We fully realize that healthy natural ecosystems around us are not only the measure of our own ecosystem health, but that our survival and future survival depend on their existence.
Of the land owned and hired by ZZ2 only about 10% is suitable and available for cultivation. The remainder is either too mountainous, or devoid of water for irrigation. For generations the policy has been to conserve the natural fauna and flora in these areas. In the mid 1990’s, a first for several large nature reserves (conservancies) were identified for particular protection and game-fenced, some in collaboration with neighbours.
The resulting 25 000 hectare game areas are protected and the surplus game is culled on a cost recovery basis by a team of nature conservators.
Huge mountain areas in the Eastern and Western Cape, Limpopo and Namibia are only passively protected against intruders, poachers and fire. This we feel to be the natural duty of the custodians of this land. Natuurboerdery®, however, implies more than conventional nature conservation.
The large conservation areas and green belts amongst fields and orchards serve as a feeder area for fauna and flora. We wish to responsibly utilise the environment in which we work by applying resources in a conservational and sustainable way. We wish to manage nature sustainably and to conserve the diversity of our natural and cultural heritage and in doing so, encourage symbiosis. Conservation areas have been created at ZZ2 to preserve biodiversity. Independent experts carry out environmental analyses from time to time to ensure minimal environmental impact. Streams, dams and green belts are maintained amongst fields and road shoulders as ecological havens for indigenous fauna and flora. Ecological services are provided for Natuurboerdery® such as natural enemies against pests, pollinator sand wind breaks. Intruder plants are actively eradicated in these natural areas. Many birds and other wildlife (including raptors) have returned to these areas.
Since 2004 our nursery includes a department for growing indigenous trees, which are planted to restore disturbed greenbelts between our farming activities.
Wiam Haddad, ZZ2 ecologist with an endangered aloe species in the Mooketsi valley.
Greenbelts and iconic trees in farmlands are carefully protected – not only for ethical reasons, but for the quite physical benefits of working in harmony with nature.
Ecosystem services provided by these greenbelts include wind breaks, erosion barriers, pollinators and natural enemies of pests.
Policy with our orchards and land is to keep “problem animals” out, not to kill them off. This fencing is more expensive than a few bullets, but enables us to maintain our wild areas as complete ecosystems, and not sanitised areas.
Combatting invasive species such as Sekelbos, Seligna and Wattle has been ongoing to protect our mountain water catchment, but also results in restoring the rare and unique indigenous mountain grassland and forests of the Wolkberg.
Since 2016 we have an internal EIA Committee which has to assess and approve any new operation in natural veld even where official EIAs are not required.
A full botanical survey of the Koedoes rivier basin and catchment area was conducted, with an herbarium which is kept at the Natuurboerdery® Centre.
ZZ2 is involved in the management of four conservancies in Limpopo: They are Cordier, Munnik, Bloemtuin and Wilgebosch. At Cordier 30 km borders onto tomato fields and the ecological benefit in terms of insect control is obvious. In this conservation area in the Mooketsi region, we control bush densification.
The project involves taking out invader bush species with the help of the local community who then sells the wood for kindling. Other ecological control measures include a fire programme and the re-introduction of wildlife. The three conservancies on the Highveld, Munnik, Bloemtuin and Wilgebosch are managed in partnership with local communities. All three conservancies are considered water catchment areas and do not support agricultural activities. Lodges have been established on two of the conservancies.
The following wildlife can be found collectively in these conservancies: bush pig, bushbuck, baboon, blue wildebeest, brown hyena, buffalo, blesbok, duiker, eland, reedbuck, gemsbok, cheetah, jackal, giraffe, kudu, klipspringer, leopard, nyala, impala, rooihartbees, caracal, steenbok, warthog, ostrich, waterbuck, zebra and various birds of prey.