On March 13, 2014, Stephanie Booker, Marie Wilke and Aino Cantell of Natural Justice participated in a meeting with Board members of Vuyani Development Trust, in the community of Nelspoort. The meeting was hosted by Southern Cape Land Committee and Vuyani Development Trust with the view to discussing Biocultural Community Protocols (BCPs) and shale gas exploration within the community. The town of Nelspoort lies within the local municipality of Beaufort West, from which the community leases their farmland.
The meeting began with a presentation by Stephanie Booker on the role of Natural Justice and BCPs in the context of extractive industries. This was followed by a presentation on the advantages and disadvantages of fracking activities taking place within the community. Community members shared their own experiences on the issues, and articulated some of the community’s needs in light of the proposed activities, such as better information, and education on their rights. With a high unemployment rate, fracking is seen by some in the community as an opportunity to end current levels of poverty. Local organizations such as Southern Cape Land Committee are currently developing their work to provide balanced information to communities across the Karoo.