Soil erosion is one of the major threats to the conservation of our Renosterveld especially in areas which have been historically overgrazed or neglected. Landowners and managers are invited to attend this day of practical advice and opportunity to share ideas regarding the combatting of erosion in Renosterveld and the management of Renosterveld in general.
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.
“Whenever I drive through the beautiful Overberg I feel comforted knowing that you are there. I have cared passionately about Renosterveld since my early days as a student in the early 1970s. Long regarded as the scruffy relative of Fynbos, it is now recognised as an extraordinarily diverse vegetation and a locus of recent and rapid plant speciation. The ORCT is pioneering effective ways of enhancing its status in terms of both hectares protected and awareness created.”
Professor Richard Cowling, Patron of the Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust.
Richard Cowling is Professor in the Department of Botany at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. He is a globally renowned botanist, ecologist and conservation scientist with a career spanning over 35 years. Richard’s research interests span the fields of plant diversity and evolution, community ecology, conservation science and paleoecology. He has published over 350 peer reviewed journal articles as well as authored four books and 59 articles. Much of his ground-breaking research has been of significant relevance in applied conservation and has been implemented in the fields of ecological economics, ecosystem services, invasion biology and restoration ecology. Richard has worked hard to secure the Cape’s biodiversity and his efforts have led to more than 100,000 hectares of threatened habitat being conserved in protected areas in perpetuity.
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
Together with our partners at BirdLife South Africa, the The Botanical Society of South Africa, SABMillerand WWF South Africa’s Better Barley Better Beer Project, the Overberg Crane Group and Sijnn Wines, we have produced a very impressive Renosterveld booklet for guiding managers and farmers on veld management and identification of some key species (from plants to insects to mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians). These will be distributed amongst landowners and are available for retail to other individuals who might be interested, or download it here.
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.
Spring in the Cape Floristic Region is a time to celebrate the very special beauty and diversity of our natural heritage. The Hermanus Flower Festival has been showcasing the wonders of Spring in the fynbos for over 60 years! This year is no exception. This special event will take place in the Fernkloof Nature Reserve from Thursday 22nd to Sunday 25th September.
For his PhD research Oliver is investigating a suite of different ecosystem functions in Overberg Renosterveld, from the effects of ecosystem ...
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 ...