Conservation at Work is the umbrella body for all conservancies and conservation minded landowners of the Western Cape. Once known as the Western Cape Conservation Stewardship Association (WCCSA), the association recently underwent a process of re-branding which led to the renaming to Conservation at Work (C@W).
Very little of the Western Cape is formally protected and with a lot of land in the hands of private landowners, these landowners have a very important task to help safeguard the valuable biodiversity of the Cape. There are over 6000 plants that are endemic to the Western Cape and as inhabitants of these areas, we are custodians of many vulnerable species of fauna and flora. It is not an easy task to protect these species and thus there is a big need for conservancies and other non-profit environmental bodies like C@W to assist landowners with this major task.
After the formation of The National Association of Conservancies/Stewardship South Africa (NACSSA) in 2003, the need for a branch in Western Cape was identified, and WCCSA (Western Cape Conservation Stewardship Association) was constituted in 2004. Since this association was mainly driven by volunteer landowners with busy schedules it lacked sustainable impetus. In 2011 the association received funding from the Table Mountain Fund to employ an external contractor, NCC Environmental Services, to compile a business plan and implementation model in order to assist the association create a sustainable foundation, where it provides value-adding services and support to its members. I am currently acting as the Project Manager of this association. A new committee was chosen at the end of 2012 and each member given a suitable portfolio where they can best add value to this association. We are also partnering with CapeNature, Fire Protection Associations, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Department of Agriculture to further strengthen the role of this association.
Conservation at Work encourages the sharing of conservation knowledge between conservancies and partners. Various proposals have been submitted for project funding as it is one of the association’s aims to access funding and assist members with conservation related projects. The University of Stellenbosch recently approached Conservation at Work to help them find suitable research sites for conservation post-graduate students. The research findings on these properties will in turn be made available to the landowners.
On 7 and 8 February 2013 we will host a workshop led by the MAPA Project in collaboration with Conservation at Work, to teach practical tools which organisations and individuals can use to map, visualise and share information about conservation efforts on private land. This mapping workshop is open to all members of Conservation at Work free of charge. In September 2013 the Cape Fox Adventure Race will take place as a fundraising event. This is a stage race that will take place through different conservancies in a format similar to the Amazing Race. This race will give conservancies the chance to showcase their conservation efforts to the general public and give contestants a chance to challenge themselves physically while experiencing the beauty of these areas. All funds raised with the race will go towards the conservation work on these farms.
If you have any questions, ideas or would like to get involved with Conservation at Work, please contact me firstname.lastname@example.org or check out our Facebook page or website www.conservationatwork.co.za that is up and running and serves as a platform for members and non-members to access and share valuable conservation information.