WWF South Africa welcomes five new farms into its prestigious Conservation Champion programme that recognises environmental leaders in the Cape winelands. Conservation Champion farms are committed to regenerative farming practices, including conserving natural systems and biodiversity on their land and optimal water and energy efficiency.
The five farms to have joined the programme in the past six months are:
- Anthonij Rupert Wyne (Franschhoek)
- Journey’s End Vineyards (Somerset West)
- Mooiplaas (Stellenbosch)
- Nederburg Wines (Paarl)
- Tierhoek (Robertson)
In exchange for their commitment to nature and adhering to WWF’s high standards, Conservation Champions may use the distinctive sugarbird logo on their wines to guide environmentally concerned consumers in their purchases. WWF also supports these farms by co-developing detailed environmental management plans, setting tangible targets and helping them to prioritise actions to address their most pressing environmental risks.
Among the five new members, Mooiplaas has a long history of engagement with WWF. It was the first farm to sign up to the original Biodiversity & Wine Initiative (BWI) in the early 2000s. This was at a time when the wine industry was expanding rapidly into highly threatened habitats – and spurred a partnership between the conservation sector and the wine industry as custodians of the land. Over time, BWI evolved into today’s Conservation Champions which are recognised for the leading role they play in showing the way forward for more environmentally friendly farming practices.
Welcoming the newcomers to the fold, Shelly Fuller, manager of WWF’s Fruit and Wine programme, commented: “Our 45 Conservation Champions are proof that progressive farming practices and regenerative farming go hand in hand. We are delighted to welcome these newcomers into our ranks and look forward to more exciting innovations which promote farming in harmony with nature in our uniquely biodiverse corner of the world.”
Many of these farms have had an economic knock during the Covid pandemic due to multiple lockdowns and bans on the sale of alcohol, but there are many safe activities to be enjoyed on the farms, from mountain biking to hiking, picnics and outdoor dining. To find out more about what is on offer download the Champion Wine Guide app here: http://championwineguide.co.za
MORE ABOUT THE FARMS
Anthonij Rupert Wyne
This estate manages over 300 ha of its land as a pristine nature reserve encompassing sandstone cliffs, riparian forests, as well as mountain and lowland fynbos. The estate nurture’s its water systems that feature a beautiful seasonal waterfall, streams and flood plains where you’ll find a thriving habitat, not only for red-listed species such as the Cape violet (Charadrophila capensis), but also for mammals such as leopards, Cape foxes, caracal, honey badgers and porcupines. The estate’s operational processes include staff awareness training, recycling and biological farming practices and there are plans to further enhance the current generation of 20% green energy, using hydro and solar systems, to full capacity.
Journey’s End Vineyards
Journey’s End Vineyards was taken over by the Gabb Family in 1996 with a focus on ethically and sustainably producing excellent wines for all occasions. As the most southerly farm in the wider Stellenbosch wine region, Journey’s End makes use of the unique micro-climate created by the mountains, sea and ‘Cape Doctor’ wind. Journeys End actively conserves critically endangered Swartland Shale Renosterveld and vulnerable Boland Granite Fynbos. They plan to restore areas where vineyards have been uprooted by sourcing indigenous plant species. The vineyard was the second in South Africa to convert to solar power. Since September 2020, the foundation has funded and provided 213 867 meals to those in need via a network of soup kitchens.
As a Conservation Champion, Mooiplaas will implement an environmental management plan that includes the management of the 81 ha – one third of their total land – which consists of critically endangered Swartland Granite Renosterveld. Owner Tielman Roos registered the Mooiplaas Private Nature Reserve in 1995 and played a key role in establishing the Bottelary Hills Renosterveld Conservancy in 2002. Mooiplaas is also an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts with mountain biking and a scenic 5.6 km circular hike with 360-degree views.
Nederburg was granted Conservation Champion status because of its exceptional water stewardship measures amounting to water savings of up to 40%. The estate has invested in sophisticated water consumption measurement tools and water management in their vineyards. The team has also worked diligently to rehabilitate streams and drainage lines that run through the farm. Recycled water is used for the cooling tanks in the cellar and water-wise cleaning regimes are rigorously followed to eliminate water wastage. Rain-water harvesting has been stepped up and filtered effluent water is diverted to irrigate the farm’s extensive gardens.
Tierhoek Organic Farm and Cottages, at the foot of the Langeberg mountains, is where Bruce and Alison Gilson, along with their Tierhoek team have followed a path of sustainability and conservation since 1998. Their process of organic farming has focused on building soil health, conserving water use and using environmentally friendly systems such as bio-diesel production and solar power for energy, grey water systems and their electric golf-carts. Clearing of alien blue gums in the riverbed is done annually, with the attention now moving to the pine and hakea spreading in the mountains. Their fruit drying business is preservative and sulphur-free, working with other local farmers to minimise fruit waste during harvest. For guests, there are several trails into the mountains where they can experience the flora and fauna of the area. Tierhoek Organic Farm is also a proud member of the Rooiberg Breede River Conservancy.