Biodiversity importance of the Cape Floristic Kingdom
One of the key values of protected areas is to ensure that the biodiversity of a biome is protected and allowed to function in accordance with natural processes. The Cape Floristic Kingdom is the richest of the world’s six plant kingdoms, proportional to size, and is an epicentre of diversity and endemism. More than 9000 plant species occur in this region, 6192 species (70%), 160 genera and six families are found nowhere else on the planet! Of these plant species more than 1850 are threatened with extinction, while more than 45 species are already known to be extinct.
The region also supports 560 higher-vertebrate species and studies suggest that there are high levels of unique species amongst the invertebrates. Birdlife International considers the Cape Floristic Kingdom as a “High Priority Endemic Bird Area”, with two of the species, Cape Sugarbird and Orange Breasted Sunbird, playing a critical role in the pollination of many fynbos plants.
Over 55% of the 44 frog taxa and 27 of the reptile taxa recorded within the Cape Floristic Kingdom are endemic. Indigenous freshwater fishes are a priority group for conservation within the Cape Floristic Kingdom, with 16 of the 19 species being endemic – alarmingly nine of these species are endangered, four are vulnerable and two others are near-threatened. Due to this high centre of biodiversity, protected areas are extremely important to guarantee that further species are not lost or threatened within the CFK and that the unique biodiversity is protected.
First Published: 6/04/2015