May 24, 2023

Landowner conservation day – Swartland, 10 May 2023

The first Landowners day of 2023 was held at Bartholomeus Klip, the venue is situated on the edge of a dam and looking up through the Elandsberg Nature Reserve. This could not have been a more spectacular location to house the event.  Seven Conservancies was able to attend the day that consisted of presentations from organisations in the morning followed by an afternoon spent in the field.

The day kicked off with tea and coffee and first up was Bernard Wooding that introduced the Elandsberg Nature Reserve – a driving force within the Renosterveld Conservancy and a strong foundation on which conservation can only strengthen.

Wihan Bekker from African Data Technologies explained the use of Bio-char as a potential means of accessing Carbon Credits as well for clearing excess biomass from a fire break or alien vegetation clearing. This had incredible buy in from the participating landowners with some personal experience of biochar being shared with the group.  Next up was Dale Nortje from the Winelands Fire Protection Association highlighting the legal obligations of landowners as far as firebreaks go as well as the role the FPA plays in terms of support.  He also stressed the importance of the local FMU’s (Fire Management Units) rendering support on local level.

Arnelle Collison from CapeNature gave a very informative presentation on Biodiversity Stewardship and the various stewardship levels landowners can opt for when considering taking that route. Many landowners commented on needing the refresher course to better understand how the different tiers all fit together. Arnelle’s presentation left many of the landowners feeling far more confident in their understanding of Biodiversity Stewardship and to take back to their conservancies. Continuing the theme of biodiversity conservation was Jacques Van Rensburg from the WWF-Conservation Champions. Jacques mentioned that some of the landowners in the room are part of the program but really enjoyed understanding how the Conservation Champions program fits into the larger conservation framework. The last presentation was by Ismail Abrahim from the SANBI CREW program. Ismail is an absolute wiz-kid when it comes to i-Naturalist and it was fantastic to see the landowners really come to grips with what an app like i-Naturalist can offer and how much it can help at the local scale as well as feeding big data through to inform policy.

Lunch was enjoyed on the veranda of Bartholomeus Klip, overlooking the dam which gave everyone the opportunity to digest the morning’s talks and network with the other landowners and organisations. Then the afternoon had a real treat with all attendees loaded onto 3 safari vehicles and given a tour of the scenic Elandsberg Nature Reserve. This involved an introduction to several conservation projects including the Geometric Tortoise Head Start Project that aims to research, protect, and ensure survival of this critically endangered tortoise. 

Conservation at Work would like to thank The Table Mountain Fund, Elandsberg Nature Reserve, Bartholomeus Klip, Bontebok Ridge and all the presenters and organisers that have contributed to the success of the day.

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