We are the custodians of natural landscapes that are invaluable in terms of biodiversity, right at Africa’s southernmost tip.
The Nuwejaars Wetlands Special Management Area is found in the Agulhas Plain, in the Overberg region of South Africa.
WHO WE ARE
There are 25 members belonging to this innovative new conservation venture, including the culturally-rich town of Elim.
Together we’ve taken private land, bordering on the Agulhas National Park, and committed it to conservation, farming sustainably, fighting climate change and benefiting all who live here.
We’ve signed restrictions against our title deeds, to live and farm according to our conservation principles.
And we’ve created a Section 21 Company (the Nuwejaars River Nature Reserve), which ensures all income we generate is pushed back into our conservation work.
Why start the Special Management Area?
In the early 1990s, just four percent of the Agulhas Plain enjoyed any form of conservation. Too frequent fires, invasive plants and habitat transformation consumed much of the remaining land.
Pressure on farming operations through rising input costs encouraged landowners to use more natural land. And climate change also impacted, leading many to look for alternative production systems.
But the land was considered a biodiversity hotspot
– not least because of the unique animals, flora and landscapes found here. Of the 1850 plant species found here, at least 315 are of special concern (many found nowhere else in the world).
The region is home to many threatened bird species – and has been included as one of BirdLife South Africa’s Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas. Birds found here include the Hottentot Buttonquail, Blue Crane, Black Harrier, Secretarybird, Denham’s Bustard, Southern Black Korhaan, Agulhas Long-billed Lark and many, many more.
The NWSMA revolves around the wetlands. The area is the majority of the catchment of the Nuwejaars River, which connects with many wetlands crossing the Plain. These wetlands and rivers ultimately feed the De Mond Estuary – a Ramsar Site of International Importance.
And so landowners and conservation groups realised something needed to be done.
Today the NWSMA is run as a voluntary association, where ownership is maintained (with title deed restrictions signed by all our members), but the natural areas in the Special Management Area are managed jointly and strategically. That leaves landowners and land users to concentrate on sustainable food production – with the agricultural sector a major job creator here.
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.
Visit the area
If you love the outdoors, the Nuwejaars Wetlands SMA offers a natural world you won’t see anywhere else. More.