The most diverse of the world’s six floral kingdoms…
Extract from City of Cape Town Enviroworks Newsletter:
Cape Town’s biodiversity – unique and irreplaceable
Cape Town is known internationally as a biodiversity hot spot without equal. It is set in a ‘natural garden’ with over 3 000 different plant species. However, the ‘garden’ is vanishing before our eyes as the city grows at an alarming pace. What makes our city unique is that it has such a high concentration of plant species that occur only here (also called ‘endemic species’). Cape Town is located within the Cape Floral Kingdom (CFK), the smallest yet most diverse of the world’s six floral kingdoms (and the only one to be confined to a single country).
The CFK contains half of South Africa’s total biodiversity in only 4% of the country’s surface area. There are more than 9 000 species in this region, 80% of which are fynbos plants, and most of which are endemic. Around 2 400 are threatened, and another 300 species are critically endangered.
False tiger moth (Agaristidae family) on a yellow daisy We know of 29 plant species that are now officially extinct in this region – which means that not only have we lost something of beauty, but we have also missed out on an opportunity to use these plants for other potential (as yet undiscovered) purposes. In the City of Cape Town area, we have 3 250 plant species. (That is 30% of the species that are found in the CFK in less than 3% of the CFK’s surface area.) Of these, 319 are threatened, and 13 species are known to be extinct already.
Further unique features of Cape Town are the national park within our city’s boundaries (Table Mountain National Park), our world-renowned national botanical garden (Kirstenbosch), and more than 30 nature reserves and natural areas. Cape Town’s nature reserves – precious pieces of living treasure – are linked by roadside verges, commons and indigenous gardens, to form a Biodiversity Network together with the Table Mountain National Park and several provincial and private reserves. Find the full newsletter here