Boschenbach Private Game Reserve
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Boschenbach Conservation

When F.S. Breytenbach saw this struggling rooibos tea farm 15 years ago, he had a vision of nurturing this biodiverse land back to its floral glory. This unique part of the Cederberg mountains get the misty air from the sea in the mornings. The fynbos and renosterveld is characterized by its richness in plant species (8700 species) and high endimicity (68% are confined to the Cape Floral Kingdom). The landscape in the region is a mosaic of deep sands and rocky areas with shallow soils.

Rooibos is grown only in the West Coast region of South Africa, and especially in the sandy soils of the Sandveld. The species-rich natural vegetation in these areas are forms of Sandstone Fynbos (in rocky areas) and Sand Fynbos (in sandy areas), and these are fire driven vegetation types. Rooibos farmers are understandably scared of fire, and consequently try to prevent any wildfires from spreading, and certainly don't take any controlled fires in old veld as many of their forebears did. Previous generations were typically mixed stock and cereal farmers, and to improve grazing the farmers often burnt the old veld to stimulate the growth of grasses and to get rid of the woody shrubs. But the lack of fire in areas with natural vegetation is most obvious today. The fynbos may appear to be in fairly good condition, for up to 40-50 years after a fire, but thereafter some species die of old age. Even if they release their seeds into a densely vegetated landscape, the chances are that the seeds will not germinate, as they will be eaten by rodents. Those that do manage to germinate will struggle up through dense, mature vegetation and may not have the resources to compete with mature vegetation. This can lead to the extinction of species. Wild-harvested Rooibos, where the tea comes from bushes growing naturally in amongst a diverse fynbos landscape and not in commercial, sprayed monocultures. Consumers should make an effort to source this sustainable, wild-harvested Rooibos tea.

This is obviously a very important project to preserve this unique part of our planet, especially reintroducing the big game species. The rehabilitation of the veld has been remarkable.