Our Projects

Through ongoing work to clear alien vegetation, the conservancy now has more than 550 hectares of unspoilt Renosterveld, while dedicated community programmes and projects address the socio-economic challenges of the people living and working on the farms within the BHRC.

Alien Clearing

The sustainable management of the Renosterveld centres on the clearing of invasive trees such as Eucalyptus, Port Jackson, Black Wattle and Rooikrans. These tree species pose a threat to biodiversity as they consume precious water, much needed for endemic plants to flourish. They also create sterile soil conditions, inhibiting plant growth that supports the Bottelary ecosystem. Alien clearing is subsidized by the income from the BHRC MTB trial and funding from LandCare, a community based and Department of Agriculture supported programme.

Through ongoing work to clear alien vegetation, the conservancy now has more than 550 hectares of unspoilt Renosterveld, while there has also been a notable difference in water streams flowing again and the natural re-establishment of Renosterveld plant species.

Community Development

Dedicated programmes and projects address the socio-economic challenges of the people living and working on the farms within the BHRC.

Following the listing of the Cape Winelands Biosphere under UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MaB) in 2007, the conservancy aligned its vision and objectives with those of the MaB Programme. UNESCO’s MaB programme is regarded as an exemplary instrument to achieve sustainable development, and is endorsed by Stellenbosch Municipality, the Winelands District Council, Western Cape Provincial Government, as well as National Government. It provides the framework within which the BHRC gives effect to its constitution, which reads: “To maintain and build out the remaining portions of Renosterveld in the Conservancy area and to launch projects and to support such projects in the best interest of the Conservancy and its inhabitants.”

In April 2016 the BHRC appointed Anna Oppel, a retired primary school headmistress with extensive experience in social development management in the public and private sector. As the community development coordinator, Anna is responsible to direct and implement programmes and projects to address the socio-economic challenges of the people living and working on the farms within the Conservancy.

The initial focus of our Social Development Programme has been on child and youth education and employment.

Do and learn programme

The ability to read is an important and foundational skill for learning. Through our interaction with the local schools we established that poor reading and literacy skills are the key stumbling blocks in the primary school learners’ inability to learn and progress successfully through the grades.

To address this need within BHRC the respected “Doen and Leer” Numeracy and Literacy Programme was implemented in partnership with the ATKV and “Vriende of Afrikaans” and funded by the Stellenbosch Municipality’s Grant In Aid Fund.

Through the implementation of this programme we have developed additional skills and capacity for teachers within our schools and created learning opportunities for deserving unemployed people on our farms. We have also seen a remarkable improvement in the Afrikaans reading and writing skills of our primary learners and Grade R learners now have a head start in terms of phonics and sight words when they start Grade 1. It furthermore supports the development of language and listening skills, the cognitive abilities of children.

Kay Mason programme

Our community development facilitator, Anna Oppel works closely with the local schools to identify promising young scholars that could potentially qualify for the Kay Mason Foundation (KMF) programme.

Since 1999, the KMF has identified promising young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and given them a chance to change their own futures. Their vision is to ensure access to quality education and equal opportunities for all – building a nation of positive leaders.

The Kay Mason Foundation provides talented, under-privileged scholars access to quality education, psycho-social support and life opportunities that build tomorrow’s leaders of families and communities, South Africa and the world.

Successful Gr 6 applicants have to commit to attending a year-long programme of weekend classes and submitting important documentation throughout the year, which forms part of the selection process. Two learners from the BHRC have secured scholarships for Grade 8.

Youth Employment

Youth unemployment is a crisis in South Africa, and the youth on South African farms is part of this challenge. In the BHRC we have started to address this challenge by focusing on youths on our farms that are committed to take responsibility for their careers and lives. In this process Anna touched the lives of several youths on our farms, worked closely with them to secure part-time- or full-time employment, and we have seen how they positively inspire others to take up opportunities presented to them. Meet some of our young achievers:

  • Paulina Mouers (Groenland) – business management at Boland College with a NSFAS bursary.
  • Rowena Barry (Bonfoi) – frail care course at Bergzicht.
  • Chantal Kondlo (By Den Weg) – Educare training.
  • Elwin Stevens (Bonfoi) – chef’s diploma at Stellemploy Training Centre.
  • Bianca du Toit (Goede Hoop) – Community health training at Health and Welfare SETA.
  • Alfonso Williams (Goede Hoop) – completed chainsaw training and is involved with alien clearing and MTB trail maintenance as part of the Trail Blazers team.

Trail Maintenance

Keeping our 92km trail network in good shape is an ongoing endeavour.  The mission of the BHRC is primarily to preserve and grow the existing Renosterveld in its area and no funds go back to the landowners that so generously give us access for the trails.  Revenue generated through permit sales is allocated to trail maintenance and alien clearing. 

Not only do the trails receive streams of traffic throughout the year, but farm activities and seasonal cycles add to the to-do list. Brush trimming, building run-offs, cutting away fallen trees, servicing tracks, repairing crossings and ruts and replacing damaged signage are all in a day’s work.

The Trail-Blazers team has been involved since the inception of the trails and is currently playing a part in skills development and job creation in the BHC employing local youths.

Our vision is to establish local trail maintenance teams to attend to specific sections of the route close to where they stay.   A couple of local youths have been identified for training.  We are hoping to secure funding for training, equipment and transport in order to get a pilot project off the ground in 2021.