Saving the Breede River's Floral Treasure
Renosterveld is a non-fynbos vegetation type associated with shale-derived soils of the Overberg. These soils contain clay which make them relatively fertile. The Overberg contains some of the largest and most intact Renosterveld remnants consisting of four different vegetation types, namely Central Rûens Shale, Eastern Rûens Shale, Western Rûens Shale, and Rûens Silcrete Renosterveld. All four are
Critically Endangered. Unfortunately, most Renosterveld has been replaced by agricultural crops and is now highly fragmented with fewer than 50 fragments being over 100 ha in size.
Ericoid shrubs (such as the well-known renosterbos, Dicerothamnus rhinocerotis, but also several other species belonging to the daisy family) are typically the predominant plant type of this vegetation, which produces unique floral displays in autumn and spring. Geophytes are plentiful – these bulbous plants lay dormant underground for most of the year until the climate is suitable for them to emerge. Examples of these spectacular flowers include species from the Moraea, Gladiolus, several orchids, the geophytic Pelargoniums and many more.
Two maps depicting the original extent of the Overberg renosterveld (above) compared to today (below).
Almost all Renosterveld remnants occur on privately-owned land, creating challenges for conservation. For this reason the Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust (ORCT) approaches priority (mostly commercial) farms that have Renosterveld patches and offers landowners a conservation easement. This is an agreement that allows a conservation servitude to be registered over the property and solidifies a partnership with the ORCT which enables the ORCT to commit resources towards the management and restoration of priority habitats. The Malgas wine farm, Sijnn Wines, has signed a conservation easement – protecting 30 hectares of Critically Endangered Eastern Rûens Shale Renosterveld and Rûens Silcrete Renosterveld forever. Both Melkhoutebosch and Napkysmond are also signed up as easements, totalling over 800 ha of renosterveld. The ORCT has to date signed 20 easements across the Overberg Rûens (wheat-belt), which collectively bring over 4000 ha of renosterveld into conservation in perpetuity.
There are a lot of reasons to protect these vulnerable habitats. The great diversity of shrubs and grasses, intertwined with flowering plants of all shapes and sizes (renosterveld is the richest bulb habitat on Earth!) compliments the natural beauty of the Overberg region. Renosterveld is also home to many animals, which form part of a complex and delicate ecosystem, despite the fact that this biodiversity hotspot is teetering on the edge of functional extinction. Preserving the ecosystem processes such as pollination and the movement of animals across corridors and remnant patches is paramount to ensuring the survival of all the life in the Overberg wheat-belt.
To find out more about Renosterveld and conservation easements please visit https://overbergrenosterveld.org.za/
© David Rogers
© David Rogers
© David Rogers
© David Rogers
© David Rogers
© Odette Curtis
© David Rogers
© David Rogers
© Odette Curtis
Area One Water Hyacinth Clean-up
On Saturday 25 September a group of approximately ten residents of the Nuyshoek area met to remove water hyacinth from the tributary opposite erf 53. Two small boats, one large boat and some paddleboards were used to tackle the invasive pests. First, nets were dragged between vessels to guide hyacinth out into the river. The plants then got loaded into large grain bags on boats and removed by a frontend loader on erf 55. After opening up the tributary's mouth the team were able to start removing hyacinth from further back. One of the volunteer residents, Paul Edgecome, stated that the operation was quite strenuous and time-consuming, but many hands made light work. Paul reckons approximately 16 cubic meters of hyacinth was removed!
The LBRCT would like to sincerely thank all who were involved in this clean-up and would also like to highlight the sterling work done earlier this year when the remaining 2 cubic meters were manually removed from the Brakrivier in Area One. We encourage all property owners to remove hyacinth in front of their property, as this is the only way we will make a significant difference.
Water hyacinth clogging up a tributary in Area One.
Paul Edgecome loading grain bags full of hyacinth.
Grain bags were transported over the river and removed using a frontend loader.
Water Quality and Bird Count
Once a month the LBRCT conducts a bird count and water quality run on the Breede River. Both operations are conducted at spring low tide (full moon and new moon). For the water quality run this is to account for the pushing tide increasing the salinity of the water upriver as we travel, and for the the bird count it is to observe the most birds as they forage on the exposed mudflats.
For September's results please click here.
Get involved in the upcoming
Great Southern BioBlitz
With the change of season into Spring the world is buzzing with life. The days are longer and warmer, insects are busy pollinating, birds are breeding and reptiles are returning from hibernation.
The second-ever Great Southern BioBlitz is an attempt to record all the living species in the Southern Hemisphere! The goal is to provide a platform for groups, associations and individuals to encourage engagement in citizen science across the hemisphere. All you need to do to contribute is to download the iNaturalist application on your handheld device or make an account on your computer and make observations over the collection period of 22 – 25 October.
Please use your location when making observations, and don't worry if you cannot identify the species immediately. Just make sure you have taken some good, clear photographs.
We hope you're just as excited as we are to showcase the great diversity of the Breede River!
To view some video tutorials showing you how to use the iNaturalist app and website click here.
Boat Licence and Outlet Information
Annual Municipal Boat licences are due for renewal every year from 1 July and valid until 30 June the following year. Here's a list of our outlets available for boat licence sales:
Living the Breede
Phone: 067 162 9081 or 082 324 2757
Open: Mon-Sun from 08:00 – 17:00
Breede Riverine Estate
Phone: 028 542 1345
Open: 09:00 – 17:00
Lower Breede River Conservancy Office
Phone: 028 537 1296
Open: Mon-Fri 08:00 – 16:00
The Sands Supermarket
Phone: 028 537 1800
Open: Mon – Sun 07:30 – 16:30
Phone: 028 514 2010
Open: 08:00 – 17:00
Phone: 028 514 1589
Hours: 08:00 – 17:00 Monday to Thursday
08:00 – 16:00 Friday, Closed Weekends
The mission of the LBRCT is to conserve and protect in a sustainable manner, the natural resources and living species in the biological and ecologically sensitive Breede River Estuary and the adjoining land areas while at the same time promoting safe and lawful recreational use.
