Hein Jonker, a farmer from Greylands outside Oudtshoorn in the Klein Karoo, has just become the fourth farmer in the Klein Karoo to sign up part of his farm into CapeNature’s stewardship programme. The stewardship programme is designed to encourage owners of private and communal land with high biodiversity value to conserve nature
Jonker is no stranger to conservation. In 2009, he teamed up with CapeNature, RenuKaroo Veld Rehabilitation and Conservation Management Services, to rest and rehabilitate an old ostrich camp on his farm.
Jonker voluntarily removed all ostrich and other livestock from the camp. This formed part of the Ostrich Business Chamber’s long-term biodiversity management strategy, which aimed at developing environmentally friendly farming practices to ensure the long-term sustainability of the ostrich industry.
Eight years later the condition of the veld in the old ostrich camp is noticeably improved. Jonker now also has now signed up part of his farm into CapeNature’s stewardship programme.
Stewardship means the wise use and management and long-term protection of natural resources – from the plants and animals that the land supports, to important processes such as pollination, seed dispersal, water flow and nutrient cycling. CapeNature advises and assists the landowner with the long-term wise management of the natural resources on the stewardship site.
Greylands is considered to be important for conservation because it falls in the Succulent Karoo Biome, a habitat type which is regarded as a global biodiversity hotspot. The Succulent Karoo has an extraordinary wealth of plants and animals, but also faces serious threats from human activities. At a finer scale, three of the four vegetation variants which comprise the Greylands Conservation Area are threatened, at risk from human activities such as overgrazing. Livestock grazing may be allowed on stewardship sites such as Greylands, providing that stocking rates are carefully controlled so that the veld condition doesn’t deteriorate.
Other stewardship sites in the Oudtshoorn area are Joey Potgieter’s Welbedacht, Koos Potgieter’s Appelsfontein and Andre Fourie’s Koetzerskraal.