Fynbos extension rolled out in CFR

bronwynA new position supporting conservation extension and applied research in fynbos-
harvesting areas across the Cape Floral Kingdom has been launched within Flower Valley Conservation Trust. Bronwyn Botha has been appointed in the post. Her position is being funded by the WWF Nedbank Green Trust for the next three years.

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Buy responsibly harvested fynbos bouquets

mothersIt’s nearly Mother’s Day. And it’s your chance to show your mom you care, not only about her, but also for the environment.

Buy responsibly harvested fynbos bouquets from Pick n Pay stores in South Africa, or from Marks & Spencer in the United Kingdom. You’ll be taking action to protect the fynbos, and those jobs dependent on fynbos.

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How do ethics inform consumer decisions?

ethicalThe ethical choices made by consumers in the Western Cape was highlighted during a
recent workshop, hosted by the United Kingdom Universities of Newcastle and Durham, and Flower Valley Conservation Trust. The event shed light on key questions that define how consumers view ethically-produced goods in general, and fynbos in particular. The workshop, held in Cape Town, follows the completion of a project

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Funky Fynbos Festival kicks off in September

funkyfynbosA new festival will showcase the best of the fynbos in the Overberg, including Flower
Valley Conservation Trust’s fynbos-covered landscapes and the Trust’s work in fynbos conservation. The Funky Fynbos Festival will be held between 12 and 14 September 2014 in and around Gansbaai. It will include activities for tourists on Flower Valley Farm.

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New ECD learning programme on offer through Flower Valley

milkwoodA new learning programme for children aged birth to four years old is in the process of being registered by the Department of Social Development. The Milkwood Learning Programme was written by Flower Valley’s Early Childhood Development Programme Coordinator, Gabrielle Jonker, in collaboration with Sandra Mitchell from the South African Education and Environment Project (SAEP).

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‘Sewejaartjie’ cottage opens at Fynbos Retreat

fynbosretreat_wNew opportunities for tourists to enjoy a fynbos-filled break in a critically-endangered fynbos haven are becoming available. A new self-catering cottage has been launched at Fynbos Retreat – the joint venture between Flower Valley Conservation Trust and Grootbos Private Nature Reserve. And ‘glam-camping’ sites will soon also be on offer on the property.

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Fynbos industry shake-up and changes

ppsaThe two major industry bodies in the fynbos sector, the South African Protea Producers and Exporters Association (SAPPEX) and the Protea Producers of South Africa (PPSA) are set to amalgamate. At the same time, however, CapeNature will for the time being no longer support a Sustainable Harvesting Project Manager in the organisation.

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Easy tools to measure biodiversity impact

Tools to assess whether fynbos harvesting is damaging the biodiversity were launched at aworkshop special workshop held in Cape Town. The field assessment tools are an easy way to measure the impact of fynbos suppliers and harvesters on the veld, while still ensuring economic sustainability.

The tools were developed by the Knowledge Exchange project, run by Newcastle and Durham Universities in the United Kingdom. The project is funded by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council, and is a partnership with Flower Valley Conservation Trust. They were launched at a special workshop held on 27 March in conjunction with WWF-SA, called ‘Delivering Sustainability for Ethical Markets in the Western Cape’.

According to Dr Dave Bek, Research Associate at Newcastle University, the assessment tools measure elements such as the number of stems picked, and the number of stems with this year’s seed left. It also identifies and measures other impacts on the veld, such as litter and the use of roads.

“Leaving twine in the veld is a nightmare. And leaving thick piles of leaves in the fynbos where harvested stems have been cleaned, can smother plants underneath. So these tools look at these elements. If retailers are saying that they are buying product that is not damaging the veld, we need the metrics to back that up. That is what this field assessment offers.”

The field assessment tools could ideally be undertaken annually within a supplier outfit. However, it would not replace a more formal audit. According to Dr Bek, “This is about underpinning the Sustainable Harvesting Code of Best Practice.” The Code encourages harvesters to not harvest more than 50 percent of the stems on any bush, and to leave sufficient seedstock in the veld.

