Do you realise just how special our backyard really is? Facts about The Cape Floral Kingdom

Written by Catherine Clulow

All too often we take for granted what’s right under our noses. Today we share some facts to remind us just how special our backyard really is. The facts shared in this blog are from SANBI Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, a wonder to visit to enjoy our amazing biodiversity and natural heritage.

So what is a Floral Kingdom? Floral Kingdoms are the largest natural units for flowering plants. Regions that share the same combination of plant families form part of the same floral kingdom. There are six Floral Kingdoms in the world: Holarctic, Neotropical, Palaeotropical, Australian, Cape and Antarctic.

What is so special about the Cape Floral Kingdom?

  • It is the smallest of all the Floral Kingdoms.
  • It is the only Floral Kingdom to fall completely inside the borders of a single country.
  • It occupies about 90,000 square kilometres: Only 0.04% of the surface area of the Earth.
  • It contains nearly 9,000 species of flowering plants: About 3% of Earth’s species.
  • Two out of three species in the Cape Floral Kingdom are endemic to this area, meaning they occur nowhere else on Earth. This is the highest level of endemism in the world.
  • The Cape Floral Kingdom is a UNESCO World Heritage Site owing to its unparalleled ecological diversity.

The Fynbos Biome is a part of the Cape Floral Kingdom. Fynbos is one of its main vegetation types.

What’s so fine about Fynbos?

  • Fynbos is the vegetation that is found growing naturally on the mountains and lowlands of South Africa’s Cape Floral Kingdom and is unique to the area.
  • The name comes from the Dutch ‘fijn’ and ‘bosch’ meaning fine bush, referring to the very small leaves and flowers of many of the species.
  • Fynbos constitutes 80% of the vegetation of the Cape Floristic Region/ Cape Floral Kingdom.
  • Fynbos is characterised by the presence of three main plant families: Restios, Proteas and Ericas, as well as seven other plant families that only occur in fynbos.
  • It’s amazingly diverse, and exceptionally rich in species, and occupies a relatively tiny area of land of similar size to Portugal and Malawi.
  • Over 7000 species occur in 41 000 km2, and 80% of them occur nowhere else on Earth.
  • The Cape Peninsula alone has 2 600 species, more than the total number of species in the British Isles, in an area smaller than London.
  • Comparing species diversity with other heathland communities in Australia and California, and with the rest of South Africa:

Cape Floristic Region/Cape Floral Kingdom: 94 species per 100 km2

Australia: 14 species per 100 km2

California: 12 species per 100 km2

The rest of South Africa: 8 species per 100 km2

Marvel in the Cape Floristic splendour, how can you not? Appreciate and safeguard our amazing biodiversity. We live in a truly special place and need to remember that and remind each other from time to time.

King Protea (Catherine Browne, Botanical Society of SA)
©Catherine Clulow

The Botanical Society of South Africa (BotSoc) is an NGO focusing on biodiversity conservation and awareness and environmental education and for over 103 years has been working with passionate partners and people to conserve the natural heritage and flora of Southern Africa. BotSoc’s mission is “ To win the hearts, minds, and material support of individuals and organisations, wherever they may be, for the conservation, cultivation, study and wise use of the indigenous flora and vegetation of southern Africa, for the benefit and sharing by all”. Find out more about BotSoc here and consider joining the BotSoc family.

Go out and learn about, appreciate and enjoy The Cape Floral Kingdom and be proud of it!

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In a nutshell: South Africa’s National Strategy for Plant Conservation

Written by Catherine Clulow

As signatory to the Convention of Biological Diversity, South Africa is dedicated to a national strategy to safeguard plants aligned with the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation. South Africa is in a prime position to make a significant impact to global plant conservation as we have 6% of the world’s plant diversity and strong botanical and conservation capacity. This blog aims to spread awareness about the strategy and its importance, as well as the role BotSoc is playing in its implementation.

Over the past two years the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and the Botanical Society of South Africa (BotSoc) have worked together with South African botanists and conservationists to develop this strategy. The South African National Strategy for Plant Conservation (NSPC) includes 16 outcome-orientated targets, which if well-implemented will lead to the improved conservation of plants.

