Umgano is an initiative of the Mabandla Traditional Authority (“MTA”), initially under the leadership of Chief Sidoi, and since his death, of Chief Baleni. The project area is approximately 7 000 ha in extent, located between Coleford Nature Reserve, and the Ntsikeni NR in KwaZulu-Natal Province.
The Umgano Brand is named for Umgano Mountain, which occurs just outside of the northern portion of the study area. Certain of its natural communities (including high altitude grasslands, indigenous forests, protea and cycad savanna) are of very high nature conservation value. The area is well watered (has an annual precipitation of more than 1000 mm p.a.), and is bounded by two perennial rivers, the Ngungununu, and the Ngwagwane.
The rivers are considered to have good potential for sport and subsistence angling. Amongst its important attributes are its mountainous character, and high scenic values.
A permit for 1354 ha has been approved and planted up to 60 % Eucalyptus and 40% to Pines.
Approximately 1 300 ha in extent (18.5% of the area) comprises mostly high altitude grasslands in excellent condition, but also the protea savanna and cycad (Encephalartos ghellinckii) community and indigenous forest . This natural zone will soon be proclaimed as an official Nature reserve.
This comprises of a livestock grazing zone, 2000 ha (31.5%) and a cropping zone, c. 1 500 ha (21.5%) in which various forms of agriculture will take place including production of beef livestock, dairy, and high-quality crops such as nuts and vegetables, together with a commercial nursery and vegetable processing plant.