Conservation Easements in the Overberg

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Working towards Sustainable and Living Landscapes

The Overberg wheat-belt region comprises mostly agricultural land with grains and livestock farming being the dominant land-uses, while the remaining Renosterveld fragments exist solely in this agricultural matrix. It is therefore imperative that conservation efforts work in the broader landscape and not only in the natural vegetation fragments.

Through the development of our Easement Programme, we are working towards maintaining sustainable, living landscapes and conserving biodiversity both on arable (production) lands and in the adjacent natural vegetation. The programme focuses on building and cementing partnerships with farmers, so that together, we can work towards optimal grazing and fire management of Renosterveld, as well improved management of adjacent agricultural lands, e.g. reducing herbicide and pesticide run-off and drift, clearing invasive alien vegetation, rehabilitating water courses, and addressing pollution and waste management.

The ORCT aims to ‘fill the gap’ in lowland conservation, by offering landowners opportunities and incentives for declaring their remnant natural habitats as ‘Protected’ into perpetuity. This programme will be developed based on the American Conservation Easement Model and will be refined using the option of conservation servitudes through title-deed restrictions. It is hoped that enabling such a programme, while offering substantial financial assistance for important management interventions, will make such declarations more attractive to private landowners, thus ensuring more lowland habitats (and their associated biodiversity) are conserved in the long-term.

What is a Conservation Easement?

In the United States, a conservation easement (also called a conservation basement, conservation covenant, conservation restriction or conservation servitude) is a power invested in a qualified private land conservation organization (often called a “land trust”) or government (municipal, county, state or federal) to constrain, as to a specified land area, the exercise of rights otherwise held by a landowner so as to achieve certain conservation purposes.

It is an interest in real property established by agreement between a landowner and land trust or unit of government.

The conservation easement “runs with the land,” meaning it is applicable to both present and future owners of the land. As with other real property interests, the grant of conservation easement is recorded in the local land records; the grant becomes a part of the chain of title for the property (Wikipedia).

The ORCT uses this American Easement model as a blueprint for conservation action in the Overberg.

Contact us

Contact Odette at info@overbergrenosterveld.org.za or call + 27 (0) 83 551 3341