Due to South Africa being megadiverse and facing unique challenges, the global targets were altered for the development of South Africa’s strategy. The targets were altered in such a way that they are attainable and relevant in the South African context. The targets range from documenting conservation status of plants, to conservation in situ and ex situ. There are targets tackling the threat of alien vegetation and a range of targets addressing the sustainable use of plants.

The strategy ends with targets focusing on its implementation and increased awareness and education about plants and the need to conserve them. Each target is nationally relevant and aligned with activities identified by the South African National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP). South Africa’s Strategy for Plant Conservation is available here.

South Africa’s Strategy for Plant Conservation has 5 objectives that outline the 16 Targets to be implemented by 2020.

These objectives are:
1. Plant diversity is well understood, documented and recognised;
2. Plant diversity is urgently and effectively conserved;
3. Plant diversity is used in a sustainable and equitable manner;
4. Education and awareness about plant diversity, its role in sustainable livelihoods and importance to all life on earth is promoted;
5. The capacity and public engagement necessary to implement the strategy have been developed.

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BotSoc has been directly involved in assisting in editing this strategy and are committed to the implementation of specific targets 14, 15 and 16.

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Target 14: The importance of plant diversity and the need for its conservation incorporated into communication, education and public awareness programmes.

Target outcomes for 2020

– Plant conservation included in the life science curriculum across SA

– Plant conservation awareness expanded by exposure to botanical gardens and by involving the public in citizen science projects

– Plant conservation promoted in relevant media

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Target 15: The number of trained people working with appropriate facilities sufficient according to national needs, to achieve the targets of this strategy.

Target outcomes for 2020

– Conservation courses offered in SA’s universities aligned with skills needed in the field of plant conservation

-Work place mentorship opportunities available in plant conservation programmes

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Target 16: Institutions, networks and partnerships for plant conservation established and strengthened at national, regional and international levels to achieve the targets of this strategy.

Target outcomes for 2020

-A South African network for plant conservation effectively implementing and updating the NSPC.

-Working groups for each target ensuring that specified outputs are being achieved.

Through BotSoc’s activities and partnerships we aim to contribute to the implementation of these targets and successfully achieve the outcomes laid out in the strategy. In doing so, we will be playing our vital and attainable role, and contributing to the greater scheme of safeguarding South Africa’s rich and unique floral heritage, as laid out in the NSPC.

Over the next few years stories of the NSPC implementation and of outcome-oriented activities will be shared. Each of us can play a role in highlighting the importance of conservation to others and sharing what we have learnt about the strategy and outcome news stories as they become available.

Numerous environmental entities, bodies and individuals are involved in driving the activities of this living and dynamic document, and the successful implementation of the strategy outcomes. Through collaborative efforts we can and will make a difference to safeguard biodiversity for all.

Sneak peek at the 10 SANBI National Botanical Gardens

Written by Catherine Clulow

So I bet you’ve heard of Kirstenbosch right? And perhaps the garden(s) in your region, but many people are not aware that there are in fact 10 National Botanical Gardens managed by BotSoc’s partner the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). Each garden gem offers something special and each and every one is well worth a visit. What’s more, as a BotSoc member, you are afforded the benefit of free entrance into all 10 gardens (with presentation of your valid BotSoc membership card), so head on out and explore. Each garden offers endless opportunities of learning, enjoying and engaging with nature.

Here’s a sneak peek at the 10 SANBI National Botanical Gardens (NBGs): Find out where they are and what they offer and pop in to explore and enjoy them when you are next in the area.

1. Free State NBG – Bloemfontein

On the fringes of Bloemfontein this garden extends between picturesque dolerite koppies. An experience not to be missed.

2. Hantam NBG – Nieuwoudtville

Take your time to enjoy the array of flora and fauna that call Hantam National Botanical Garden home. The first National Botanic Garden in the Northern Cape.

3. Harold Porter NBG – Betty’s Bay

Situated in the heart of the coastal fynbos where the flora is at its richest, extending from mountain slopes to the coastal dunes of the Overstrand district, this garden is renowned for their waterfalls and amber pools. The inspiration behind the gold medal-winning RHS Chelsea Flower Show this year.

