The Renosterveld of South Africa’s Overberg is one of the most biodiverse Mediterranean type shrublands on earth. It is also one of the world’s most threatened ecosystems with just 4% remaining following extensive transformation for agriculture. For the last five years the staff of the Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust have been working tirelessly in helping conserve what is left of this imperilled ecosystem and its extraordinary biodiversity in perpetuity.
An important task and conservation tool has been the work of raising awareness of the importance and educating people about Overberg Renosterveld and its biodiversity. One needs to understand and identify the species that call a place home to understand the true importance of any ecosystem. What plant species occur in what habitat in this ecosystem? What other wildlife might occur there? What species are important pollinators and what plants are they dependent upon to survive? Renosterveld is such an understudied ecosystem that it can be hard to know where to start in understanding how the system works and who the key players are in its ecology. The better we understand an ecosystem the better we can conserve it for future generations.
As we start to gain a deeper understanding of Overberg Renosterveld, the more fascinating a world opens up and the more questions are posed and the more eager those who are lucky enough to explore this world are to learn more. This is the case for everyone from landowners, hikers, environmental practitioners to students working in this vegetation type. One of the challenges thus far has been the lack of a field guide to Overberg Renosterveld. Many a person has stood on a windy Overberg hillside in this vegetation puzzling over the identity of some mysterious species. What is it? Why do the books claim this species doesn’t occur here? Is it what I think it is? Is it a new species?
Fear not… the staff of the Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust and their colleagues are coming to the rescue with a shiny new field guide in the pipeline. The book, to be published by Struik, has a team of expert authors encompassing several lifetimes of experience from this unique and biodiverse ecosystem. They too started out by puzzling over some mysterious unidentified species on a windy hillside, that mysterious grey shrub that to the untrained eye looks the same as all the others or that distant bird in the sky, just a dot on the horizon. With time in the Renosterveld, study, experience, extensive biodiversity monitoring and many conversations with others in the field they learnt the answers.
The new field guide will encompass the flora, birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects of Overberg Renosterveld. It will educate, inform and inspire through learning about this extraordinary ecosystem. The authors look forward to bringing you this unique publication that stands to be a vital addition to any nature lover’s bookshelf.