THE SCHAPENBERG CONSERVANCY


The Schapenberg-Sir Lowry's Conservancy, home to 650 - 750 fynbos species, was initiated by the Helderberg Conservation Forum (HCF) and private landowners in 2000, with the vision to promote awareness and preservation of the natural environment on the Schapenberg hills and adjacent mountain slopes. Founder members were Karibia, Wedderwill and Onderkloof. The Conservancy with the participation of 15 landowners comprises more than 1600 ha, and under guidance of CapeNature was registered in 2003. The Conservancy lies on the outskirts of Somerset West along the Schapenberg hills, and incorporates the lower slopes of the Hottentot's Holland Mountains up to Sir Lowry's Pass and includes CapeNature's Hottentot's Holland Nature Reserve.

The Schapenberg is granite pluton 600 million years old. These granite foothills below the Hottentot's Holland Mountain range support Boland Granite Fynbos (an endangered vegetation type) and Swartland Granite Renosterveld (critically endangered). The slopes above Somerset West have borne the brunt of intensive agriculture for over 300 years and in more recent history, intensive forestry. This has lead to a proliferation of invasive alien vegetation and the loss of natural vegetation and impacted on water flow of the Sir Lowry's River. One of the main objectives of the Conservancy has been to protect the indigenous flora and of the region, including the threatened and fragmented renosterveld. The City has recently proposed and mapped biodiversity corridors across the Schapenberg. These lie between the farming areas and if preserved, will provide ecosystems for the continued survival of the highly threatened fynbos as well as associated bird species, numerous mammals (Cape Fox, caracal, Cape Hare, porcupine, African Wild cat, large and small spotted genet, large and small grey mongoose, Cape clawless, otter, grysbok, steenbok and duiker), reptiles, tortoises and insects, etc.

Agriculture in the area is mainly wine/vine farming with Wedderwill Wine Estate and False Bay Winery (Waterkloof) Biodiversity and Wine Initiative champions. Other wine farmers are considering joining the initiative with the view of creating a Schapenberg/Sir Lowry's biodiversity wine route. The guided Biodiversity and Wine walks on the Schapenberg will showcase the fabulous wine and natural vegetation of the region and to educate as to the importance of the need for sustainable conservation and biodiversity enhancement.

Proceeds from the walk and outside funding will assist members achieve the Conservancy goals.

Contact us for more information.


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