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‘Renosterveld’ as rare cultural heritage treated with controlled fire

Recent flames and smoke on Linton Park Wine Estate at the foot of the beautiful Groenberg mountains outside Wellington near Cape Town surprised many local inhabitants of this town.

Herman le Roux, the commercial director, emphasised that Linton Park is privileged to host approximately 2% of the world’s rare and threatened ‘Renosterveld’.

The name ‘Renosterveld’

He elaborated: “The origin of the name ‘Renosterveld’ is a fascinating story with various historical accounts. We at Linton Park accept the version ascribed to Cape governor Willem Adriaan van der Stel who in 1699 granted the original De Slange Rivier farm to the French Huguenot Louis Fourie for agricultural development. It is told that during a visit to the farm, he compared the specific piece of veld with its unique and grey-coloured ecology to the skin of a  rhinoceros, or in the Afrikaans language ‘renoster’. The name and description ‘Renosterveld’  originated from that and believe me, when that piece of veld looks at its best, the name fits the description and is 100% on target!”

Why treatment with controlled fire?

“Through our commitment to the environment and nature conservation with this rare eco-sensitive and threatened piece of land, we have certain essential measures in place to ensure its ongoing maintenance and sustainability. Consequently, we can prevent invasive plants and other elements that could extinguish this precious piece of cultural heritage, which was often the case elsewhere. One of the most important preventative measures is that the veld should be burnt about every 15 years in autumn as the best time of year to stimulate new growth of rare plant species.

We decided on the recent controlled fire on the recommendation of and in consultation with the Departement of Agriculture, Landcare and Cape Nature. Furthermore, the local Fire Brigade and WOF (Working on Fire) monitored the fire. After the fire, further monitoring of 36 hours was in place to ensure that most risks were under controlled supervision. The burnt area also included the ‘Renosterveld’ of Bosman Family Vineyards, our neighbouring farm.”

Cultural heritage and Rhino preservation

Mr. Le Roux apologised if any institution or person in the Wellington environment was inconvenienced by the smoke of the essential fire treatment of Linton Park’s ‘Renosterveld’.  “However, we can not allow that this rare cultural heritage and ecosensitive piece of veld also disappear. We trust that the public will understand and support us in this. Our involvement with this conservation reality led to our Rhino wine range and also our commitment to the saving of rhinos in Southern Africa by donating R1 of every bottle sold annually. We were fortunate that during 2016 and 2017 Linton Park – in co-operation with Hugo Rust Primary School in Wellington and the wonderful support of the public and the media at large – raised approximately R 200 000 for this purpose. We once again extend our sincere thanks to all!”