BTE Renewables owned Excelsior Wind Energy Facility in South Africa has partnered with the Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust (ORCT) for the joint objectives of conservation and protection of the rare flora of the area, including the important and critically endangered species it supports. The company says partnership signifies its firm commitment to industry-leading biodiversity and environmental management programmes.
“Our partnership with ORCT forms part of the various initiatives we support under our environmental stewardship banner, a key focus area of our overarching sustainability strategy,” said Libby Hirshon, BTE Renewables’ Sustainability Director.
While linked to biodiversity and overall environment management, BTE Renewables’ Excelsior Wind Energy Facility has committed funding to the ORCT that has an added socio-economic development benefit, through skills development support. The support, in the form of funding a three-year internship programme, was identified as a need by the ORCT.
The internship has been provided to a graduate conservation student, seeking on-the-ground experience, recognising that in general, finding practical experience that they can rely on to launch themselves into the conservation field is a challenge for many Conservation graduates. As with other fields, conservation graduates seek work opportunities in South Africa, but because of a lack of actual experience, they struggle to find a job.
“We believe that funding the ORCT internship serves multiple purposes from an impact perspective as it has provided a promising student this opportunity, feeding into our commitment to youth and livelihoods development. But importantly, it also links to our environmental stewardship commitment as it facilitates ORCT to operate more effectively and also educate and host school children and other visitors to the Haarwegskloof Renosterveld Reserve, amongst other important research, marketing and monitoring activities. We are incredibly proud that through this initiative, we are able to support both socially and environmentally positive objectives,” concluded Hirshon.
The Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust (ORCT) exists to secure the long-term conservation and management of the remaining fragments of threatened natural lowland vegetation in the Overberg region of South Africa. This is undertaken through active partnerships with landowners, conservation authorities and NGO’s thereby improving the overall quality of farms, sustainable livelihoods and landscapes. ORCT consists of a small team of passionate and highly qualified people and is governed by a small Board of Trustees and run on a day-to-day basis by the Director of the Trust.
Snapshot of Excelsior Wind Energy Facility
The 33MW Excelsior Wind Energy Facility in the Western Cape stands on 2300 hectares of land in Swellendam, an area known as one of the largest agricultural producing areas in the country. By the very nature of wind power, over 90% of the land on the site will continue to yield agricultural crops, as well as sustain livestock farming.
Working in collaboration with conservation organisations, this wind facility is pioneering the wind industry’s approach to conserving avifauna. The programmes that are being implemented go beyond looking at the potential impact of their wind farm on birds through mitigation, but are also aimed at a net gain in priority species.