NEETHLINGSHOF NOW A CONSERVATION CHAMPION
The award-winning Stellenbosch estate Neethlingshof is the 23rd winery to become a Biodiversity & Wine Initiative (BWI) Champion. The estate has been implementing an extensive biodiversity and conservation programme for several years now. Developed by master viticulturist Prof Eben Archer who was commissioned to re-plan and replant all the vineyards on the farm, the programme has now largely fallen to winemaker De Wet Viljoen to oversee and execute.
To achieve a better balance between planted areas and natural veld, 116 ha or 42% of the farm has been set aside for conservation. In reconfiguring the lay-out of the farm Prof Archer allowed for islands of indigenous vegetation between the new vineyard blocks connected by corridors.
What no one foresaw was that these interconnected “islands” would create an explosion in the number of mice foraging on the root systems of the vines. To resolve the situation, efforts were introduced to attract natural predators in the form of owls. Vantage posts were erected in all the vineyards on which owls could perch while hunting at night. Given the abundance of food, owls soon established themselves in numbers in densely wooded areas on the farm.
As a result of the environmentally-friendly farming practices, the number of beneficial insects also started to multiply and so did the amount of guinea fowl, for which they are a natural food source, thereby controlling the quantity of insects. The presence of the guinea fowl in turn attracted caracal from the hills of the adjoining conservancy. First spotted in 2008, they have moved into undisturbed wooded areas on the farm where they found safe breeding areas.
A plan to clear invasive alien trees was introduced in 2003 already as part of the programme introduced by the Bottelary Hills Renosterveld Concervancy (BHRC). To date 15 hectares have been returned to natural veld.
DATE DECEMBER 6, 2011
ISSUED BY DKC (DE KOCK COMMUNICATIONS)
FOR CAPE LEGENDS
QUERIES DE WET VILJOEN, NEETHLINGSHOF WINEMAKER, 021 883 8988 OR 082 929 4469
LIZE-MARIE GRADWELL, CAPE LEGENDS MARKETING MANAGER, 021 809 8243 OR 082 452 8208
MARLISE POTGIETER/SONJA BEZUIDENHOUT, DKC 021 422 2690 OR 072 562 5307