As the first Conservancy created in the Gauteng area, Rhenosterspruit has notched another “first” - that of membership of the Magaliesberg Biosphere.
Vincent Carruthers, well-known speaker, author of “The Magaliesberg” and chaiman of the Biosphere Initiative Group, handed over its first membership certificate at the RNC's Annual General Meeting on 25 July.
Vincent Carruthers hands over the first Magaliesberg Biosphere member's certificate to the RNC's chairperson, Helen Duigan
The Magaliesberg range is the heart of the Biosphere and the Cradle of Humankind and a number of surrounding conservancies form the required buffer around it. For more info on this remarkable initiative go to www.magaliesbergbiosphere.co.za. You are also invited to become a member of the Magaliesberg Biosphere. Read more here.
The RNC AGM was preceded by a lunch of delicious home-made soups and breads and gave us time to greet old friends and meet new ones. Fifty-five people attended, representing all the parts of the Conservancy. For the first time we welcomed members from Monaghan Farm.
Instead of a detailed Chairman's Report, a summary of the year's activities was handed out with the financials. The report stressed our guiding belief that this area is one of Gauteng's irreplaceable natural assets, worth every effort to protect, and our guiding principle, that crises should be used as catalysts to find new solutions to problems.
From the Report: “The Conservancy has been in a 'holding mode' for some years, preventing irreversible changes from taking place through fragmentation and densification. The underlying feeling was that the field had to be kept open for positive initiatives that could emerge. That potential is now on our doorstep: Biodiversity Stewardship, Protected Environment and Nature Reserve options opening up for landowners.”
Mercia Komen of Doornrandje spelt out these options in detail and Steve Panos of the Oori Game Reserve followed with a presentation on how carbon offsets and the value of grasslands as carbon stores could actually turn our properties into income-producers instead of money sinks.
Members were challenged to actively support the Committee and not to stop at saying “Thank you – Committee,” for work done!
The Chair Report ended with a quote from environmental activist, Paul Hawken: “Don't be put off by the size of the challenge. Do what needs to be done, don't be put off by people who tell you it is not possible. And only after you've done, check to see if indeed it was impossible!”
A special thanks to Francis and Tanja Gomes of Doornrandje for the use of their spacious venue at North Hills Farm.
(Report and summary of activities. List of Committee members at the end of this newsletter.)
South Africa is among the three most mega-diverse countries on the planet according to the Endangered Wildlife Trust - home to eight distinctly different biomes: Forest, Savanna, Grassland, Subtropical Thicket, Succulent Karoo, Nama Karoo, Fynbos and a small area of Desert.
The Conservancy falls mainly in the Grassland Biome. The term ‘grassland’ creates the impression that the biome consists only of grass species. In fact, it is a complex ecosystem, including rivers and wetlands, where only one in six plant species is a grass - the bulk being bulbous plants.
The Conservancy has been chosen as one of seven pilot sites in Gauteng for the Biodiversity Stewardship programme. This programme offers landowners participation in different degrees, ranging from a basic Biodiversity Stewardship contract to becoming part of a Protected Environment or even a proclaimed Nature Reserve.
Mercia Komen of Doornrandje has taken on the task of explaining these options and benefits to local landowners and to assess how much support exists for these stewardship options. She has addressed a series of meetings in Vlakfontein, Riverside Estates, Hills and Dales, Doornrandje and Hennops River.
“The first step is very basic,” she says. “Landowners sign a form indicating their willingness to have a biodiversity assessment done of their property. Depending on the outcome, they will be approached to decide which of the Stewardship options best suits them: a Stewardship agreement with the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD), becoming part of a Protected Environment or possibly, part of a Nature Reserve.
“Key people have already signed the assessment form and important linkages across the Conservancy are forming. I am available to meet anyone who is interested and would like to find out more. Info can also be found on the resident's website, www.rnc.za.net ”
Sunday, 22 August
Ride the Rhenoster Mountain Bike Ride
Saturday 11 September
|30 km and 16 km routes. R200 per rider. Info and bookings: www.ridetherhenoster.co.za|
|West Rand Astronomy Club. Venue: Bonathaba Farm, Hills and Dales.
Cost: R50 pp, kids free. Conservancy members and Associate Members: R30.
Saturday 18 September
|Luxury bus tour to historical places in the Conservancy. Limited seats. R300 pp. Contact Dalene van der Merwe: 074 117 4358|
Wildflowers & Succulents of the Magaliesberg & Gauteng
Saturday 9 October
A talk by Judd Kirkel for the Rhenosterspruit Nature Conservancy and the Magaliesberg Biosphere. Judd is a seasoned traveler, keen botanist and entertaining speaker.
Photographs by Judd Kirkel of wildflowers in habitat will also be exhibited and offered for purchase.
Sunday 10 October
|Presented by Nigel Fernsby (past chair: Gauteng and Northern Regions Bat Interest Group).
Venue: Fourwheel Drive Club of SA, Gemstones Road, Doornrandje.
Contact Dalene van der Merwe: 074 117 4358
|Led by Prof George Bredenkamp and the Botanical Society of SA
Sustainable & Holistic Building Design and Retro-fit Courses
14 August - Solar power course
28 August – Strawbale building course
4 September – Rammed earth construction course
InSynch Training Centre, Hills and Dales, RNC
The Muldersdift Show – Donkey Derby! Sunday 15 August.
Horse Show, Music, Fire Dancing, Potjie Competition, Fun Dog Show, Maplotter Gladiators!
IAIAsa 2010 Annual National Conference: 23 – 25 August 2010
Venue: CSIR Convention Centre, Pretoria
Theme: INTEGRATING ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT
Bridging the gap between environmental planning and development planning
Strategic tools for securing environmental protection
Planning to support a green economy: green accounting
Integrating Environmental Sectors
See website for registration, adverts and booking an exhibition booth at the conference:
Lammermoor Country Fair – Sunday 5 September. Contact Gayle: 082 330 9070.
Several landowners in the Conservancy area and surrounds have had nasty suprises with rates suddenly shooting up because their land-use has been changed without any warning. Some managed to sort it out with Tshwane Council, but only after spending days at council offices.
Fransa Cole (Riverside Estates), Nick Dale (Rhenosterspruit), Corlette Wessels (Vlakfontein), Helen Duigan (Hills and Dales), Dalene van der Merwe, Janine von Zeuner and Niko Knigge (Doornrandje); Sue Hatfield (Roodekrans).
Portfolio Members: Karen Schimmel (Hennops River), Steve Panos (Rhenosterspruit), Anthony Duigan (Hills and Dales), Mercia Komen (Doornrandje).