The Hermanus district is known for its pristine Fynbos landscapes. But did you know that the largest connected stretch of Renosterveld left on the planet, is found in the Overberg. Renosterveld is a Critically Endangered habitat – and because of habitat transformation and agricultural practices, today only 5% remains. It’s part of the Cape Floral Kingdom, although it’s not as well known.
Haarwegskloof Renosterveld Reserve is a 500-hectare reserve in the Overberg that is owned by the WWF South Africa, and is managed by the Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust (ORCT). Aside from being part of the most contiguous stretch of Renosterveld globally, with many rare and endemic species, this reserve is also a place of learning for students. It is home to the only Renosterveld Research Centre in the world, which has already provided research opportunities to 12 post-graduate students. The centre is an old, derelict farmhouse that was converted following a successful crowdfunding campaign.
Now the Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust is extending this learning space – to also reach school children. The plan? To convert an old shed on Haarwegskloof into a learning hub for school groups and other visitors. It will be a place to learn and teach – with a common room for scholars, and a kitchen area to cater for these groups. It will also include 12 beds for visiting scholars.
According to the ORCT’s Director, Dr Odette Curtis-Scott, it’s vital to encourage children to connect with nature. “We need to start reaching out to children in this landscape, and beyond it, to create awareness about threatened ecosystems across the globe. And this is an example of such an ecosystem – which despite its severe fragmentation still holds immense diversity.”
Already schools in the Overberg have shown great interest in supporting this endeavour, encouraging their children to learn about Renosterveld.
The ORCT is now running a fundraising campaign on BackABuddy to support this. Odette says, “It’s been a dream of the Trust to instil environmental awareness among the youth. We know this is the only way to ensure Renosterveld and the rest of our threatened natural world can be protected by – and for – future generations.”
The deadline for the BackABuddy crowdfunding campaign is 24 December 2019.
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