Conservation, Biodiversity and Social Responsibility

Cederberg Private Cellar is involved in many projects and initiatives. These projects, some of which are still in their infant stages, include relationship building with several schools, the workers’ project, the Waitrose Foundation initiative and the Dwarsrivier Children’s Trust. Attending to the legal and administrative side of these projects takes up a lot of time.

Dwarsrivier farm – where Cederberg Private Cellar is situated – is surrounded by what is known as the Cederberg Wilderness Area. CapeNature (http://www.capenature.org.za) is the custodian of this protected area, known as a the Cederberg Conservancy. Nineteen landowners joined forces with CapeNature to set up the Conservancy. Cederberg Private Cellar is one of eight landowners whose property borders on the Wilderness Area.

THE CEDERBERG CONSERVANCY
The Cederberg Conservancy (http://www.cederberg.co.za) constitutes a voluntary agreement between landowners and the provincial government to manage the environment in a sustainable manner. This is achieved by means of environmental management plans, ecological auditing, co-operation and dedication to the conservation of nature on private land.

The area consist of 84 800 ha of provincial land and 109 913 ha of privately owned land, which is used for agricultural and tourism purposes. A vast area of the privately owned land is unspoilt. Altogether, the area comprises 194 713 ha – less than 10% of this land is ‘used by man’. The Conservancy is a very important link between the coast and the Karoo in the Greater Cederberg Biodiversity Corridor (http://www.cederbergcorridor.org.za).

The Cederberg Conservancy was established on 20 October 1997. One of the many reasons why this conservancy is still going strong is possibly the fact that it was built on the basis of a strong tourism association. This association was formed in the early 1980s and winemaker David Nieuwoudt’s grandfather, Oom Pollie, was its first chairman. The organisation included farmers in and around the centre of the mountain range, while the ‘old’ Cape Nature Conservation and the Department of Forestry were major role-players. When the organisation was formed, it was way ahead of its time. Today the Conservancy consists of 19 members who meet every third month to address issues such as the management of leopards, fire protection, cedar tree restoration, tourism, fish conservation, recycling and re-use.

THE CEDERBERG WILDERNESS AREA
Dwarsrivier farm lies on the border of the Cederberg Wilderness Area (http://www.capenature.org.za). A wilderness is an area big enough to allow natural processes to take place unhindered. It must be a place that provides a spiritual, therapeutic, aesthetic, cultural and historical experience, and where the water, land and air are free of any pollution.

The Cederberg Wilderness Area stretches from the Middelberg Pass at Citrusdal in the south to the Pakhuis Pass behind Clanwilliam in the north. It encompasses about 72 000 ha of rugged, mountainous terrain. To the east, the 12 000 ha at Matjiesrivier Nature Reserve is situated on the drier eastern boundary of the Cederberg mountains. This area was proclaimed in 1995 with the assistance of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-SA) and includes the famous Stadsaal rock formations and some excellent examples of San rock art.

Geologically, the Cederberg is part of the Cape fold belt and consists mainly of Table Mountain sandstone. Weathered sandstone formations, most notable at the Wolfberg Arch and the Maltese Cross, are typical of the Cederberg. These mountains fall within the Cape fynbos region and are managed as a catchment area. The Wilderness Area also forms the core of a leopard management area that was established in 1988.

BIODIVERSITY & WINE INITIATIVE (BWI)
When Wines of South Africa (WOSA), the international marketing arm of the SA wine industry, announced a biodiversity programme (http://www.bwi.co.za/index.asp) in 2004 – seven years after the Cederberg Conservancy was established – Cederberg Private Cellar was sceptical. Why? Because we were old hands at this. But on the evening of 1 August 2005 Cederberg Private Cellar joined this initiative. Currently (28th of Febraury 2012 ) enlisted in the Biodiversity & Wine Initiative (BWI) are 24 champions, 17 producer cellar members and 175 members. This means a total of 284 individual farms have BWI status. The total area conserved among all the members and champions is 131 399 ha, which represents 130% of the total vineyard footprint in the Cape winelands; i.e. for every hectare of vineyard, 1.3 hectares are conserved.

To become a member of WOSA’s BWI, a farm must undergo an official process to declare the ‘used’ water that leaves the cellar ‘clean’. A cellar can also apply to become a champion. Cederberg Wines became a champion in 2010.

When Cederberg Wines joined BWI, it was the farm – and possibly still is – that ‘donated’ the biggest stretch of unspoilt land to the project. Today Dwarsrivier farm comprises 5 500 ha, of which only 200 ha are used for farming, everyday living and holiday purposes. Ongoing projects involving schools, the Conservancy and the farm staff contribute to caring for nature.

THE GREATER CEDERBERG BIODIVERSITY CORRIDOR (GCBC)
Wines of South Africa’s Biodiversity & Wine Initiative (BWI) championship status is similar to another initiative in which the farm is involved.

CapeNature, together with the Cape Action for People and the Environment (CAPE) established the Greater Cederberg Biodiversity Corridor (GCBC) (http://www.cederbergcorridor.org.za). The aim of the GCBC is to establish a link between the low-lying coastal area in the west and the Tanqua Karoo in the East (http://www.cederbergcorridor.org.za/map.html). There are seven similar corridors in South Africa. Dwarsrivier farm is one of the initial four members in the eastern part of the GCBC.

THE CAPE LEOPARD TRUST
The Cape Leopart Trust (http://www.capeleopard.org.za) is a brave project that originated in the Cederberg Conservancy. The project is run by Quinton Martins and his team. It has grown in leaps and bounds and now includes areas like the Gamkaberg area, Kammieskroon and Namaqualand. At present Quinton is seen as a pioneer as far as research regarding the Cape mountain leopard is concerned. The aim of the initiative is to understand the biology and behaviour of the animals. By doing so, the conflict between stock farming and conservation can be managed and minimised.

FLORA AND FAUNA
The two primary vegetation types on the farm are Sandstone Fynbos and Succulent Karoo. Succulent Karoo vegetation grows in shale, while Cederberg Sandstone Fynbos thrives in Table Mountain sandstone. Other conservation projects in the Cederberg include the Succulent Karoo Ecosystem Programme (http://www.skep.org.za) and the conservation of reptiles and amphibians. Apart from this website, many other sources such as magazines and other websites (e.g. http://www.cederberg.org.za/cederberg_wildlife.html) contain a wealth of information on this topic.

WIDDRINGTONIA CEDARBERGENSIS – THE CEDAR TREE
The Clanwilliam cedar is one of three indigenous South African cedar species. Only four cedar species are found in Africa – three in South Africa and one in Malawi. Widdringtonia cedarbergensis is endemic to the Cederberg, growing only in areas at 800 to 1 400 m above sea level (http://www.plantzafrica.com/plantwxyz/widcedar.htm).

European settlers began stock farming in the Cederberg in the 18th century. In 1876 a forester was appointed to oversee crown land in the mountains. This was possibly the first attempt at conservation in the Cederberg. From 1903 to 1973 exploitation of the Cederberg’s natural resources was rampant. Large amounts of cedar wood, rooibos tea, buchu and Rockwood bark was harvested, while farmers used the mountains to graze livestock in times of drought. Large numbers of cedar trees were felled as the wood was in great demand for construction – about 7 200 trees were used as telephone poles between Piketberg and Calvinia. Fires added to the destruction and the cedar tree is now on the brink of extinction. In 1967 the removal of dead cedar trees was halted. Other forms of exploitation ended in 1973 with the proclamation of the Cederberg Wilderness Area. During the last few years, attempts to plant saplings in their natural habitat have created awareness of the endangered status of the cedar tree among concerned nature lovers and visitors to the Cederberg.



Cederberg Private Cellar
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