“Piece by piece our Renosterveld puzzle, to connect and secure the remaining fragments of Overberg Renosterveld, is coming together.”
So says Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust Director, Odette Curtis-Scott, as another conservation easement is signed in the Overberg. This easement, called the Muurkraal Conservation Easement, was signed by farmer Matthys Streicher. It adds 522 hectares to the ORCT’s easement programme over three properties. This brings the total number of hectares protected to 7 022.
The Muurkraal easement – which is written into the title deeds of the farm to ensure the veld is protected forever – is special for both the ORCT and Matthys.
Matthys says, “The Renosterveld here is exceptional, with beautiful ravines and a huge variety of species. This really is another step in the right direction to protect what we have left.” Aside from the endemic Renosterveld species that occur here, it’s also home to breeding Black Harriers. The site is right next to the Goereesoe farm (as well as the BTE Renewables Wind Farm Excelsior) – which is believed to host the highest density of breeding Black Harriers in the Overberg.
This is the second easement that the Streicher family has signed with the ORCT. The first one, Uitvlucht, was signed in 2020. This property is home to at least half the global population of Polhillia brevicalyx.
The Muurkraal Conservation Easement borders on Uitvlucht. “For me it makes sense to make the connection between all my conservation areas,” Matthys says. Endangered Eastern Rûens Shale Renosterveld, Critically Endangered Rûens Silcrete Renosterveld and Endangered Cape Lowlands Alluvial Vegetation all form part of the easement.
The agreement between the farmer and the ORCT allows the Trust to work with the landowner to manage the veld appropriately, providing support to remove invasive alien plants and to put up fencing to manage livestock access and assist with reintroductions of indigenous game.
This signing also has special significance for Odette and the ORCT.
She says, “The most extensive and connected stretch of Lowland Renosterveld left on Earth starts at our own reserve, the Haarwegskloof Renosterveld Reserve. Now there is just one property between Haarwegskloof and the newly signed easement sites which are north of our reserve. So they’re all part of the same incredibly special system – and we’re thrilled to have all the pieces of the puzzle coming together and being secured, slowly but surely.”
She adds, “My dream remains to connect up Renosterveld areas across the Overberg, where landowners can see how their farms are part of a bigger landscape. For me, this starts with protecting this entire cluster of Renosterveld around Haarwegskloof – all the fragments from Haarwegskloof north to Uitvlucht. And this easement is a major step to achieve that.”
Our sincere thanks to WWF South Africa for their support of the ORCT Conservation Easement Programme, as well as to the Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust, the Mapula Trust and the Ford Wildlife Foundation for their ongoing support to the ORCT, including the Easement Programme. And a special thank you to Fauna and Flora International UK (FFI-UK) and BTE Renewables who contributed significantly towards the conservation management costs for this easement.