Ride the Rhenoster is a fundraising event. It puts money into the conservation coffers. This year - as for the past fouryears - the funds are designated for the process of achieving formal Nature Reserve protection, proclaimed by parliament.
Still no nature reserve status?
Yes, it has been a long process. In March 2015 officials were on site to assess the condition of the ecosystem, check that red data species were still present and being protected, and to confirm earlier studies.
In November 2015 a panel was convened and the panel made the recommendation that three distinct core areas are proclaimed Nature Reserve. Another panel met in February 2017 and there is reason to believe that the formal process will be finalised this year.
What are the costs? Why do the landowners have to pay?
In government, the environmental management function receives less than one half a percent of provincial budgets. Compensation of employees is the largest element in the expenditure in the environmental sector. That means that what (little) funding is available for environmental work goes to staffing and not generally to projects. The most recent Gauteng State of the Enviornment report (2011) concludes that the allocation of funding is "insufficient to address the functions and mandated associated with new legislation".
The landowners here recognise that government resources are inadequate, and that to rely solely on the State to fund formal conservation perptuates short-sighted management of our environment. Cyclists who wish to continue to enjoy an outing in a natural environment that is not too far away from home, are able to contribute to the conservation effort through Ride the Rhenoster.
The entrance fee is R220, and we aim to put as much of that fee into our coffers as possible. People volunteer their time and expenses are kept to a minimum. That means no participation medals. Be in on the secret - its the most fun you can have in Gauteng on your bike!
Making trails available within the region is a practical way to fund maintenance work, and to have organised access to the area. The access has to be limited to ensure the area is not over-used, creating stress on the ecosystems and their natural inhabitants. Riders are asked to purchase entry to the region, and to only use designated trails in the future.
Cyclists have for years used the area for recreation. Sadly, we notice an increase in misuse these days - more litter, more disrespect for closed gates, and use of eroded areas. We trust that formalising the use of the area will allow riders and residents to maintain good relationships!