Cape Town celebrates World Biodiversity Day 2011

In celebration of World Biodiversity Day and our unique and irreplaceable biodiversity, the City of Cape Town will be hosting various Youth Environmental School (YES) programmes during the month of May.

Sanctioned by the United Nations, International Day for Biological Diversity is held every year on 22 May to raise public and political awareness of the significance of biodiversity for human well-being. 2011 has also been declared the International Year of Biodiversity, adding special significance to this year’s celebrations.

The YES programmes will all revolve around environmental education and biodiversity and will involve over 6 000 learners from Cape Town. The programmes will feature visits to the City’s nature reserves, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, education on local fauna and flora, nature walks and visits to Intaka Island.

Biological diversity represents the national wealth of the earth, providing the basis for life. However, biodiversity is currently diminishing at an alarming rate. Essentially we are erasing nature’s hard drive without even knowing what data it contains. By providing an outdoor classroom we hope to create a passion for understanding our invaluable natural resources and to instil important conservation values in learners at a young age.

The Cape Floristic Region is richer in plant species than any other site of the same size in the world, with 70% of its plants being endemic to the area. Faced with many challenges including invasive plants, agriculture and urbanisation, over 1 700 of these species are threatened with extinction.

To date the City of Cape Town has set aside over 30 areas within the metro boundary to be managed as nature reserves in an effort to protect its unique biodiversity. Schools are encouraged to visit these reserves throughout the year.

Further attempts to secure the City’s unique biodiversity include the Bionet Implementation Alliance, a partnership aimed at encouraging private landowners to set aside land for conservation purposes. Conservation-worthy public land has also been identified for eventual proclamation under the Protected Areas Act.

These efforts, together with a number of private, Provincial and National reserves in the region, contribute towards conserving biodiversity heritage for our and future generation’s enjoyment. Managing our urban biodiversity would not be possible without the support of all Capetonians.

The media are invited to attend the following YES Programme Events:
Where: Bracken Nature Reserve
Contact: Tshepho Mamabolo Tel: 021 982 1323
Activity: Biodiversity presentation and nature walk
When: 27 May 2011, 09:00 to 12:00

Where: Zandvlei Nature Reserve
Contact: Mark Arendse Tel: 021 701 7542
Activity: Biodiversity activities
When: 28 May 2011, 09:00 to 12:00

Where: Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, Goldfields Environmental Education Centre
Contact: Ask for Sally Hey or Roleen Ellman in the EE centre (SANBI) Tel: 021 799 8670
Activity: Hands-on activities and fieldwork pertaining to biodiversity
When: Programme runs every day 09:30–12:30 from 25 to 27 May. The Kirstenbosch Annual Biodiversity Day Event will be held on 24 May from 09:00 to 13:15

Media enquiries:
* Clifford Dorse, Bionet Implementation Alliance and Biodiversity Issues : Biodiversity Coordinator Environmental Resource Management Department, City of Cape Town, Cell: 083 440 1751
* Esmay Swarts, Youth Environmental School (Yes): Yes Programme Coordinator Environmental Resource Management Department, City Of Cape Town, Cell: 083 237 4418