We believe in sustainability
What we do
The Nuwejaars Wetland SMA is rehabilitating its key areas and cultural features. More
Enhancing the wellbeing of all who live here is an imperative for the SMA. More
Our tourism venture will include training for operators and entrepreneurs. More
Production and food security is enhanced through sustainable use of land. More
Sustainably-utilised products will prove a key
economic driver for communities here.
By developing the SMA's infrastructure, we can
unlock the area's sustainable capital.
The Nuwejaars Wetland Special Management Area (SMA) is an area in which 25 private landowners and local communities work together to collectively manage our land for conservation.

Through this unique conservation model, some 46,000 hectares of often critically endangered habitat is now protected on the Agulhas Plain - at the southernmost region of Africa. The primary goal of the Nuwejaars Wetland Special Management Area (SMA) is to protect - and use - the land included in the Special Management Area sustainably, according to triple bottom line principles. We aim to find the balance between environmental integrity, human wellbeing and economic efficiency within the area.

While biodiversity and wetland conservation is promoted, so too are sustainable farming practices. As such, farming and conservation work hand in hand. Endangered plants and animals are protected. At the same time, food security from farmland in the Nuwejaars Wetland Ecosystem is not threatened.

This collaboration between landowners and local communities is the first of its kind in South Africa. It required significant commitments from all landowners and communities involved. All had to agree to title deed restrictions to ensure sustainable conservation principles would be maintained. Already the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has expressed its interest in the Nuwejaars Wetland Special Management Area (SMA), as a working example of its Man and the Biosphere programme.
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- Restore wetlands and other often-threatened habitat through rehabilitation and alien-clearing;
- Promote the wellbeing of all who live within the broader area;
- Promote the sustainable use of biodiversity products to benefit all;
- Promote diverse uses of the wetlands, natural habitats and intensive agricultural activities;
- Promote sustainability in all forms of agriculture;
- Manage the land and manage fire;
- Address climate change;
- And encourage tourists to visit the Agulhas Plain's unique sites.
The SMA's objectives
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We're so excited to have spotted the Spider Orchid (Bartholina burmanniana) on the Nuwejaars Wetland SMA. They're not listed as endangered, but they're difficult to spot, and usually only flower for a few weeks between August and October. Great to have conservation-savvy members!
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The Nuwejaars Wetland Special Management Area's role includes to care for the animals living within the area's 45,000 hectares. Bontebok - once critically endangered - are also found here. Protecting the animals includes moving them when they're ill, so that we can actively monitor them. This bontebok was ill, but thanks to our local vet Marnus Smith and game capturer Chris van Schalkwyk, it was recently moved to the buffalo boma, where it could be treated more easily.

In the early 1900s, fewer than 20 bontebok remained in the world. Farmers in the Bredasdorp region, including ancestors of members of the Nuwejaars Wetland SMA established the Bontebok National Park in 1931, in order to save the animal from extinction. Today the SMA is home to around 100 bontebok, of the approximately 1500 mature individuals that occur in the natural distribution range. Bontebok are considered Near Threatened.

The main threat to the Bontebok today is the hybridisation with Blesbok, with Blesbok now occurring more frequently in the areas where Bontebok occurred naturally. Bontebok are assessed as pure through DNA sampling (as seen in the video).
Bontebok on the Nuwejaars Wetland SMA took a healthy interest in a pair of Blue Cranes and their two chicks during a routine SMA game check - only to be chased away by the concerned parents.
Caring for our bontebok