Retzia capensis (in the endemic family Stilbaceae) represents an ancient group of angiosperms.
Brunia stokoei is a member of the family Bruniaceae, and is an endemic of the Kogelberg in the Western Cape. Contrary to earlier opinion, fynbos flora did not radiate from an ancient ‘southern’ flora, but rather from the families that were already well established in Africa. Ecological changes opened up new habitats, and evolution did the rest. There are several ‘Gondwana’ taxa in the Cape flora – such as Podocarpus and Widdringtonia, and South Africa shares several families, such as Proteaceae and Restionaceae with Australia, but these families evolved after the drifting apart of Gondwana, and probably indicate dispersal across narrow seas between the continents at an early stage of the break-up. The hottest hot spot of them all Forty-four per cent of the world’s biodiversity is found within 25 hot spots identified by Conservation International in 1998. The Cape Sugarbird is endemic to the Cape Floral Kingdom.
Cheap Trips To Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden Photo Gallery
In 1992, at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, world leaders gathered to define a new strategy to save the diversity of life on planet Earth. The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) approved a suite of major global programmes to address problems of biodiversity loss, desertification and climate change. The outcomes of the meeting – popularly know as the ‘Earth Summit’ – provided South Africa with a unique opportunity to align its new national policies and legislation in the post-1994 law reform programme. As a result, South Africa has, today, one of the most advanced, comprehensive, and sophisticated series of environmental laws to be found in any country.
A key agreement signed at the 1992 UNCED is the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The Convention defines biodiversity as ‘the variability among living organisms and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems’. The Convention’s objectives are ‘the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilisation of genetic resources’. It is these concepts that underpin global, regional and national conservation strategies around the globe today.
Important to South Africa was the financial mechanism established at Rio to assist developing countries to meet the objectives of the CBD. Known as the Global Environment Facility (GEF), it has contributed, since 1996, over $150 million to biodiversity conservation projects in South Africa – the majority of these within the Cape Floral Kingdom
But even with GEF resources, the challenges of preventing the extinction of the world’s diversity of life will require not millions, but billions of dollars. Focus is needed: ‘the problem is very big, the fuse is very short’, in the words of Tom Lovejoy, Amazon scientist, conservationist and a champion of the fynbos. It was another fynbos admirer, and regular visitor to Kirstenbosch, Norman Myers, a British environmentalist specialising in biodiversity, who came up with an interesting proposal to speed up the rescue of the ‘sinking ark’.
In a paper published in 1988, Myers identified 10 global ‘hot spots’ – sites within the most threatened, but biodiverse, tropical rainforests – where the biggest ‘bang for the buck’ could be achieved in terms of species protected from extinction. The concept of hot spots was immediately embraced by a new organisation, Conservation International, led by Russell Mittermeier, another Kirstenbosch friend. In 1998 Conservation International identified 17 ‘mega-diverse’ countries in which two-thirds of global biodiversity was found – and later identified 25 hot spots in which 44 per cent of the world’s vascular plants occur in only 2 per cent of the world’s land area. Today, 34 hotspots are recognised, with no fewer than three of these in South Africa – the Cape Floristic Region, the Succulent Karoo, and the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany Hotspot.