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Rewilding the Wellness Quarter Gardens at Pezula Nature Retreat

The location of Pezula Nature Retreat on the Eastern Headlands of Knysna, falls within a critically endangered vegetation type, the Knysna Sand Fynbos. This type of Fynbos only occurs in patches between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay.

Building, landscaping with a range of exotic and non-local indigenous species, the planting of many trees and the creation of ponds and wetlands has left very few areas in a natural Fynbos state.

In Knysna we have over 2,000 locally indigenous species, and a few endemics. Plants endemic to a small geographic area are mostly rare, for example the Knysna Butterfly Bush (Muraltia knysnaensis) listed as endangered, and the Harkerville Porcelain Flower (Acmadenia alternifolia) listed as vulnerable.

“Our aim with rewilding is to selectively remove exotic and non-local species and to replace them with species that occur naturally in the area, planting these in the artificially created habitats which would resemble their natural habitats, such as Fynbos, Wetlands and Forests. We have selected, sourced, and will propagate more than 200 species to introduce to the gardens”, says Nanna Joubert, the horticulturist working on the rewilding project.

As part of this process, it is also good to allow nature to rehabilitate itself. Allowing plants to self-seed and allowing other species to establish. Training of staff to understand and learn the difference between a weed (an exotic pioneer species that outcompetes local species) and local pioneer species which will create a habitat for other species to establish.

Environmentally rewilding will increase biodiversity, some of the species are also useful and can be used as cut flowers or for their scent. For guests – it will create variety and interest, appealing to the senses and will provide an experience that is truly local and bringing them in touch with their own wild side.

Knysna Vegetation Types


  • Knysna Sand Fynbos – Critically Endangered
  • Garden Route Shale Fynbos – Endangered
  • Southern Outeniqua Sandstone Fynbos – Vulnerable
  • Goukamma Dune Thicket
  • Cape Seashore Vegetation
  • Cape Estuarine Salt Marsh
  • Southern Afromontane Forest