Who we are
What we do
The Nuwejaars Wetland Special Management Area (SMA) consists of 25 landowners, including the Elim community, living in the Overberg region in South Africa. Together we've taken private land, bordering on the Agulhas National Park, and committed it to conservation, fighting climate change, farming sustainably and uplifting all who live here. The Nuwejaars Wetland Special Management Area operates through its Section 21 Not-For-Profit company, the Nuwejaars River Nature Reserve.

Our vision is: To create a sustainable ecology, which ensures the protection of the Nuwejaars Wetland Ecosystem, enhances the heritage and culture of the sub-region, generates benefit for all stakeholders, helps meet social and environmental requirements, and encourages community lifestyles compatible with environmental sustainability.

Why start the Special Management Area ?
Some years ago just four percent of the Agulhas Plain enjoyed any form of conservation. Fire, aliens and habitat transformation consumed much of the remaining land. Given the unique nature of the fauna and flora (many species found within the Special Management Area are found nowhere else in the world), landowners and conservation groups realised something needed to be done

Members details

How the SMA evolved:
2002, June
Landowners met for the first time to seriously look at ways of protecting the habitat, consisting of 'highly irreplaceable' wetlands, threatened fynbos species and the highly threatened Rhenosterveld. More

2003, August
Landowners signed a Statement of Intent (initially 11 landowners joined). At the same time, the Nuwejaars River Nature Reserve was registered as a Section 21 company.

2007, March
A development framework for the Nuwejaars Wetland SMA was drafted between 2003 and 2007, and finally approved in March 2007. Through this lengthy process, all landowners had given the framework the green light.

2008, December
The Special Management Area's Constitution was completed and signed by all SMA members. The Constitution set out that all members had to sign title deed restrictions on his or her land, to abide by the SMA's goals. At this time, the Nuwejaars Wetland Land Owners' Association (NWLOA) was established.

2009, February
The German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, facilitated by SANParks and the Agulhas Biodiversity Initiative (ABI) offered a grant, to kick start a climate change adaptation project. More

2009, March
The first game was re-introduced to the area. Hippos, buffalo and hartebeest, which became extinct in the Agulhas Plain in previous centuries, now roam within the Special Management Area. Eland, bontebok and 'quagga' were also released. More

2009, September
The Nuwejaars Wetland Special Management Area started its alien clearing operations. Aliens around crucial wetlands were first removed. Wetlands were rehabilitated, and indigenous trees were planted along the rivers. Throughout this project, about 300 jobs were created on the Protected Environment. Including the dependents, this amounted to around five percent of those living in the Cape Agulhas Municipal area. More

2010, August
The United Nations Development Programme rated the climate change adaptation project, undertaken by the Nuwejaars Wetland Special Management Area and funded by the German government, as 'highly satisfactory'. This is the highest possible rating.
The Nuwejaars Wetland SMA is rehabilitating its key areas and cultural features. More
Our tourism venture will include training for operators and entrepreneurs. More
Production and food security is enhanced through sustainable use of land. More
Sustainably-utilised products will prove a key
economic driver for communities here.
By developing the SMA's infrastructure, we can
unlock the area's sustainable capital.
Enhancing the wellbeing of all who live here is an imperative for the SMA. More