Flower Valley Conservation Trust’s Conservation Manager Roger Bailey said at the workshop that the tools offer a means of verification, to ensure good land management is practiced by suppliers. “The field assessment tools really strengthen our Sustainable Harvesting Programme, and create a culture for those working in the environment to ensure conservation goals are implemented on the ground.“

The assessment tools can be used by external assessors as a form of third party verification. A summary score can be produced which rates on an A to D scale: A, which indicates good compliance, whilst D indicates failure to comply. Thus, the assessment is a mechanism for ensuring suppliers who have signed up to the Sustainable Harvesting Programme are complying with the Code.

It is hoped that the assessment will be used by a variety of stakeholders to ensure improved management of the fynbos biome. Suppliers are encouraged to use the assessment themselves in order to assess their own practices. In this sense, the assessment is an excellent training tool for harvesters.

Training materials were also officially launched at the workshop. A field guide detailing 40 harvestable species will be made available in English, Afrikaans and Xhosa. Visual training materials in Afrikaans and Xhosa, with English subtitles, have also been compiled to help encourage good land management in the fynbos industry.

Video: What you need to pick fynbos

Tips on what you need if you head out to the veld to harvest fynbos are now available, to help pickers prepare themselves adequately. The footage, available on YouTube, was developed by the Knowledge Exchange Project. It will form part of the Sustainable Harvesting Programme’s training material. Click here to watch the video.

ABI Alien Clearing Project celebrates first year

abi_1year1

The Agulhas Biodiversity Initiative (ABI) Alien Clearing Project is celebrating the completion of its first year. The project is coordinated by the Flower Valley Conservation Trust team. It has seen more than 25,000 hectares cleared of invasive aliens, and 347 beneficiaries employed in year one.

The project is funded by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) through its Land User Incentive Scheme, with co-funding provided by partners involved in the project. DEA funded the project’s first year activities to the tune of R6-million, while landowners and other participants contributed substantial time and effort to cover planning and management costs.

The ABI model has seen land user groups such as conservancies take on a major role in the planning and roll out of the project. These groups work closely with the 34 contracting teams undertaking the clearing. Local municipalities, non-governmental organisations, SANParks and CapeNature were also members of the project’s Implementation Committee, playing a major role in the success to date.

According to Roger Bailey, Conservation Manager at Flower Valley Conservation Trust and Coordinator of the ABI Alien Clearing Project, the model has allowed alien clearing to take place strategically across much of the Agulhas Plain. “The level of involvement of the various stakeholders has also been a major strength of the project, with all the partners ultimately taking responsibility for the work. The assistance we’ve received from key DEA staff has also been instrumental in assisting us, as we pioneer this project.”

It’s also hoped that an assessment of the first year’s activities will highlight areas where the project can be improved and can be run more efficiently. “We’re testing a new way of doing things, and as such, we’ve learnt a lot along the way. For example, the administration that is required in this project has called for an enormous effort from all partners. But the project has benefited from the very fact that systems can be tested and improved.”

An opportunity also exists to further improve knowledge on invasive alien clearing methodologies and the model, through research and monitoring. Bailey says, “Different species require different methods of clearing. Our experience in the veld can now assist us to become better at clearing and to share that where we can. We can also highlight from veld observations that the current favourable weather conditions for plant growth have boosted the regeneration of invader plant species, which in turn has impacted on the project’s clearing work.”

The ABI Alien Clearing Coordination team has now worked with relevant stakeholders to compile the annual plan of operations for the second year. This forms the basis on which the project will implement its clearing plan in the coming year.

Your own Erica ID kit:

There are around 660 Erica species in the Cape Floral Kingdom. On Flower Valley Farm, we’ve got 19 Erica species. (Most notably, you’ll find the Endangered Erica irregularis.) We’ve compiled an Erica ID kit of the main Erica species you’ll find in our area. And we’re making this kit available to those who have Adopted a Hectare on Flower Valley Farm.