The Field Guide for Wild Flower Harvesting

The Field Guide for Wild Flower Harvesting

A new guide to empower fynbos harvesters to know the species they are picking for the market is currently being published. The Field Guide for Wild Flower Harvesting specifically focuses on species found and picked on the Agulhas Plain – a biodiversity hotspot, which includes vast fynbos areas recently included as a Unesco World Heritage site.

The guide has been compiled by Flower Valley Conservation Trust and the Universities of Newcastle and Durham in the United Kingdom.  It lists 41 of the most commonly-picked species on the Plain, and lists their characteristics, geographical range, and conservation status. The guide is also being translated into Afrikaans and Xhosa.

According to Dr Dave Bek, Research Associate at Newcastle University, and co-author of the guide, it’s vital that harvesters are empowered to know the veld they own or work in.

“While fynbos field guides are readily available, they usually don’t focus on those species we’re actively picking for the market. They are also not generally aimed at actual harvesters and landowners – probably the most important custodians of our fynbos heritage.”

The guide also includes information on some of the threats to fynbos, including invasive alien plants and the loss of natural habitat, and provides support for sustainable harvesting practices.

Roger Bailey, Conservation Director at Flower Valley Conservation Trust said, “We see this guide as a tool to encourage and facilitate good harvesting practices, as set out in the Sustainable Harvesting Programme. There are many things we can do when picking fynbos. Many of these are small things, but they can make a big difference in protecting fynbos while providing sustainable livelihoods.”

The 41 species included in the guide are colour-coded according to their conservation status, as per the Red Data List. They also include details on their Vulnerability Index scores, an index developed under the Sustainable Harvesting Programme. The Vulnerability Index provides a guideline as to the impact, or lack thereof, of harvesting on fynbos populations over the long-term.

Dr Bek says, “We’re excited about the Field Guide. Of course we want to be sure that harvesters operating on the Agulhas Plain can benefit from this. But the guide will be just as relevant to secondary and tertiary institutions looking to provide information on fynbos harvesting and fynbos species found on the Plain and beyond.  Its translation into all three languages of the Western Cape – Afrikaans, isi-Xhosa and English – will also ensure its use by a diverse range of harvesters and institutions.”

Funding for the guide has been provided by a UK Economic and Social Research Council Impact Acceleration Award, Newcastle University, the European Union and the WWF Nedbank Green Trust.