4. Karoo Desert NBG – Worcester

An exceptional gem, this garden displays a wide variety of South Africa’s desert and semi-desert plants at the foot of the Hex River Mountain range. The garden showcases a large succulent collection and is most popular to visit when the annuals and vygies are in bloom during Spring.

5. Kirstenbosch NBG – Cape Town

This world-renowned garden of magnificence on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain is more than just a garden: It is a tourism hotspot, place of recreation, conservation and learning. This garden is also home to the Botanical Society of South Africa’s Head Office and award-winning Centenary ‘Boomslang’ Canopy walkway.

6. KwaZulu-Natal NBG – Pietermaritzburg

This peaceful garden focuses on the conservation of plants from the eastern regions of South Africa and  rare and endangered species from elsewhere.

7. Kwelera NBG – North of East London

The youngest of the SANBI national botanical gardens. Wild and raw beauty awaits and magic is found in the dune forests and surrounds.

Unfortunately this garden is not yet open to the public

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
©SANBI

8. Lowveld NBG – Nelspruit

This garden is characterised by two rivers crossing, the Crocodile and Nels Rivers. Remarkable waterfalls and an African rainforest containing captivating vegetation from the coastal belt as well as Limpopo Province, are only a glimpse of what’s to be seen and enjoyed.

9. Pretoria NBG – Brummeria

This urban oasis offers a pristine getaway situated in the eastern suburbs of South Africa’s administrative capital. A 35 metre high quartzite outcrop divides the garden into two sections offering visitors two worlds to explore. This garden is also home to the SANBI head office.

10. Walter Sisulu NBG – Roodepoort

Voted the best place to get back to nature in Gauteng for the past nine years: This garden is an escape in the middle of the city. A breathtaking waterfall, outdoor gym, fascinating Black Eagle project, children’s area, restaurant, and birding opportunities make this a must visit.

Roots of Sustainability Garden- come see us at the CT Flower Show (*Giveaway up for grabs*)

Hello readers. You may or may not have heard yet that The Botanical Society of South Africa (BotSoc) will be participating in the unmissable Cape Town Flower Show at the Castle of Good Hope 27-30 October 2016.

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BotSoc have collaborated with Metro, and brought partners Reliance on board to bring visitors an awesome show garden at the Cape Town Flower Show this year- the Roots of Sustainability Garden– where we’ll be showcasing easy and effective ways to harvest rainwater and irrigate your garden, as well as tips for being water-wise and choosing indigenous plant options. There will be a variety of inspiring ideas on creating your perfect water-wise garden and making indigenous plant choices. View your roof in a whole different light and make your home sustainable.

Water is a scarce and dwindling resource, and South Africa is a dry country with unpredictable rainfall and an ever increasing demand for it. As the demand for this precious resource grows, so will its price along with legislation discouraging excessive use. It is, therefore, important to garden for the future.

Water-wise gardens cut down water usage but are still beautiful and, as there are so many indigenous options to choose from, water-wise gardening should be the norm.

Metro Roof|Solar|Electric, Reliance and BotSoc all fully support this notion and so have collaborated to participate in this year’s CT Flower Show to demonstrate to the general public tips and ideas on how to garden water-wise and sustainably. Visit our Roots of Sustainability Garden at the show (Garden 11), where we hope to educate and inspire. Be sure to pick up our brochure on 7 principles of water-wise gardening too.

We will highlight energy harvesting methods and water-wise gardening tips.

You can also find out all about BotSoc membership and add to your collection of natural heritage books at the BotSoc Bookshop. They will be located in the exhibitors’ hall and are sure to have an array of spectacular choices available, including authors from some of the CT Flower Show workshops and presentations. A great spot to get a gift and/or to spoil yourself with a book, BotSoc membership and/or a goodie or two.

Please remember to bring your plastic as the event is cashless, using WAP only. For all visitor information, please read here.

*WIN WIN WIN*

Stand the chance to WIN 2 TICKETS to the Cape Town Flower Show! Trust us you don’t want to miss out on this event. There’s something for everyone!

How to enter:

Simply comment below what the Metro/BotSoc/Reliance Roots of Sustainability Garden will be highlighting to visitors.

