For his PhD research Oliver is investigating a suite of different ecosystem functions in Overberg Renosterveld, from the effects of ecosystem ...
Renosterveld – one of the most threatened habitats on Earth
Renosterveld is highly fragmented with fewer than 50 fragments being over 100 ha in size. Almost all Renosterveld remnants occur on privately-owned land, creating an additional challenge for conservation. All these factors, coupled with the large range of endemic and threatened plants and animals inhabiting this bio-hotspot, make this unique rhino veld one of the most threatened habitats on Earth and putting it in urgent need of conservation attention.
“The Overberg is one of the most beautiful areas in the Cape. So much of it has been sacrificed for farmland, which is understandable. The natural, pristine areas that remain need to be preserved and protected with care and vigour, however. Caring for nature is caring for ourselves and for others.”
Valiant Swart, Ambassador of the Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust.
Valiant Swart is a South African musician from the Winelands town of Stellenbosch. He performs in both Afrikaans and English in folk rock style and is a highly accomplished singer/songwriter and poet, having collaborated with other big SA names such as Jack Parow. His work is inspired by artists such as Koos Kombuis and Anton Goosen. He is no stranger to the Overberg and has performed some wonderful concerts in venues in Napier, Bredasdorp and the Elim Wine areas.
Statistics: Status of Lowland Renosterveld
The Overberg contains some of the largest and most intact Renosterveld remnants consisting of four different vegetation types, namely Central Rûens Shale, Eastern Rûens Shale, Western Rûens Shale, and Rûens Silcrete Renosterveld. All four are Critically Endangered.
We are a small NPO dedicated to halting this downward spiral.
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The Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust needs your help in order to help save the Endangered Renosterveld in the Overberg.
Here’s how you can help
We are very sad to announce the passing of a great friend of the Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust, Jeany Poulsen. Jeany is the mother of Zoe Poulsen, one of our collaborating PhD students and talented author of many of our most recent blog posts. Zoe has suffered a terrible loss at a difficult and challenging time in her life. Yet being the kind and thoughtful person that Zoe is, she has set up a tribute fund within the ORCT in honour of Jeany.
Renosterveld Research & Visitor Centre: Now open for visitors and overnight stays
Haarwegskloof Renosterveld Reserve represents the largest protected piece of lowland Renosterveld on Earth. It is owned by WWF-SA and managed by the Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust. In 2014 we established the first-ever Renosterveld Research and Visitor Centre on the Reserve and it is now open for bookings as a self-catering guesthouse.
for bookings and further info.
Did you Know?
At the southern tip of Africa lies the Cape Floral Kingdom – The smallest, yet richest plant kingdom in the world, most renowned for its beautiful Fynbos with its Proteas. A component is known as Renosterveld, named after the Rhino (Renoster in Afrikaans) that used to roam the region.
Renosterveld is the richest bulb habitat on Earth, displaying a spectacular bloom over the spring season. Not only does this system comprise a wealth of plant species beyond one’s wildest imagination, it is also home to a diversity of mammals, reptiles, insects, amphibians and birds.
Our more showy Fynbos habitats have been afforded much protection while our lowland Renosterveld has been overlooked and largely neglected – despite it being renowned for its incredible spring flower displays and extraordinarily high levels of biodiversity and endemism.
Unlike Fynbos, which grows on poor sandy soils, Renosterveld is found on more fertile soils, and has been developed for agriculture to such an extent that less than 5% remains today. This unique habitat is in itself a biodiversity hotspot, but is teetering on the brink of extinction.
Working with Farmers to Save Renosterveld
The Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust is uniquely positioned to bring landowners, communities, wildlife agencies, and NGOs together to conserve the last remnants of Lowland Renosterveld in several strategic locations. We help farmers a.o. with the management of their valuable veld more appropriately.
Part of Cape Floral Kingdom
The Cape Floral Kingdom is the smallest, yet richest Plant Kingdom on Earth. A system recognized as one of the World’s seven Biodiversity Hotspots.
Richest Bulb Habitat in the World
Lowland Renosterveld is a highly diverse vegetation type, most renowned for its spectacular Spring (August/September) flower displays.
Remaining Lowland Renosterveld
Renosterveld once covered most of the Lowlands of the Overberg, but due to its fertile soils it is now highly transformed for agriculture.
Red Data Status
All four Overberg Lowland Renosterveld vegetation types are Critically Endangered.
Renosterveld – The Story
Around 300 years ago, when European settlers started moving into the region, the Overberg lowlands were teaming with large game, like Black Rhino, Bontebok, Eland and the now extinct Bluebuck and Quagga. Unfortunately, these lowlands were most suitable for agriculture and over time 95% of these habitats have been converted to cash crops and wildlife replaced with livestock.
What is left of Renosterveld habitat today is rather different from that before large-scale agricultural development. It was probably a far more grassy system with an even higher diversity of shrubs and bulbs. Sadly, the replacement of large game with small, selective feeders, such as cattle and sheep, combined with years of mismanagement, has severely degraded this ecosystem and is often dominated by ‘unwanted’ shrubs, such as Renosterbos.
Renosterveld is now highly fragmented with the smallest remnants is little as one square meter. The Overberg contains some of the largest and most intact Renosterveld remnants, consisting of four different vegetation types, all Critically Endangered. Almost all Renosterveld remnants occur on privately-owned land, creating an additional challenge.
All these factors, coupled with the large range of endemic and threatened plants and animal species inhabiting this bio-hotspot, makes this unique rhino veld one of the most threatened habitats on Earth and putting it in urgent need of conservation attention.
One of the key aims at the heart of the Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust has always been the pursuit of greater knowledge about this Critically Endangered, little known and highly misunderstood vegetation type.
The past few months have involved numerous site visits to the watercourses within the Overberg Wheat-belt to create awareness among landowners about the project as well as develop an understanding on the current status ...
Another year has passed and on the 16th April we turn four years old. What a wonderful four years we have had! We have a long way to go and our dreams and ambitions are big, but when we reflect on where we have come until now ...
Last month for the first time the Haarwegskloof Renosterveld Reserve became the base for running the Field Guides Association of Southern Africa (FGASA) Level 1 course. FGASA promotes the training of guides through a series ...
The Overberg Lowlands Conservation Trust (OLCT) and the Overberg Crane Group (OCG) have formed a new partnership. The Overberg is home to about 50% of the world population of Blue Cranes ...
Some of the beauties photographed this late summer / early autumn in Overberg Renosterveld. How lucky we are.
The Black Harrier is one of Southern Africa’s most beautiful and charismatic birds of prey. It a graceful, medium sized charcoal-coloured bird with striking white markings, piercing yellow eyes and a long barred tail.