Look out for these 3 ‘new’ threatening invasive plants

Three new and emerging invasive alien species are being targeted on the Agulhas Plain.

The plan is to rid the area of these three species – before they spread beyond their current farm boundaries, threatening our region’s biodiversity. 

A Flower Valley Conservation Trust alien clearing team has worked to remove the species, partnering with the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI).

And even though the SANBI-funded project ended in March 2019, residents of the Agulhas Plain are still asked to get involved: To contact Flower Valley Conservation Trust if you come across any of these three species.

(This way we can ensure they’re removed in the next funding cycle). 


The three are:

  • Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthos flavidus)
  • Mauritian Hemp (Furcraea foetida)
  • Australian Bottlebrush (Melaleuca linearis)



Here’s why the experts are so concerned about these invasive species:


This species is native to Western Australia. But it’s very adaptable to most soil types – even water-stressed areas (like South Africa). It’s immune to most fungal attacks – and SANBI warns it could pose a threat to the rich biodiversity of the Agulhas Plain. It has been growing on two farms in the Plain, where our alien clearing team has been working to remove them.


This species is originally from the Caribbean and tropical South America. But it’s extremely invasive, and not only in South Africa (it’s invasive in Eastern and South-Western Australia too). You’ll find it in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal. It was found to be growing in the Nuwejaars Wetland Special Management Area – with immediate action taken to remove it. It’s listed as a Category 1a plant invader – which means it must be eradicated.


The narrow-leaved bottlebrush is very concerning to SANBI because it so easily outcompetes native vegetation. That’s a worry for our rich fynbos landscapes. It has been found on a farm near Stanford in the Plain (although it has also been found in Wolseley, Tulbagh and Rooi Els). It’s a member of the Myrtle family, endemic to New South Wales and Queensland in Australia.

While this project may have completed, we are still keeping an eye out for emerging invasive species, and by working with partners, are looking to remove them before they become a problem. 

If you see these 3 invaders (or another you’re concerned about), contact Stanley Engel. Email: stanley@flowervalley.co.za (preferably include your photos of the plant). 

Flower Valley’s latest news

Flower Valley News

Every organisation reviews its strategy from time to time, to seize new opportunities and prepare for new challenges. Our review over the last year has been a great team-building exercise – and has led us to our new vision statement:

A Fynbos-Filled Future for Life and Livelihoods

I love it. It’s so simple, yet captures the many layers of our work. For me, it’s especially important in that it highlights the role of people in Fynbos. All our work takes place through a people-centred approach: of learning, demonstration and collaboration.

To focus on collaboration:  we partner with harvesters, landowners, suppliers, retailers, parents, children, government – and so many more. Together we bring about positive change. I want to thank all these partners for the teamwork and successes we have enjoyed together this year.

And I also want to thank the many funders who have over the years been partners too. 
It’s all those companies, organisations, philanthropic individuals and Trusts who invest in this vision: in Fynbos landscapes and Fynbos livelihoods.

It’s clear South Africa’s economy is in a difficult place right now. We can see the effects of this in both the conservation and agricultural sectors. This makes it all the more important to ensure our work offers a good return on investment. And it does! So thank you for your support. We’ll continue to provide those returns: safeguarding ecosystems, securing livelihoods and nurturing young children.

One final thought: It feels really good to give a green gift on festive occasions. What about a green gift from Flower Valley Farm – adopting a hectare of Fynbos and forests for a year for a family member or friend? Please support this cause. Here’s how.

May you have a wonderful festive season. We look forward to your continued support and partnership next year.

Get our latest news here.

Kind regards,


Flower Valley’s 2017-18 annual report available

The Flower Valley Conservation Trust’s annual report for 2017 – 2018 is now available. And for Executive Director, Lesley Richardson, Flower Valley has (and continues to) focus on better lives, protected natural landscapes and greater sustainability. These are all things the funders of today want to see. And that’s how the Trust invests in the future. The full report is available here.




Early childhood support grows in Masakhane – thanks to partnerships

The Good Hope Early Childhood Development Centre in Masakhane is now able to accommodate an additional 60 children.

The centre, which serves children from birth to 5 years of age, has been extended with an additional site operating since October.

The existing site already cares for 40 children. The centre has also now opened its doors at the old primary school in Masakhane.

The centre forms part of the Flower Valley Early Childhood Development Programme. According to the programme’s manager, Gabbi Jonker, the growth is thanks to the strong partnerships that have formed around the centre.


How it all started

Flower Valley Conservation Trust has supported and worked in partnership with the Good Hope ECD Centre since 2014. This initial work came through Flower Valley’s partnership with the Western Cape Department of Social Development. Important ground work was initiated through collaboration with the Overstrand Municipality and Masakhane parents and residents, and Good Hope staff.

Partnerships continued to grow to include initial infrastructure input (from Gamko Services), and resource support and monitoring of qualification training, thanks to Enlighten Education Trust and the Nicolette Botha-Guthrie Trust Fund. Boland College also supported teacher qualification training.