Terms and Conditions:

  • This prize may not be won by any staff member of BotSoc or their direct family members or any associated companies to the Cape Town Flower Show.
  • The prize is redeemable at the complimentary ticket counter at the Castle of Good Hope and valid for one day’s entrance only.
  • Giveaway entries close Wednesday 19th October 2016.
  • Please note that you can only enter once and the winner will be chosen by random.org. We will contact you via email and your name and contact will be shared with the CT Flower Show organising team to ensure you’re on the guest list, and they’ll get in touch with you regarding redeeming your tickets.

Best of luck! And if you don’t win, no need for FOMO, you can get your tickets here or at the door.

Follow, like and engage with the BotSoc family on Facebook and Twitter. Find out more about and engage with the lovely folk from Reliance on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram. Engage with the sustainable Metro team on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you and see you there. It’d be great if you could share this blog with others so they to can stand a chance to win.

 

 

 

Another successful treasure hunt with CREW: The rediscovery of Polhillia ignota

Written by: Ismail Ebrahim (CREW) & Catherine Clulow (BotSoc)

So it’s Heritage month and ‘Proudly South African’ is a slogan we are all familiar with. It is a slogan for our rainbow nation and we epitomise it with our multiracial and multicultural society. Living in a beautifully diverse country full of potential and wonders it’s difficult not to boast. South Africa is recognised for its uniqueness, assortment of ethnic and cultural backgrounds and distinct wildlife and astounding biodiversity.

Be proud of your natural heritage this Heritage month, spread the word about it and take action to protect it.

South Africa supports a vast biodiversity of over 20 456 plant species, making it the only country in the world with its own plant Kingdom.

As South Africans, we are responsible for safeguarding our magnificent ecosystems and species rich environments for our future generations as well as the rest of the world to enjoy and be bewildered by.

Who are CREW?

CREW are the Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers. Their work forms part of the SANBI Threatened Plant Species Programme and are also a close partner of BotSoc.

In 2003, CREW was born through the initiation of inclusion of a ‘citizen science’ programme to enhance botanical research with the then National Botanical Institute (NBI), now known as the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI).  Through the magic of Citizen Science CREW uses volunteers from the general public to contribute to research and monitoring. CREW prides itself on the monitoring and evaluation of South Africa’s threatened plants and with the assistance of citizen scientists has been able to make great strides in the IUCN red listing assessments in terms of the country’s diverse plant families.

CREW’s work is important in determining which plant species need to be prioritised for conservation purposes. They operate across the country and are continually looking for volunteers to assist them. You need not be a specialist botanist but just a passion for plants and a basic plant identification skills are all that is needed to get involved. Is this something that appeals to you? Get in touch! (See contact at the bottom of this blog).

Many of the plants found by CREW have not been seen in years, so finding them is extremely exciting. We have recent news from the CREW team that a thought-to-be-extinct plant has been found! YIPPEE!

Another successful treasure hunt with CREW: The rediscovery of Polhillia ignota.

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Polhillia ignota © Ismail Ebrahim

The Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers (CREW) programme has rediscovered another long lost species. Polhilla ignota was known from only two collections made in 1909 and 1928 in the Porterville and Saldanha areas respectively.

This species was discovered in April 2016 on Marasmodes Day, which is an annual botanical event run by the CREW programme to find populations of species belonging to the Marasmodes genus (a small highly threatened genus of plants in the Asteraceae family). At this time the plants were not in flower and we required flowers to confirm the identification of the species. On the 9th of September CREW staff and a group of volunteers went to collect flowering material of the species.

The plants are found on farm Goede Hoop near Eendekuil. The area has been largely transformed but there are a few remnants of natural veld that has not been ploughed because they are too steep or rocky. Only 13 plants were recorded on this site. Specimens collected were taken to the Compton Herbarium and confirmed by Dr Stephen Boatwright.

This is an extremely exciting discovery as this species was thought to be extinct at the historical localities. Many searches for this species have been conducted in the Saldanha and Porterville with no success. This new population is a significant range extension for the species and this means that the status will change from Extinct to Critically Endangered. We also found new populations of Diplosoma retroversum and Cheiridopsis rostrata, which are two very rare vygies which occur at the same site.

