Vondeling with Biodiversity and Wine and fire
by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa
In October 2013 we went to Vondeling near Wellington for the WESSA (once was WWF South Africa) Annual Regional Meeting. Vondeling was a proud supporter of the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative and is now a Conservation Champion of WWF.
We had a brief walk along the edge of the vineyards. Diana trailing along last as I revelled in new to me flowers.
Since the 2011 fire they have collected over 900 species on the Paardeberg for their herbarium. Four species are endemic to the area: Babiana noctiflora (flowers at night), Erica hippuris, Oscularia paardebergenis (succulent in the Aizoaceae) and Serruria roxberghii (spiderhead protea). South Africa’s vineyards are in the Cape Floral Kingdom (which includes fynbos and Renosterveld). The CFK has over nine thousand species with many endemics. In 2004 only 4% of the Renosterveld survived.
Evidence of their success in maintaining sustainable habitat is a Cape leopard caught on their camera trap.
The Hantam is our only National Botanical Garden dedicated to conserving Renosterveld.
The Vondeling wedding chapel has enchanting windows. A round one high up with a dove bearing an olive twig. Outside the chapel is a line of olive saplings. Along the length of the chapel the windows are painted in trailing vines.
I was encouraged to hear about young interns, and school teachers – working with the next generation, and the next – wildflowers and Cape leopards in our future.
Colin Bell, author of Africa’s Finest, told us - If we try to hug national parks all to ourselves, we lose it. If we reach out and share, like Botswana and Namibia, we can conserve nature for the future. His ‘responsible, sustainable tourism – what we have termed the Green Safari model. Viable, long-term partnerships are a winning scenario for wildlife, wildernesses and people.’ The ultimate green lodge.
Rocher Pan cottages with composting toilets protecting the seasonal pan and migrating birds, on our one day wish list - achieved in September last year!
Next on our wish list is to see the garden where Ernst Van Jaarsveld (retired from Kirstenbosch) is now based at Babylonstoren. There will be a Waterwise Gardening workshop in February 2018.
Today's post is a distraction from two huge fires. The first started at Sir Lowry's Pass and burnt along the slope between Gordon's Bay and Steenbras Dam. Five buildings lost. Animal Welfare evacuated. The second started at Red Hill. Burnt across the mountain to Scarborough down to the sea. Then turned to Cape Point Nature Reserve. Thanks to our firefighters both fires are under control, and being monitored.
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