Water gives us life.
At the southern tip of Africa, people and wildlife depend on an intricate water network.
The Nuwejaars wetlands, and the rivers and underground water arteries that feed them, are at the heart of this network.
A group of worried landowners and Agulhas Plain residents in South Africa saw how these wetlands started disappearing. And how nature and people suffered.
And so we formed the Nuwejaars Wetlands Special Management Area.
Today we have 25 landowners, and the town of Elim, working together over 46,000 hectares in the Plain, to protect our water systems, and the biodiversity-rich landscapes all around them. The Nuwejaars Wetlands Special Management Area (or SMA) is a new way of protecting nature and all its complex ecosystems on private land in the Overberg municipal region.
It’s a conservation model new to South Africa.
We’ve committed to conservation and sustainable farming by signing title deed restrictions. That means that we’ll forever protect this biodiversity hotspot, while still supporting food security in South Africa through our sustainable farming. While we’ve tested the model here in the Overberg, it’s now being replicated in other parts of South Africa – with wonderful success.
Why is the Agulhas Plain so important?
The Cape Floral Kingdom
covers much of the landscape around the Nuwejaars wetlands and rivers.
Highly threatened lowland fynbos
grows here – home to plant species found nowhere else in the world.
This critical habitat also gives life to
globally threatened birds.
Birds like the Southern Black Korhaan, Secretarybird and Hottentot Buttonquail thrive here.
That’s why the Nuwejaars Wetlands Special Management Area forms part of an
Important Bird and Biodiversity Area.
The Special Management Area is the original
home of the Bontebok
– once nearly extinct. Now we’ve brought them back.
And we’ve reintroduced Buffalo, Hippo and Hartebeest –
once extinct on the Agulhas Plain.
You’ve got to see this area for yourself.
If you love the outdoors, the Nuwejaars Wetlands Special Management Area offers a natural world you won’t see anywhere else. It’s a paradise for birders, with the Agulhas Plains birding project identifying 235 species. There are a range of places to overnight – from more rustic and private accommodation, to luxurious homes and cottages. The Nuwejaars Wetlands members include wineries in the Elim Wine Route.
By Wim de Klerk. “It was still raining and cold when I arrived at the Nuwejaars Wetland Buttonquail Bash this morning, but nothing that a hot coffee and homemade rusks couldn’t fix. No-one seemed in a hurry as it was cold and wet outside.
A new study is answering this question: how and why do zebra have stripes? And the Nuwejaars Wetlands Special Management Area is helping to answer this. Brenda Larison is an Adjunct Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles …
Every day we ...
Access our biodiversity
If we want to reach social and environmental sustainability, the Nuwejaars Wetland Special Management Area must achieve economic sustainability.
Use Our Assets
We’re positioning ourselves to unlock the area's sustainable capital. We must take advantage of our physical assets – like the infrastructure we’ve put in place.
Traditionally private landowners in the Overberg have made their income from agricultural activities, like grain and livestock farming.