WWF Biodiversity and Wine Initiative

Wedderwill is a signatory to the Word Wildlife Fund (WWF) Biodiversity and Wine Initiative, and is one of just 18 of local estates to be declared ‘Champions in Conservation’.

In the narrowest definition, ‘biodiversity’ refers to the variation of life forms within any given ecosystem. But, as human activity has increasingly impacted on natural spaces, the term has become more meaningfully understood as a measure of the health of biological systems. And there’s little doubt that agriculture puts a strain on these systems. The best solution then, is to farm sensitively.

The Biodiversity and Wine Initiative (BWI) aims to help winemakers do just that, encouraging them to protect highly threatened natural areas on their estates. These are regarded as ‘stepping stones’ – or vital green fragments that link the world’s smallest (but most diverse) floral kingdom, the Cape’s fynbos.

The BWI has two levels of participation – a straightforward membership, as well as champion status. Both levels emphasise the need to: eradicate alien invasive plants; develop farm management plans beyond the cellar; and implement sound soil and water management systems. To be declared a champion, however, an estate needs to truly commit itself to the biodiversity project. Wedderwill has done this by:

  • The large-scale clearing of alien vegetation, with the goal of re-establishing 180ha of indigenous fauna.
  • The reintroduction of wildlife species, whose forebears once roamed the Schapenberg area more than a century ago. This part of the estate consists of some 300ha, three times the amount of arable land, and five times the amount currently under cultivation.
  • The clearing of 4ha of wetlands, and 4km of river beds.
  • The planting of indigenous ‘garden pockets’ in underutilised areas. The intention is to diversify the habitat for insects, and other organisms – keeping them away from the vines. More birds are also attracted to the estate as a result.

To find out more, visit www.wwf.org.za.

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