The Sustainable Harvesting Code of Best Practice for wild fynbos pickers is to be included in an industry-wide best principle guideline. The Code is to be included as part of the South African Protea Producers and Exporters Association (SAPPEX) best practice guidelines for the industry. Once the SAPPEX guidelines are finalised with industry input, this will allow the Code to reach an industry-wide audience, broader than just the Agulhas Plain where it was piloted.

The Code of Best Practice was developed by Flower Valley Conservation Trust on the Plain, in conjunction with CapeNature and the fynbos industry over the past nine years. It aims to protect fynbos land from over-picking, while maximizing the economic benefits to sustainable fynbos harvesting. The Code includes correct cutting techniques – as researched by the industry and these organisations. It also encourages record keeping for research purposes.

The Code therefore gives consumers who buy these fynbos bouquets the assurance that the plants have been carefully picked, while strict social standards have been adhered to.

According to Roger Bailey, Conservation Manager at Flower Valley Conservation Trust, the inclusion of the Code of Best Practice in the SAPPEX document is a major step in looking after the land. “Even though most pickers in the industry are very careful with their land and their fynbos, this formalises the way and the need to conserve fynbos.”

Bailey said the inclusion also recognises the industry’s understanding of the Code. “This is not about being unrealistic and downplaying the fynbos industry’s economic value to the country. Instead, it’s about finding the right balance between conserving fynbos lands for future generations, while making a living off your resources right now.”

The SAPPEX guidelines allow harvesters to test themselves against environmental and human resources principles and legal compliance. It is specifically intended for those who can’t afford formal certification. It includes fair treatment of workers and looks at recycling and re-use, amongst a range of other issues. The guideline is currently in draft format, and harvesters will be invited to give their input and add to the document. It is hoped it will be used by the industry as a whole once finalised.