The landscapes of South Africa’s Overberg region are characterised by rolling hills (known as the Ruggens or Rûens) comprising a mix of both ...
Renosterveld – one of the most threatened habitats on Earth
Renosterveld is now 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, makes this unique rhino veld one of the most threatened habitats on Earth and putting it in urgent need of conservation attention.
It is with great sadness that we share with you the news of the passing of a great friend of the Overberg Lowlands Conservation Trust Jana Stirton. She leaves behind our dear friend and Special Advisor, Prof Charlie Stirton, and their daughter, Elishka. Charlie and Elishka have set up a tribute fund within the OLCT in honour of Jana.
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
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 Lowlands 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, extraordinary 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 Lowlands 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.
The Overberg Lowlands Conservation Trust (OLCT) is looking for an Extension Officer for a three-year contract. The incumbent should be based / prepared to be based in Bredasdorp or Napier, be able to work independently,
You have been asking how you can become more involved in supporting the OLCT and in response to this, we have launched a new set of webpages which offer a range of options.
The third meeting of the Overberg Lowlands Conservation Trust research group Renosterveld is one of South Africa’s most under-conserved vegetation...
South Africa’s renosterveld is one of the country’s most under-researched vegetation types. There are still many secrets yet to ...
In addition to Zoë’s PhD, we have Luka Gallant undertaking his MSc investigating the potential for indigenous plants in Renosterveld ...
Our partners in fire management, the Greater Overberg FPA, are taking new steps to assist landowners with both fire prevention and planned ecological management burns.
Get the latest Renosterveld News: Autumn Angels, Happy Birthday to us, Burns & Renosterveld Research and Student News are some of our recent stories.