Acknowledgements: We would like to thank the CREW funders: SANBI, BotSoc and the Mapula Trust for supporting the programme; Dr Stephen Boatwright for confirming the identification; Marius Wheeler from Cape Nature for liaising with the landowner; and CREW volunteers Brian Du Preez, Richard Adcock, Chris Browne, Sediqa Khatieb and Patrick Fraser for helping to find and monitor the population.

Want to get in on the action?

If you are interested in joining CREW, please contact Suvarna Parbhoo (KZN) or Ismail Ebrahim (Western Cape) and they can put you in contact with your nearest CREW group(s). Become a member of the Botanical Society of South Africa (BotSoc) and share your passion of plants and their conservation, read more about BotSoc membership here.

Happy Heritage Month! Proudly South African today and always!

 

 

The power of collaboration: #greeningcecilia

Written by Catherine Clulow

We wanted to share this inspiring story to encourage action and involvement in making a difference, because each and every one of us can.

Earlier this year, a BotSoc member, Paul Cartmel contacted The Botanical Society of South Africa with an exciting idea. Here’s the overview of his story: he decided the traffic and commute to work was not all that pleasant and took up cycling to work when feasible. Somewhere along the line he had a thought to track his travel and put aside R1/km to give back to the environment, another individual sponsored him as well. The long and the short of it, this small initiative landed Paul with a few thousand rands which he then offered to donate to the BotSoc to be directed at planting trees in the Cecilia Forest area, an area Paul and friends and family particularly enjoy frequenting.

Paul Cartmel, BotSoc member: “ With global population growth being an exponential problem, we need exponential solutions. Raising funds for this initiative as a Capetonian was a no-brainer, as a nature lover it’s great to give back and we hope to inspire others to contribute to the solutions too. It’s exciting to be active, to get a feel for and be involved in the tree planting and I look forward to showing my children these trees one day.”

And it’s that simple, that’s how it all started. One keen member, one individual with an idea and passion and the initiative spiraled from there. BotSoc engaged with Table Mountain National Park, who manage the area, and planning began. Further funds were donated to the cause and partners and volunteers came on board to join in.

Reliance Compost donated compost and some trees. Funds were used to purchase over 600 indigenous trees, mainly from the Kirstenbosch production nursery, but others were received from the Reliance nursery as well as another local nursery.

Great people, partnerships and passion made it all possible and on Wednesday 22 June 2016 over 60 individuals from different organisations and walks of life came together and worked side by side to plant over 600 indigenous trees in the Cecilia Forest area of the Table Mountain National Park.

Anthony Hitchcock, Nursery Manager and horticulturist at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden: “Great to be working with SANParks and BotSoc to restore the natural vegetation on the slopes of Table Mountain.”

Staff members from SANParks; BotSoc; SANBI Kirstenbosch;  Reliance Compost;  New Media Labs; together with volunteers from Miss Earth South Africa; friends and family members and even some hikers who stumbled upon the event, worked together planting trees for the future. Dirty hands, smiling faces, warmed hearts were all evident in that valley and that’s the power of collaboration.

Restoring the area to its original vegetation composition of Fynbos and forest and the clearing of alien invasive  trees such as gums and pines are an ongoing focus of the SANParks teams. Initiatives such as this lend a helping hand towards making a difference. I think this was an awesome project, don’t you?

If you’ve been inspired by this story, please share it with  others too and consider following our blog. To find out how you too can become a BotSoc member, click here, we’d love to have you join the BotSoc family.

The BotSoc mission reads below and this initiative speaks directly to fulfilling it.

BotSoc’s mission: To win the hearts, minds and material support of individuals and organisations, wherever they may be, for the conservation, cultivation, study and wise use of the indigenous flora and vegetation of southern Africa, for the benefit and sharing of all.

This project also links directly to Targets of the South African National Strategy for Plant Conservation  and we are so proud of working in collaboration with others in support of achieving these goals. Read more about the National Strategy for Plant Conservation here.

We hope this story brightened your day and inspires you too to take action for the environment.

Until next time…