Conservation Easements in the Overberg

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Working towards Sustainable and Living Landscapes

The easement programme essentially works according to the following outline:

  • Critical lowland habitats are selected based on a set of criteria, including, but not limited to: fragment size and / or connectivity, fragment quality (in terms of management effects), biodiversity value (based primarily on plants, birds and other taxa where possible), landowner willingness, etc.
  • Landowners are approached and presented with a full report on the biodiversity value of their farms. Discussions regarding management requirements and easement options follow.
  • If a landowner is willing to sign a conservation easement, the legal paperwork is drawn up by Programme Manager and legal advisors.
  • A rough Management Plan is generated by Programme Manager in order to highlight management costs and identify where the incentive funding can be spent.
  • Final negotiations around conservation easement and management assistance (i.e. incentive funding) take place.Easements are signed by landowners and relevant authorities (e.g. ORCT, BLSA, FFI, or other relevant Authority).
  • Easements are signed by landowners and relevant authorities (e.g. ORCT, BLSA, FFI, or other relevant Authority).Detailed Management Plan is generated by the ORCT, with regular inputs from landowner(s).
  • Detailed Management Plan is generated by the ORCT, with regular inputs from landowner(s).
  • Incentive funding transferred to landowner for implementing agreed Management Plan.Sign to be erected outside the farm stating ‘(farm name): Renosterveld Conservation Area’ (will include sponsor’s logos, etc.).
  • Sign to be erected outside the farm stating ‘(farm name): Renosterveld Conservation Area’ (will include sponsor’s logos, etc.).ORCT & relevant partners to undertake annual or biannual audits of all easement sites.
  • ORCT & relevant partners to undertake annual or biannual audits of all easement sites.

Contact us

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

What is a Conservation Easement?

In the United States, a conservation easement (also called a conservation base-ment, conservation covenant, conservation restriction or conservation servi-tude) 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

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 plans on using the American Easement model as a blue-print for conservation action in the Overberg.

The first conservation easement has been signed in South Africa that is focused specifically on protecting Renosterveld.

WWF-South Africa has signed with a Caledon landowner, MG Lotter. The Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust (ORCT) will manage the easement and provide the management support to Lotter and landowners who sign up in future.

Through this innovative form of conservation on private land, part of the largest area of Western Rûens Shale Renosterveld left in the world (370 hectares) will be protected in perpetuity.

New to South Africa

Conservation easements or servitudes are a fairly new concept in South Africa, although they have been used internationally. A servitude is attached to the title deed, which is binding on the successor in title. A management plan is attached to the servitude, providing support to landowners and identifying priority management interventions. The ORCT then assists with the implementation of these interventions.

Conservation easements offer landowners an easy and accessible opportunity to conserve their land. The servitude is placed over the entire farm, with areas demarcated for conservation and agriculture. The land does not need to be rezoned, as is the case with many other protected area proclamations.

Dr. Odette Curtis, Director of the ORCT, said that the signing is the first of hopefully many conservation easements. “Most farmers want to do the right thing on the natural vegetation on their farm. They know that the Renosterveld patches on their properties are where the wildlife is found – giving life to their properties. But they didn’t always know how to commit to protecting these patches. We hope that other farmers will be inspired by this positive commitment that MG has made.

“Through conservation easements, it is now so much easier to commit to protect your land. We’re thrilled to be part of this innovative approach with wonderful partners.”

Supporting landowners in 2017

According to Jan Coetzee, WWF-SA’s Manager: Land Programme, “Most of South Africa’s biodiversity rests in the hands of private landowners. For us, it’s vital to ensure our conservation approaches meet the requirements of a landowner managing his land in 2017. Easements meet those requirements.”

Dr. Curtis said the ORCT is working with a range of willing and eager landowners across the Overberg. The aim is to start with protecting the largest areas remaining of the four types of Renosterveld in each of the areas that they still occur.

The signing was celebrated on 8 February at Lotter’s farm, Klipfontein.

The event was attended by landowners, LandCare (Department of Agriculture, Western Cape), the ORCT, WWF-South Africa, and the Breede-Gouritz Catchment Management Agency. Funding support has been provided by the Table Mountain Fund and WWF-SA.