The aspiration to have this area secured for conservation has come a long way.
Serious efforts in the early 90's brought landowners together behind a dream to protect and preserve a pristine landscape. The dream was scuppered, but the Rhenosterspruit Nature Conservancy, Oori Game Farm and the Roodekrans Game Reserve survived to pay triibute to that dream.
More than two decades later, landowners are applying once again. But this time, others have noticed the ecological value too.
The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) has identified this area for inclusion in Protected Areas. The National Strategy for Expansion of Protectd Areas flagged the region east of the Cradle of Humankind as sufficently intact and ecologically important to be protected (2008).
Following later, SANBI identified threatened ecosystems nationwide, three of which occur right here. (Gazette notice first published in 2009, and finalised in 2011)
These findings are backed by scientific methods, and confirm what landowners have known all along: this is a special place worthy of conservation.
In February 2012 Biodiversity Agreements will be concluded with Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. These agreements will provide firm and clear indications of willingness to move toward Nature Reserve and/or Protected Environment status.
More than 200 landowners made formal commitments by signing the Biodiversity Stewardship Agreements. This was a sufficient response to persuade the authority we could "capture" a wide enough area to make Nature Reserve a viable option. We are grateful to the landowners for setting the process in motion. We have demonstrated an earnest and sincere desire in this region to benefit from “in perpetuity conservation”.
The Biodiversity Agreement were between State and Landowner, one-on-one. That is not our dream. So the Agreements are shelved, and we start a new phase in which Landowners sign a commitment to EACH OTHER, elect a management structure, and that structure is empowered to apply for
Nature Reserve and enter into an agreement on the management of the Nature Reserve.
As at September 2012, this is our Process:
- Agreement to proceed with the Nature Reserve - an “in-principle” YES or NO
- Consider and comment on a Constitution that spells out our shared vision and how we realise it
- Adopt that Constitution through a vote - one vote per land portion
- Appoint from the landowners the management structure that will take the actions needed to realise our Vision
- Sign an agreement allowing that management structure to do what is needed to proclaim the Nature Reserve
- Sign with each other a commitment to incorporate our land into the Nature Reserve
- Choose the kind of activity that you would like to enjoy on your property, for example –
- Complete privacy. No entry to outsiders.
- Income share from paid-for access for selected activities (controlled numbers, selected appropriate activities)
- Recreation or tourism operation e.g. guest house
- Work with the management structure to support/develop/market the activity you desire, and signoff on the applicable “zones”, trails and access within the Nature Reserve.