Conservation Easements in the Overberg
We work with farmers and landowners with Renosterveld on their property. It’s voluntary to sign a conservation easement, and through easements, we work together to protect these landscapes.
Here’s how it works:
- Either farmers approach us to sign an easement, or based on a set of criteria, including things such as: fragment size and/or connectivity, fragment quality (in terms of management effects), biodiversity value (based primarily on plants, birds and other taxa where possible), we will start a conversation with landowners. We want to protect vital remaining Renosterveld fragments together.
- If the landowner or farmer is willing to learn more, we present them with a full report on the biodiversity value of their farms. Discussions follow regarding management requirements and ways in which the ORCT can assist.
- If a landowner commits to signing an easement, our Ecological Coordinator draws up a draft Management Plan, which is completed with the landowner’s inputs and approval.
- Once the landowner is happy with the Management Plan and signs off on it, the legal paperwork is drawn up by our Ecological Coordinator and legal advisors.
- Then the easement is signed by the ORCT and the farmer, and registered at the Deed’s office.
- At this point, we work with the landowner/farmer to implement priority management interventions as highlighted in the management plan. These may include:
– Fencing patches to manage livestock access
– Clearing invasive alien plants
– Planning and supporting ecological burns
– Erosion control
– Undertaking ecological surveys to see what species (plants and animals) are found in the Renosterveld
– Monitoring growth post-burn
– And much more.
Got a question? Here are some frequently asked questions from our farmers.
A: Yes. But we recommend following the grazing guidelines in the Management Plan as much as possible in order to avoid overgrazing and long-term negative impacts.
A: We recommend at least two growing seasons, with only summer grazing thereafter.
A: Yes, you may; as long as they are not in watercourses and as long as they have been designated on the maps associated with your invasive alien plant management plan. For example, a grove of Bluegums can be retained for shade or bee-keeping, but this should be clearly shown on the map in your Management Plan.
A: Not necessarily. Feeding livestock within natural veld areas introduces several weeds and alien grasses – we therefore discourage it. However, we also recommend sticking to one or two intensively used areas, rather than moving feeding areas around the farm. Ideally they are managed as part of your overall veld and farm management.
A: No, but where possible, we assist with fencing larger areas, in order to optimise livestock management in the veld.
A: No, definitely not. It is illegal to plough Renosterveld irrespective of whether or not you sign a conservation easement. The partnership that you create with the ORCT in signing such an agreement provides the platform from which you can access funding and assistance to improve your veld management, adding value to your farm.
A: Yes. We will make sure that your Management Plan takes all relevant environmental legislation into account, making you 100% compliant with the laws, as long as you stick to the plan.
A: No. Signing the Conservation Easement and the associated Management Plan has the advantage of bringing you in line with all environmental legislation (particularly regarding the laws which state that you may not sell a property containing invasive alien plants). It also forces the next landowner to acknowledge where the virgin land is, hopefully adding another layer of protection to the vegetation which you have worked so hard to conserve. The idea is that you yourself would want to prevent future owners from destroying or degrading the Renosterveld on your farm – it’s the only way to leave this legacy.
Contact Odette at firstname.lastname@example.org or call + 27 (0) 83 551 3341
KLIPFONTEIN RENOSTERVELD RESERVE
The first conservation easement in South Africa focused specifically on protecting Renosterveld was signed in 2017.
WWF-South Africa signed with a Caledon landowner, MG Lötter. The Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust (ORCT) manages the easement and provides the management support to Lötter and other landowners who have signed up.
Through this innovative form of conservation on private land, 2825 hectares of Critically Endangered Renosterveld across the Overberg is now being protected in perpetuity as of 2020.