The FIRST World Biodiversity Forum brings some of the world’s top researchers and scientists together in Davos, Switzerland in February. And among them is Dr Odette Curtis-Scott, Director of the Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust.
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.
A new Renosterveld learning hub for children
We need your help.
Haarwegskloof Renosterveld Reserve is home to the ONLY Renosterveld Research Centre in the world.
NOW it’s time to teach school children about the value of nature, including Renosterveld and other threatened ecosystems.
The plan: To convert the old shed on Haarwegskloof into a learning space for school groups and other visitors. This will become a training room (including a kitchen area to cater for groups). And a small accommodation unit for 12 beds.
Help us protect Renosterveld through education.
Landowners are busy. They’re busy using their land to live off. Many of these farms have rich natural landscapes – which land users want to protect.
So the Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust has partnered with NGOs and farmers to test a new conservation structure – called a Conservation Easement. Easements give landowners an accessible model to conserve their land.
How does it work? A servitude is attached to the title deed – with a management plan attached to the servitude. So the ORCT team provides support, including incentive funding, to protect remaining renosterveld patches.
The blue print for this model is in place. And we’ve had our first easements signed already. Now we’re rolling out our management support to landowners who want to care for their renosterveld, forever. Find out more.
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.
The Reserve is based in the Overberg, between the towns of Swellendam and Bredasdorp.
Very close to the world-renowned De Hoop Nature Reserve. With over 500 species, the plant life here is exceptional. But our reserve is also home to many birds and mammals that depend on this habitat – like the Honey Badger and birds like the Black Harrier and Southern Black Korhaan. Come for the day. Or stay at our stylish Old Dairy Guesthouse, or our more rustic Research and Visitor Centre accommodation.
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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
Latest Renosterveld News
Today we celebrate Valentine’s Day, the festival of romance and love celebrated worldwide. It is also known as Saint Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, dating back to the 14th Century within the circles of Geoffrey Chaucer.
Two years ago, I moved with my husband and soon-to-be-born baby to a 4-ha smallholding on the edge of Napier. The previous owners had farmed goats here and what remained of the veld areas on this property appeared to be quite ‘hammered’ by the goats and I had little hope that there would be much left.
The Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust (ORCT) is looking for an Ecologist/Extension Officer for a three-year, full-time contract, with the option to renew subject to funding availability.
So why is environmental education so important? How does it change lives? The United States Environmental Protection Agency defines environmental education as:
The Cape Agulhas Municipality has committed to protect a total of 80 hectares of Critically Endangered lowland Renosterveld and Fynbos forever. The municipality signed a Conservation Easement with the Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust (ORCT) on Tuesday, 3 December 2019. The signing took place in Bredasdorp.
Our Haarwegskloof Renosterveld Reserve has allowed us NOT ONLY to protect Renosterveld. It has also become home to the only Renosterveld Research Centre in the world. Already more than 12 post-graduate students have used and benefited from this centre, converted following a successful crowdfunding campaign in 2014.
We’re looking for Renosterveld enthusiasts, who want to learn more about Renosterveld and support the Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust.
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.
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.
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 as 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 habitat one of the most threatened habitats on Earth and putting it in urgent need of conservation attention.