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Fauna & Flora International launches appeal to save one of the world’s most biodiverse regions

Posted on: 04.10.11 (Last edited) 5 October 2011

Building on the success of the Flower Valley Conservation Trust

Fauna & Flora International (FFI) has launched a global appeal to help protect 125,970 acres of fynbos at the southern tip of South Africa.

The Agulhas plain in the Overberg region of South Africa contains a higher concentration of plant species than the Amazon rainforest. It is one of only five plant kingdoms in the world, and without help to protect this area, it faces destruction.

The appeal seeks to raise funds to secure and protect fynbos areas containing some of the rarest and most threatened plants existing anywhere. According to the Red Data Book (which classifies rare and endangered plants), the fynbos biome contains the highest number of endangered plants in the world, making the conservation of this area vitally important. It is estimated that 25 species have already been lost.

Dr Sandra Knapp, Merit Researcher at London’s Natural History Museum and FFI Council Member said, “For botanists like me, the fynbos area is fascinating. It is the most species-rich habitat on Earth, and is an area where speciation is happening at a rapid rate. This means that the fynbos is an area where diversity of life on Earth is being generated today, making it a key area for the conservation of plant diversity.”

Fynbos – threats to wildlife and livelihoods

Fynbos is a unique habitat that contains over 7,000 plant species, of which 70% grow nowhere else. What’s more, fynbos supports a rich variety of smaller animal species and is thought to contain more than half of South Africa’s frogs.

The high number of species is thanks to a wide variety of sub-habitats resulting from the range of elevations, soils and climatic conditions.

Unfortunately however, fynbos faces numerous threats. Invasive vegetation has overrun much of the Cape Floral Kingdom, while many areas have been cleared to make way for more financially-rewarding crops and vineyards.

The harvesting of fynbos, to sell to local and export markets, is an age-old vocation in the region, with many people now dependent on fynbos for their income.

However unsustainable harvesting of fynbos plants threatens regrowth, and increases the risk of fire and erosion in the area. As a result, the depletion of fynbos fields also threatens those who depend on fynbos for their livelihood.

Ten years ago FFI helped to set up the Flower Valley Conservation Trust which has been working to protect an area of 1,359 acres of lowland fynbos which otherwise would have been turned over to wine production. We now want to expand to other areas which are home to endangered fynbos species.

Please help us to protect this incredible botanical habitat by making a donation today.

Written by
Sarah Rakowski

Sarah is Fauna & Flora International's Communications Officer (Media & Publications). With a BSc in Environment, Economics and Ecology, she has long been fascinated with the challenge of balancing human needs and environmental protection. Whilst at university, Sarah developed a keen interest in marine conservation and conducted an opinion survey into public attitudes towards Marine Protected Areas for her dissertation. Her love of marine conservation also led her to spend a summer conducting ecological surveys on the coral reef off the coast of Andros Island, Bahamas (it’s a tough job…). Since graduating, Sarah has held a variety of communications roles, most recently in the private sector, where she worked as the European PR Manager and Communications Specialist for a leading technology firm.

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Fauna & Flora International (FFI) is a company limited by guarantee, incorporated in England and Wales, Registered Company Number 2677068. Registered Charity Number 1011102
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