Cape Town celebrates World Biodiversity Day

May 22 is World Biodiversity Day, and Cape Town is in the midst of a global hotspot of biodiversity, which is under threat from urban development, alien invasive species and other causes. Our unique Cape Floral Region, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is part of what makes living in and visiting Cape Town a special experience. The protea flower is the best-known part of the fynbos, but there are thousands of species of plants, animals, birds, insects, marine life – in fact, there is more biodiversity within The Table Mountain National Park than the whole of the British Isles or New Zealand! There is so much biodiversity to celebrate just in Cape Town, the mind boggles.

The City issued the following media release about some of the activities taking place, and inviting others to join in the celebrations.

The City of Cape Town’s Biodiversity Management Branch, in partnership with CAPE (Cape Action for People and the Environment) and WESSA (Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa), is hosting an event on World Biodiversity Day on 22 May to celebrate, recognise and thank the Friends Groups and other volunteers who assist the City in the conservation of Cape Town’s unique biodiversity.

“The City would particularly like to thank all of the Friends and local community groups who have made an enormous contribution to the success of the nature reserves in particular, but also to biodiversity within the city. Without Friends Groups and the communities who take ownership, the administration would not be able to maintain high levels of service,” said Mayoral Committee Member for Planning and Environment, Alderman Marian Nieuwoudt.

The City will also launch the second edition of its popular book ‘City of Cape Town Nature Reserves – A network of amazing biodiversity’. This comprehensive and colourful resource showcases the city’s more than 30 nature reserves and natural areas, providing a description of the sites, their location and directions, along with activities and facilities associated with each site and an abundance of stunning photographs. The book was prepared by the City’s Environmental Resource Management Department, in collaboration with City Parks and the Communication Department, as well as other City line functions, consultants and partners. It is available at the Blaauwberg Conservation Area, and the Helderberg, Rietvlei, Rondevlei and Tygerberg Nature Reserves as well as the Kirstenbosch Botanical Society bookshop. From 01 July the book will cost R23.00.

In further recognition of World Biodiversity Day, the City of Cape Town’s Youth Environmental School (YES) Programme hosted a Biodiversity Week from 10 to 14 May, with 17 different programmes aimed at increasing awareness of our biodiversity. The YES Biodiversity Week programmes all focused on environmental education and awareness around biodiversity issues, and involved 75 Cape Town schools with 9 410 learners between Grades four and 11. The programmes featured, amongst other activities, the opportunity to learn about the endangered Western Leopard Toad, marine biodiversity, the value of wetlands, the negative effects of alien invasive species on the Fynbos biome and how to identify indigenous plant species.

World Biodiversity Day falls on 22 May each year and is celebrated worldwide. This day is sanctioned by the United Nations to increase awareness and understanding around biodiversity issues. This year is also the International Year of Biodiversity because the Biodiversity Target will be evaluated. Unfortunately the target is far from being met, and biodiversity losses have not been halted. Cape Town is one of the global hotspots and if the loss of biodiversity continues it could severely undermine ecosystem services and, subsequently, people’s livelihoods.

Managing biodiversity in an urban context, with unique and irreplaceable biodiversity in our backyards and public opens spaces, presents many challenges and opportunities. Healthy biodiversity is fundamental for human well-being as well as development and economic growth, and the City acknowledges the great support it receives from its citizens in working towards sustainable development.

Date: Saturday 22 May

Time: 09:30

Venue: Helderberg Nature Reserve, Verster Avenue, Somerset West

Programme:

09:30-10:00 Arrival (tea/coffee)
10:00-10:10 Welcome (Owen Wittridge)
10:10-10:25 Introduction (Julia Wood)
10:25-10:35 CAPE (Mandy Barnett)
10:35-10:40 WESSA (Catherine Ritchie)
10:40-11:20 Presentation of certificates to Friends Groups and volunteers
11:20-11:50 Climate change and sea level rise (Darryl Colenbrander)
11:50-12:00 Thanks (Alderman Marian Nieuwoudt)
12:00-12:05 Closure (Owen Wittridge)
Brunch

All media are welcome to attend.

END

Issued by: Lisle Brown, Media Liaison Officer – City of Cape Town, Tel: 021 400 3065 or Cell: 084 888 1901

Media enquiries: * WORLD BIODIVERSITY DAY & FRIENDS EVENT: Julia Wood, Head: Biodiversity Management Branch, Environmental Resource Management Department, City of Cape Town, Tel: 021 514 4155, Cell: 084 464 9153

  • NATURE RESERVES BOOK: Jenny Josefsson, Biodiversity Communication, Environmental Resource Management Department, City of Cape Town, Tel: 021 487 2280, Cell: 079 1805 922
  • YES PROGRAMME: Esmay Swarts, Yes Programme Coordinator, Environmental Resource Management Department, City of Cape Town, Tel: 021 487 2353, Cell: 083 237 4418