Ferns are known from our cool damp forests, where water and shade are abundant. They’re certainly not as well-known as members of the Renosterveld family.
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.
Autumn adventures in the Overberg’s Renosterveld
Autumn. For many, likely the most unremarkable of the four seasons in South Africa. But that’s not the case in the Overberg, and especially not in the Renosterveld of the Overberg. Instead, the combination of the flowers, the wildlife, and you, make this one of the most special times to visit and get to know this Critically Endangered habitat.
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.
Just take a look at these… It’s a series of Renosterveld-inspired gift options available on our online shop. This range includes buffs, re-usable shopping bags, serviettes and more. The designs were specially created for the ORCT. So you won’t find them anywhere else.
What’s more, you GIVE BACK to Renosterveld preservation when you buy any of these products.
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.
Field Guide to Renosterveld of the Overberg
The first ever Field Guide to the Renosterveld of the Overberg is now available. The guide is the result of five years of extensive research. It’s authored by Dr Odette Curtis-Scott, Mike Goulding, Nick Helme, Rhoda McMaster, Sean Privett and Prof Charles Stirton. It features 980 Renosterveld plant species, as well as 140 of the animals you’ll find in this habitat. It also includes an illustrated glossary, details on Renosterveld ecology and management guidelines for landowners.
Odette says, “It’s my dream that this book brings Renosterveld to life – both to those who simply want to spend time enjoying and exploring this rich ecosystem, and to those who hold its future in their hands.”
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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
Earth Day (today, 22 April) seeks to Restore our Earth. This research, however, shows the continuing loss of our precious Renosterveld and the wealth of diversity it houses.
These new research findings reveal that from 2016-2020 a total of 478.6 hectares of Renosterveld vegetation in the Overberg was lost to illegal ploughing.
On International Plant Appreciation Day, there’s no better time for a quick refresher course, as captured in the ‘Field Guide to Renosterveld of the Overberg’. How much do YOU remember?
This new Drosanthemum is known as D. overbergense, distributed from the Overberg eastwards to Albertinia on the Garden Route. It was discovered almost simultaneously at two different sites, in the Overberg by the ORCT’s Dr Odette Curtis-Scott and at Riversdale by Peter Bruyns.
On Haarwegskloof Renosterveld Reserve, autumn adventures abound. This reserve is owned by WWF South Africa, and is managed by the Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust.
Botanist and specialist legume taxonomist Brian Du Preez has collaborated with colleagues Leanne Dreyer, Charles Stirton and Muthama Muasya in publishing a new revision for the genus Polhillia, representing one of the main outputs of his Masters research.
The age of Renosterveld – or rather, when it last burned – largely determines which animals you’re likely to find in the veld.
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.