Gabbi says in the past 18 months, partnerships have grown substantially. Thanks to the Grootbos Foundation, children have a wonderful new outdoor play area at the new site. The Grootbos Foundation and the Overstrand Municipality joined hands in the renovation of the new site. Grootbos Foundation has also accessed funding to provide seed capital to co-finance a large percentage of salaries. At the same time, Aquinion brought their Payroll expertise to the centre, and also assist with human resource activities.


A vibrant and heartfelt atmosphere

The governing body of the Good Hope ECD Centre now consists of strong representatives of multiple stakeholders. This diversity of skills, knowledge, expertise and care provides a solid basis on which to work towards sustainable service delivery for the children of the Good Hope ECD Centre.

Flower Valley currently supports the Good Hope Centre in all aspects of administration, management, governance, registration, learning programme and teacher training, staff and partnership development, and supporting environmental education in the curriculum. Gabbi says that thanks to the valuable partners, this work takes place in an atmosphere that is vibrant and heartfelt, reflecting a common purpose of equal access to good quality early childhood developmental opportunities.

“It takes many committed persons, government and non-profit organisations to stand together to create a better world. Only together can we support life-affirming environments for our young children and in so doing for our society as a whole. Thank you all for joining hearts and hands in this wonderful initiative.”

For more information please contact: Gabbi Jonker: gabbi@flowervalley.co.za


The wild Fynbos industry: Understanding the good and the not so good

The demand for Fynbos has rocketed in recent years, with exports doubling since 2012. Fynbos is also now seen as an elite product – especially in the overseas markets.

A recent study into the wild fynbos sector looked at the scale, structure and sustainability of the wild fynbos harvesting supply chain. The results of the study, funded by the Table Mountain Fund (an associated Trust of WWF South Africa) and undertaken by Coventry University and Flower Valley Conservation Trust, were released at a launch event held outside Botriver in November.

According to Dr David Bek, lead researcher, “This used to be a cottage industry. But if you look at the improvements in terms of employment and upgrading, that’s not the case anymore. The entrepreneurs of the industry have done well. And through bouquet-making, we’re capturing the value in South Africa.”

However, the growth of the industry has put some pressure on the resource.

The study found that the range of species being harvested has declined from 300, to around 150. Most harvesting takes place in the Overberg.

“Silver Brunia, in particular, is critical to the financial survival of many harvesting businesses,” Dr Bek said. The prices of Silver Brunia have increased more than 600% in a decade. “This has led to pressure on stocks and has also led to poaching.”


Understanding the nature of employment

Kathy O’Grady, Flower Valley’s Ethical Trade Coordinator, said the harvesting industry employs around 2000 people. An additional 1400 people receive direct employment through packsheds, where bouquets are made.

She said, “Increased formalisation and upskilling in the industry has led to better paid permanent jobs.” However, the study found examples in which harvesters earn about 4.5 percent of the final value of the product. And prices paid to harvesters for greens (excluding Silver Brunia) have increased very little in the last decade.

Despite this, there have been marked increases in expenses for contractors, such as fuel, maintenance and wages.

Wages vary – with some harvesting earning “a good living”, well in excess of the minimum wage, the report found. But some people “have more precarious work and may often earn below the minimum wage”.


The study highlighted some of the key concerns:

  • Invasive alien plants: Dr Bek said, “Some people we interviewed said that in 20 to 30 years’ time, all the land will be covered in aliens.”
  • Unsustainable harvesting – and in particular, different views on what is sustainable.
  • Poaching and fire.
  • Assurance does not cover the entire industry – but key segments of the market are increasingly expecting it.


The report has recommended three areas of focus for the industry:

  1. To promote greater industry cohesion, so that Fynbos can have a voice on bigger platforms.
  2. To improve data availability and accuracy.
  3. To ensure steps are taken for the industry to be economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.


The research project grew from the need to better understand the industry, in terms of its economic impact, as well as social and environmental impacts.

The Table Mountain Fund provided the funding for the study, which was overseen by Cape Flora SA, the Fynbos industry body.


To read the abbreviated report – click here.

To read the full report – click here.


Hope, passion or wisdom? What Fynbos colours symbolise…

Colours say so much. And colours in Fynbos amplify those messages.

So the Flower Valley team recently headed out onto Flower Valley Farm, to photograph all the flowering colours on those hectares adopted by Friends of Flower Valley.

We then connected the meaning of colours with our very special Fynbos species.


See if you agree with the meaning of colours in Fynbos…


Yellow: Hope, happiness, honour and freshness. Perfectly captured in our flowering Fynbos on Flower Valley Farm. 


The colour orange… is associated with warmth, creativity, enthusiasm and freedom. Can you feel it when taking in these flaming Fynbos flowers on Flower Valley Farm? Enough to brighten any day… 

3: RED

Passion, love, radiance, romance: That’s the meaning of red… captured in our flowering Fynbos on Flower Valley Farm.


Pink symbolises tenderness, nurturing, compassion, intimacy. And these are some of the pinks flowering on Flower Valley Farm, on hectares adopted by our wonderful supporters.


