Overberg Renosterveld Trust launched

A new Trust that aims to protect the remaining renosterveld in the Overberg was launched at a Conservation Farming Day held at Suurbraak, Swellendam, on Monday 10 September. The Overberg Lowlands Conservation Trust (OLCT) aims to conserve the remaining lowland vegetation, particularly renosterveld, through active partnerships. The Trust is a partner of the Agulhas Biodiversity Initiative (ABI).

According to Gerrit van Rensburg, Western Cape Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development at the Conservation Farming Day, the Trust promotes conservation on farming landscapes – essential in protecting some of South Africa’s scarcest natural resources.

Renosterveld is threatened by fragmentation of veld, invasive alien plants, overgrazing, and in some cases by illegal ploughing of virgin land. While renosterveld is one of the richest bulb kingdoms on earth, only four to six percent remains – most of this on private land. The majority of renosterveld land fragments are small pieces of land, usually less than 100 hectares.

The Trust, a public benefit organisation, was founded by the Suurbraak Grain Farmers Co-operative, a Black-Economic Empowerment farming company that promotes conservation on farming landscapes, through Conservation Farming principles. It has the backing of private land users, government departments and non-profit organisations such as WWF South Africa.

Dirk van Papendorp, commercial farmer and Chair of the Overberg Lowlands Conservation Trust said the Trust could help farming and conservation “tie the knot”. He said, “The aim is to find the balance between commercial benefits and conservation on the farm. One can farm sustainably without the loss of income.”

The OLCT Director Odette Curtis aims to work with land users in the Overberg to assist in lowlands conservation. “Last year alone, five new renosterveld species were found. But at the same time, we’re potentially losing useful medicinal and agricultural species from the lowlands vegetation. What’s more, we’re dependent on these natural systems for things like water management, erosion control and pollination.” The Trust will help assess land management needs and costs, and assess options for long-term conservation funding available to assist with this.

For more information on the Trust, contact Odette Curtis: 083 551 3341, or email: info@overbergrenosterveld.org.za.

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