To start with we have to say that the reserve is not named after us, but after my father and uncle Denis and Gerry Simson, and Johan’s Mother and father, Ray and Jack Simons. It is about 300 hectares in size and corresponds with the wild land of both Dragonridge and Sonkop mountains. It has of course all manner of flora and fauna, and certainly when we arrived, was in pretty pristine condition in terms of vegetation.
From the moment of arriving here we wanted to protect this wild land, so when Arnelle Collison and her team from Cape Nature Conservation, approached us about turning this land into a contract nature reserve, we were delighted. A contract nature reserve is the top level of biodiversity agreement made by a combination of Province, Cape Nature Conservation and ourselves, and written into our title deeds. What this means is that while we don’t give up control of the land, we lay down certain protective measures, such as there being no development on the land, no hunting or removal of flora etc. Of course it also means we have to take care of the land in terms of erosion and fire control and alien clearing.
It was a long process to put the reserve in place First with Cape Nature we had to survey, measure and decide upon the exact area to be included. Then we worked out a complex management plan, and finally we submitted it to the bureaucracies that be, to get it properly sanctioned and gazetted. It was this last part that took a good 5 of the 7 years about which we shall say not more . Finally once through we had a hell of a bash on the farm to mark the event.
Since then the work goes on. Cape Nature audits the reserve yearly and despite itself being strapped for cash, has wherever possible helped with alien clearing as has PSI ( Paardeberg Sustainabillity Initiative ) Wherever possible NGOs such as Working for Fire and Working for water have been used.
None of it would have happened without Arnelle Collison from Cape Nature who has worked tirelessly for our reserve and for other conservation areas. She is an extraordinary person who in her quiet and friendly way has made enormous changes to conservation here and elsewhere . We salute her and are happy to have her as a friend.