coding to give best-in-class, actionable transparency on project execution and asset performance.

The Project not only marks a significant step in Imperative’s commitment to deliver on large-scale, high-quality emerging market projects, but also sets a new benchmark for ecological restoration and carbon credit removals project delivery on a global scale.

The quality of the Project is supported by dedicated and experienced Project Funders, who are well regarded in the Nature-Based Solutions space.

“This is the first major project from Imperative’s pipeline to reach final investment decision. We aspire, with this project, to showcase how large-scale native species ARR can be implemented with the same rigor, discipline and predictability as large-scale projects in other, more mature capital projects sectors,” said Scobie Mackay, CEO of Imperative. “We are grateful to have the support of such a high-quality club of funders and we look forward to demonstrating delivery and large-scale positive impact on the ground”.

Commenting on the investment Frederick Teo, CEO of GenZero said: “The work that Imperative has set out to do is important as a significant proportion of South Africa’s lands are already degraded. This Project aims to incorporate nature into economic and financial planning by planting resilient native plants such as spekboom while unlocking the benefits of carbon finance to enhance the livelihoods of local communities supporting restoration activities on-the-ground.”

GenZero is a Singapore-headquartered investment platform company focused on accelerating decarbonisation globally. Founded by Temasek, the Singapore government’s  global investment company, it seeks to deliver positive climate impact alongside long-term sustainable financial returns by investing in opportunities with the potential to be nurtured into impactful and scalable solutions.