Global partners team up to protect renosterveld

Global partners team up to protect renosterveld

An influential partnership between international conservation organisations and the Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust (ORCT) has secured the protection of 500 hectares of globally important and Endangered renosterveld in the Overberg – providing a lifeline for species that would otherwise be at risk of vanishing forever.

This conservation team has collaborated to buy a key portion of a property situated 40km south of the town of Swellendam, called Plaatjieskraal. The farm borders on the 500-hectare Haarwegskloof Renosterveld Reserve, and together will now make up the most extensive area of protected renosterveld and the largest cluster of contiguous renosterveld left on earth.

Above: View from Haarwegskloof to Plaatjieskraal

The partners who teamed up to buy the portion of Plaatjieskraal are the ORCT, WWF South Africa, the UK-based World Land Trust, the IUCN NL Land Acquisition Fund, as well as WildLandscapes International, based in America. The property will be managed by the ORCT, in partnership with World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) South Africa and the World Land Trust.

Above: The endemic and threatened Southern Black Korhaan

16 years later…

According to Odette Curtis-Scott, Director of the ORCT, “This is a powerful collaboration of like-minded organisations from across the world. This is significant because it shows that renosterveld is, at last, being recognised internationally. It’s really exciting for us to be working with these incredible partners.”

The negotiations to secure the property took 16 years, until a deal was finally reached with the landowner in 2023. She says the acquisition is essential because the farm is home to nearly 500 hectares of intact renosterveld. In contrast, around three quarters of remaining renosterveld are less than one hectare in size – the equivalent of one rugby field.

“Together, we now have nearly 1000 hectares of renosterveld on Plaatjieskraal and Haarwegskloof that have really been given a lifeline,” Odette says. Haarwegskloof was bought by WWF South Africa in 2013, and is managed by the ORCT. Plaatjieskraal will be declared a Nature Reserve and managed together with Haarwegskloof.

Above: Leucadendron coriaceum (Endangered)

A hotspot for breeding Black Harriers

The Haarwegskloof/Plaatjieskraal cluster also supports one of the largest breeding hotspots for the Black Harrier, an endemic, Endangered species that relies on large, natural, intact habitats in which to breed. There are only an estimated 1300 individuals left of this charismatic raptor.

This was one of the reasons that the IUCN NL Land Acquisition Fund became involved. According to Marc Hoogeslag, coordinator of the Fund, “As the Land Acquisition Fund of IUCN NL, we did not only look at protecting the habitat of renosterveld’s charismatic animal species, but also took the fauna in this botanically unique region into account.”

Odette says the dream is to connect all the remaining large remnants together up to the De Hoop Nature Reserve, a coastal fynbos nature reserve managed by the provincial conservation authority, CapeNature. This could be achieved by buying land where farmers are willing to sell subdivided portions of unused natural vegetation, but also by working with farmers who love their veld to sign conservation easements which commits their land to conservation in perpetuity through a voluntary title deed restriction.

WWF South Africa
World Land Trust
IUCN NL Land Acquisition Fund
WildLandscapes International