Our Story

Welcome to the Bottelary Hills Renosterveld Conservancy (BHRC) where private landowners strive to preserve the beautiful Bottelary Hills and its endangered fauna and flora species.

What started out as one man’s passion to preserve the less than 4% Renosterveld in the Western Cape, resulted in a non-profit conservation community that formed The Bottelary Hills Renosterveld Conservancy. Members contribute by following sustainable farming and wine production practices through the adoption of biodiversity guidelines by the South African wine industry.

The late Stevie Smit (fondly referred to as Oom Stevie and remembered for his enthusiasm for life and nature) was the driving force behind the Bottelary Hills Renosterveld Conservancy. He spent his life farming in the area and also co-founded the Stellenbosch Wine Route. Nature conservation was his calling and in 1980 he proclaimed a portion of Koopmanskloof Estate a private nature reserve for the preservation of endangered vegetation on his farm.

The plight of Renosterveld has been much documented. Unlike Fynbos, which grows in poor soils, Renosterveld grows in very rich fertile soils. As a result most of it has been replaced with vines and other commercial crops. Less than 4% of the original Renosterveld in the Western Cape remains.

Concerned landowners together with Cape Nature Conservation initiated a conservation program to protect the remaining vegetation, rehabilitate sensitive areas and reintroduce species lost to the area. The Bottelary Hills Renosterveld Conservancy was founded in 1992 and encloses the Bottelary Hills situated on the northern fringe of Stellenbosch.

Oom Stevie served as chairman of the founding committee and was actively involved until his passing in 2008 – the same year the BHRC received its non-profit status. (Registration number: 063-324-NPO).

The area is valued for its high conservation status, especially for its exceptional diversity and the presence of the critically endangered Swartland Granite Renosterveld.  It is therefore a precious natural asset with international preservation status.

In 1995, Tielman Roos registered the family-owned Mooiplaas Private Nature Reserve, dedicating approximately 70 hectares to the conservation of endangered fynbos species. Tielman is currently chairman of the BHRC committee and Mooiplaas Wine Estate the first WWF (Worldwide Fund for Nature) Conservation Champion in the Bottelary ward of Stellenbosch.

The BHRC committee of elected representative farm owners within the conservancy is mandated to initiate and manage projects and programmes within the conservancy, with the aim to:

  • Ensure the protection of the Bottelary Hills eco-system.
  • Improve the socio-economic circumstances of the people living and working on our farms.
  • Enhance the heritage and culture of the sub-region.
  • Encourage community lifestyles compatible with environmental sustainability.

To achieve the above objectives requires strong and valued relationships with committed farm residents, farm owners, private businesses, university departments, governmental bodies, organisations and other conservancies.

In 2018 a permanent conservancy manager was appointed to direct and manage the strategic and operational priorities of the conservancy on behalf of the BHRC committee.  The conservancy’s financial controls are strictly implemented, and financial statements are prepared annually by PWC Stellenbosch.