If you take an active interest in, or use, the Breede River Estuary we hope that we can persuade you to become a member of the LBRCT and to support our endeavours on your behalf by way of your contribution to these efforts.
Tribute to the late Trevenen Barry – LBRCT Trustee
It was with shock and great sadness that the LBRCT learned of Trevenen Barry’s sudden passing on 14 September 2021. Trevenen was a founder member of the Conservancy some 25 years ago and had been a Trustee since its formation. As a farmer, he had a great passion for nature and was dedicated to conservation in all its forms, whether it was in agricultural practices to have the least impact on Mother Earth, or protection of biodiversity from the excesses of mankind. He played many roles in society and was a committed philanthropist, serving on many committees and church bodies. His quiet but determined presence as a fellow Trustee of the LBRCT will be greatly missed.
From the Chairman
International Coastal Clean-up
The International Coastal Clean-up is an annual event organised by the Ocean Conservancy in partnership with Plastics SA. It harnesses the power of volunteers around the globe to pick up rubbish in a combined effort to combat the world's pollution problems. In conjuction with National Clean-up and Recycle Month, as well as World Clean-up Day the event was conducted internationally on 18 September. The Lower Breede River Conservancy Trust organised two clean-ups; one in Witsand (17 Sep) and one in Infanta (18 Sep). A total of 76 kg of rubbish was cleaned off our beaches!
Thank you to everybody who attended and congratulations to those who won prizes. We would also like to thank our sponsors:
A total of 31 kg of rubbish was removed by Witsand volunteers on 17 Sep.
Windy conditions did not stop volunteers in Infanta from picking up a whopping 45 kg of rubbish on 18 Sep!
LBRCT Annual Information Meeting – Witsand
The LBRCT will be hosting an Annual Information Meeting (AIM) at the River Breeze Restaurant and Functions venue in Witsand on 20 November 2021 at 10:00. The restrictions on public gatherings in terms of the Covid-19 Regulations have been sufficiently eased and the Trustees now believe that, with the correct public health protocols being followed, a meeting can safely be held.
The meeting should last approximately one-and-a-half hours and we hope to see as many as possible conservation-minded members of the public join us to discuss the most pressing issues that are threatening the health of the estuary we all enjoy so much. More details of the meeting agenda can be viewed here.
Witsand Nature Reserve BioBlitz
A BioBlitz is an event that focuses on finding and identifying as many species as possible in a specific area over a short period of time. The Witsand Nature Reserve Trust, in partnership with officials from CapeNature and the Outramps Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers (CREW) Group invited the LBRCT to attend the event.
Volunteers were instructed to download a free plant and animal identification app on our phones called iNaturalist. Using this app you can take photos and upload them in real time to get suggestions. The app is clever and picks up on visually similar plants and other observations recorded nearby.
As a student intern at the LBRCT, I learned a lot from the BioBlitz, such as common names of plants that I see regularly, the different habitats in which they occur and even how their seeds are spread. A member of the Outramps CREW Group taught me about some interesting seed dispersal mechanisms including seeds that get stuck on the hairs of an animal that brushes past it, like a Grysbokkie, and others that are designed to blow away with the wind.
The last BioBlitz for the reserve was conducted in March, and this most recent one was to account for the display of flowers in spring. All photographs taken and species identified can be found by visiting the Witsand Nature Reserve project on iNaturalist (link below). Thank you to everybody that attended the event and those who took me under their wing to teach me so much about the beauty of nature that's right at my doorstep. I look forward to getting involved in the future again.
by Chad Rozenkrantz
Chad identifying Polygala myrtifolia at the BioBlitz in September.
Streaktail (Genus Allograpta)
Send your photos of anything related to the natural beauty of the Breede River to email@example.com or via social media to stand a chance of winning a bottle of locally produced Sijnn Wine!
The Sijnn winery cellar and vineyards with renosterveld in the foreground.
Spiders have taken over these Aloe ferox in Malgas.
© Erika Calitz
October's photo-of-the-month was taken by Erika Calitz from Malgas. Congratulations Erika, you have won a bottle of Flagship Sijnn Red 2015.
Sponsor an Owl Box!
After receiving numerous reports of Spotted eagle-owls nesting in vacant holiday homes in Duinepark, Witsand, the LBRCT decided to erect two owl boxes along Tuna street nearby.
This project inspired us to start a new initiative where you as a nature lover can sponsor one of these beautiful boxes to support our feathered friends. We'll identify a good spot along the river and name it after your family!
The evening hoots of an eagle-owl and even the haunting screech of the barn owl form part of the Breede's natural beauty. There are also many benefits of promoting owls to nest on your property; these nocturnal creatures dine on a variety of rodent pests as well as large insects that can wreak havoc on your garden.
Thank you Francois Holloway for donating the first box. Since then we have received donations from Andrew Crawford, Geoff Brownell, Giles Buswell, and Lester Coelen. Thanks very much, we will put up your boxes as soon as possible!
The cost of erecting one box is approximately R1000. For more information please contact our office
028 537 1296 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The first owl box put up outside Duinepark.
Owl box number two is located down the dirt road towards Blokke.
Is your Certificate of Fitness (COF) up to date?
Annually, all boats need to be surveyed by an accredited SAMSA surveyor. Here's a list of some local surveyors for you to get your
INTERNALLY APPOINTED SAMSA SURVEYORS:
EXTERNALLY APPOINTED SAMSA SURVEYORS: