Conservation

LATEST NEWS FROM THE OVERBERG RENOSTERVELD CONSERVATION TRUST

Posted on the 2nd August 2017

LATEST NEWS FROM THE OVERBERG RENOSTERVELD CONSERVATION TRUST 

ANOTHER EASEMENT SIGNED: KYKOEDIE CONSERVATION
Our first independent easement has been signed! We have been working with Joshua Human of Kykoedie farm for the last four years and he has, from the beginning, been committed to signing an easement with the ORCT. With the help of WWF’s legal team, the legal blueprint for easements was developed, and after the signing up of Klipfontein with WWF, we are now able to pursue all the easements we have had ‘waiting in the pipeline’. Kykoedie will be the first of many.
Kykoedie comprises over 200 ha of renosterveld remnants and watercourses and has also been a test site for experimental watercourse restoration work being implemented under our WWF-Nedbank Green Trust -funded Watercourse Restoration Project. Keir Lynch is the Project Manager on this exciting initiative and has put together the management plan which will guide this agreement. This plan also identifies where important ecological interventions need to take place and where the ORCT can assist, with the funding received from the Green Trust.
Thus far, we have assisted Joshua with implementing a prescribed ecological burn (March 2017) and we have provided the fencing to ensure that the burnt area will be protected from livestock grazing. Under Keir’s guidance, we have also fenced parts of the Sout River off from livestock (using temporary electric fencing) to give the river banks a chance to restore themselves. Some of these fenced-off areas have been seeded with a selection of indigenous species in order for us to compare the merits of active vs. passive restoration of these important watercourses.
Watch this space for post-burn spring flowers, which are sure to be spectacular!

WHAT IS A CONSERVATION EASEMENT?
An Easement is a Conservation Servitude put over the land and signed in favour of a recognised entity (in this case, the ORCT). It is attached to a title deed restriction in perpetuity and is governed by a management plan, which is developed through the partnership.

A SUMMARY OF SOME ISSUES DISCUSSED AT THE RECENT ORCT AGM
MUCH OF OUR CONSERVATION WORK HAS TAKEN PLACE ALONG THE WATERCOURSES IN THE OVERBERG: Watercourses link renosterveld patches to each other. What’s more, we’ve found these areas are home to an amazing diversity of mammals, insects and reptiles - giving life to these agricultural landscapes. But despite the conservation work taking place, questions were raised during the AGM - in particular relating to the potentially significant decline in pollinators. 

WE’RE INCREASINGLY FINDING THAT SPECIFIC POLLINATORS ARE DISAPPEARING: The Long-Tongued Fly, for example, pollinates long-tubed species such as Pelargonium dipetalum and forms of Nerine humilis with unusually long reproductive parts. However, anecdotal evidence shows that flowers of the latter species are not being pollinated as the pollinator may have become extinct locally. This sends alarm bells as to the health and ecological viability of remaining renosterveld remnants. 

ON THE UPSIDE, WE’VE FOUND A NUMBER OF RENOSTERVELD SPECIES IN OUR AREA, MANY OF WHICH WERE BELIEVED TO BE EXTINCT: Chasmanthe bicolor was thought to be extinct in the wild, but has been found on Haarwegskloof. We’ve also discovered several healthy viable populations of the Endangered Gladiolus vandermerwei and Moraea debilis: potentially allowing for them to drop a category on the Red Data List. 

THE ORCT IS NOT ONLY ABOUT PLANTS. We’re working to protect entire renosterveld habitats and ecosystems: So we were thrilled when Jannie found Copris sexdentatus (a small dung beetle that looks like a rhino beetle), on Haarwegskloof. This beetle has not been seen in 60 years. But, did you know, many of the invertebrates that live in the renosterveld are also threatened? Many beetles are illegally caught and sold on the black-market. 

We’re so grateful to all our partners and friends who share our work to protect the last remaining renosterveld patches. We have a lot of work ahead of us. (There are over 30 000 renosterveld patches remaining in the Overberg, fewer than 50 are over 100 ha in size). We’re looking forward to supporting more landowners with protecting them.

TIME FOR SPRING FLOWERS IN THE OVERBERG – DON’T MISS IT!
Once a year, this ‘Cinderella’ renosterveld landscape transforms into a botanical wonderland. This spring bloom peaks from early August to early October and is always over far too quickly. Make sure you don’t regret missing it this season (the flowering, thus far, appears to be largely unaffected by the drought) - get out there, visit your local remnants, come and visit Haarwegskloof Renosterveld Reserve, or make use of the guesthouses provided by some of our champion landowners and explore the various types of renosterveld found in our region (visit http://overbergrenosterveld.org.za/renosterveld-farmers/ to see available guesthouses). 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The signing of the Kykoedie easement agreement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cape Sugarbird
Grey-winged Francolin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Denham's Bustards

 

Agulhas Long-billed Lark


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Bird images by Anton)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


COMMENTS

613
CAROL VAN HOOGSTRATEN (posted: 2017-08-02 21:03:42)
Well done Odette and team. We are so grateful for people like you.