Noble, royal, grandiose, dignified: That’s the meaning of purple, and clearly also the meaning of purple Fynbos, as photographed on Flower Valley Farm. 


Fynbos has grown and adapted for more than a million years. So we’re sure Fynbos has these traits – as captured in the colour blue: wisdom, loyalty. stability and freedom.


White = sincerity, softness, perfection and purity. Need we say more?!

What about your own adopted hectare?

What colour or colours would you like to see? Adopt your own hectare here.


And let us know what colour YOU’RE looking for in your hectare. Email: adopt@flowervalley.co.za

How to inspire children? Start with the teacher…

How can adults connect with a child? As adults, we must first understand ourselves – our desires, wishes and our fears. 

That’s the essence of the Flower Valley Early Childhood Development Teacher’s Retreats. They provide a nurturing space for teachers to grow and better understand themselves.

The ECD team, led by Coordinator Gabbi Cook Jonker, hosted such a retreat in September. It was held at Wortelgat.

Here practitioners from early childhood development centres in the Overstrand (that form part of our ECD Programme) came together, to enter on a journey of self exploration, from nature walks, to art activities and yoga.

The Creative Skills Factory facilitated the retreat – and have compiled a wonderful blog capturing their experiences at the retreat.

i-Fynbos: 4 tips on how you can use the fynbos app

For the first time, landowners and harvesters can now monitor the impacts of harvesting on fynbos populations. And all of this through an easy-to-use cellphone app.

The app is meant to support fynbos management.


BUT it can also be used to help identify fynbos species that are picked frequently – and to know whether these species are endangered or not. 

Here are 4 quick tips for you to manoeuvre through the i-Fynbos application: 


Like most apps, the i-Fynbos app can be downloaded from the Google Playstore (it’s not available to Apple users yet). You’ll find this on any Android smartphone device. Just search for i-Fynbos – then download it (it’s about 17MB).


Under the menu, you’ll see a heading called: The Field Guide. This is a guide to 41 fynbos species harvested on the Agulhas Plain. It includes pictures, descriptions, and the conservation status of each species.

Where could you use this? It’s a great tool to use when you’re walking through fynbos landscapes (but it only lists fynbos species that are harvested). Or when you’re in-store buying a bouquet of fynbos, and you’d like to know the conservation status of the plant.


Under the menu, you’ll also see a section called: Tips for pickers. Here are 10 principles to use when cutting fynbos, to do it responsibly.


If you’re a harvester or landowner using the app to collect data, login to the member section. And create your first sample. We describe exactly how to go about taking a sample, and what steps to take. It’s a simple, easy way to monitor fynbos harvesting – and to see the impacts of it over time.

Still not sure? Check out the User Sample section for some examples.

AND OF COURSE: Get in touch with Flower Valley Conservation Trust to find out more about the i-Fynbos app, how to use it, and how to work together to support sustainable fynbos harvesting. 

A fynbos app launched to manage your natural veld

Landowners and harvesters who harvest wild fynbos can now better manage their fynbos populations through a new cellphone application.

The app, called i-Fynbos, collects information on fynbos harvested from the wild, and allows effective monitoring over time. Landowners and harvesters will be able to check that their harvesting is sustainable in the long term.

Around 60% of fynbos used in the bouquet market is harvested from natural landscapes, because it is cheaper than the focal flowers picked in cultivated flower orchards. That amounts to millions of stems that are picked every year and sold. But very little is known about how fynbos landscapes change, due to insufficient monitoring.

Where does harvested fynbos originate? 

According to Kirsten Watson, Flower Valley Conservation Trust’s Conservation Manager, “There is a need to know where the harvested fynbos comes from and how it’s harvested.”

She says that monitoring fynbos is difficult, because of the vast landscapes across which harvesting takes place. “Where does one even start to evaluate a property? Where do I go to look at harvested veld?”

The i-Fynbos app provides a solution to landowners. Kirsten says, “The app gives you a landscape view of the property you work on – where you’ve harvested, what you’ve harvested and the quality of the harvesting. This is something we never had before. So it’s to empower suppliers and harvesters to take responsibility for their monitoring.”

It’s downloaded from the Google Playstore to a smartphone – making it accessible to fynbos harvesters.

A citizen science project

She says, “This is as much a monitoring effort as a citizen science project. The i-Fynbos app makes citizen scientists out of harvesters, who are responsible for capturing the data. However, we recommend that all information collected is verified by a third party like Flower Valley Conservation Trust.”

The fynbos app came about through funding support from the Durham University and Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, who have been working in collaboration with Flower Valley Conservation Trust and its Sustainable Harvesting Programme since 2010. The Sustainable Harvesting Programme works with harvesters and suppliers to pick fynbos responsibly, and to meet social and labour compliance.

During the following six months, the app will be tested by teams of harvesters. After this, the app could be made available to other harvesting sectors, such as the honeybush industry and the medicinal plants sector.


Get it on Google Play

Developed in partnership with: