Let's Preserve The Most Biodiverse Floral Kingdom on Earth
Gladiolus rudis, a cape endemic
By area, the Cape Floristic Province of South Africa is the most biodiverse floristic kingdom on the planet. To give you an idea, there are 30 percent more plant species in the Cape Floristic Province than in the entire United States, yet the area it covers is less than that of Alaska. An amazing 69 percent of that biodiversity occurs nowhere else on earth. Only four to six percent of the renosterveld vegetation type remains, and it is in danger of being lost forever to modern agricultural technology and indifferent, uninformed land use decisions. In fact, all regional varieties of the renosterveld are now listed as “critically endangered” by the South African government.
Floral kingdoms across the world
As a conservation biologist, when I first visited the renosterveld and heard these facts, I was stunned that more wasn’t being done to conserve this globally important landscape. I treated the experience like a call-to-arms. I spent the next year designing and developing a novel conservation project with the help of my two project partners, Odette Curtis, PhD and Director of the Overberg Lowlands Conservation Trust, and David Gwynne-Evans, PhD and Director of CASABIO, the collaborative archive of South African biodiversity. We have presently designed a project that will serve to explore the aesthetic value of the ecosystem and the individual organisms within it while simultaneously gathering vital information that will aid in the conservation and preservation of the renosterveld from a scientific standpoint.
Information on the spatial distribution of individual species is invaluable to the understanding of the renosterveld from an ecological and conservation standpoint and a person is much more likely to care about a species if they are cognizant of its existence and its name. To complete this project, I will photograph the plant, bird, and mammal species of individual renosterveld remnants across the former range of the renosterveld.