To truly experience Renosterveld, you need to get down to your hands and knees and immerse yourself in the shrubland.
10 YEARS OF RENOSTERVELD CONSERVATION
This year we celebrate 10 years as the Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust. We have already made wonderful inroads into Renosterveld conservation. And we are here to stay!
We take a brief moment to look back on 10 years of Renosterveld protection. Like our work with farmers in our conservation easements programme, launching our first Field Guide to Renosterveld of the Overberg, becoming managers of the Haarwegskloof Renosterveld Reserve, creating a research hub for Renosterveld students, and more recently working to protect Black Harriers – a Renosterveld icon.
None of this would have been possible were it not for farming partners, our supporters and our wonderful donors! We are so grateful for the incredible support over these 10 years. So here’s to the next decade – and to keeping our precious Renosterveld far away from the edge of extinction. READ MORE
Enjoy this video looking at the past 10 years, and at this most incredible ecosystem called Renosterveld.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Latest Renosterveld News
In April 2022, the Spider Club held a ‘spider walk’ at our Haarwegskloof Renosterveld Reserve, situated between Bredasdorp and Swellendam, just north of the De Hoop Nature Reserve.
Under the keen eye of curator, Petra Broddle, the world’s only Renosterveld herbarium is fast becoming a crucial conservation resource.
This is a special newsletter. Because this year (16 April to be precise), we
celebrate 10 years as the Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust. I have to pinch myself to remind myself that this is actually real – that a dream which seemed like an impossible feat 10 years ago actually manifested!
In 2012, the Renosterveld of the Overberg had a helping hand for the first time, when a small Trust with big dreams launched. Now the Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust turns 10 years old.
“I want people to see how precious Renosterveld is, and how we’re losing it. I took guests to our lookout point on Haarwegskloof and showed them the largest connected stretch of Renosterveld left in the world."
Each year, the field ecologists of the ORCT team up with our incredible naturalist friends, Cliff and Suretha Dorse, to undertake at least one BioBlitz annually.
Effective conservation informed by a deep knowledge which has been built on research has always been at the core of the work of 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.
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.