Habitat Transformation of the Cape Floristic Kingdom

Blouberg Strand and Table Mountain

Habitat Transformation of the Cape Floristic Kingdom

Habitat transformation in the Cape Floristic Kingdom (CFK) has been extreme since the time when Jan van Riebeeck landed in South Africa in 1652. As much as 31% of the CFK has already been completely transformed, with the major threats being agriculture, alien plants, afforestation and urbanisation. Although urbanisation is responsible for the smallest area of transformation, the ecological consequences are extreme. Urban populations need food and water and also generate waste and pollution, it is expected that by 2020 another 30% of the remaining natural vegetation in the CFK will be transformed.

Through the transformation of land there is a loss in biodiversity and as a result natural processes can no longer function properly. Biodiversity is the natural capital from which the world makes withdrawals and any loss to biodiversity has a direct impact on poverty, since it sustains both livelihoods and life itself. An estimated 40% of the global economy is based on ecological products and processes. It is often the poorest sectors of the population that sustain themselves on the environment and any loss to biodiversity will have dire consequences to them first, while the rich are buffered from the immediate threats. The challenge to the people living in the CFK is to ensure that the resources are used wisely and in a sustainable manner. Due to the often-isolated position of protected area, they are one of the few areas where natural processes can still take place to the overall benefit of the human race. So the main message here is to support the CFKs protected areas managed by TMF’s partners, CapeNature and SANParks.

Peter Chadwick

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