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.

 

Flower Valley’s 2016-17 annual report available

Annual report for 2016 – 2017

The Flower Valley Conservation Trust’s annual report for 2016 – 2017 financial year has been completed and is now available. For the year, there has been significant focus on monitoring of fynbos in the veld to enable a more sustainable bouquet industry, learning about new alien invasives in the Overberg and creating and expanding the correct environments for our children of the Overstrand. A special thank you to donors, partners and Flower Valley friends for your support towards a fynbos-filled future for life and livelihoods.

Download Annual Report

 

A year of bottom-up landscape conservation

annualreport

Annual report for 2015 – 2016

The Flower Valley Conservation Trust’s annual report for 2015 – 2016 financial year has been completed and is now available. It’s been a year where fynbos conservation has been prioritised from the bottom up: from our work in sustainable harvesting of fynbos, to the work in supporting invasive vegetation management. A special thank you to donors, partners and Flower Valley friends for supporting fynbos conservation and sustainable livelihoods during the year.

To read the full annual report, click here

Flower Valley’s 2014-15 annual report available

annual

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” ~ Helen Keller

Flower Valley Conservation Trust’s annual report for 2014-2015 is now available. For Flower Valley Conservation Trust, partnerships have always been key. We simply cannot protect our fynbos landscapes working in isolation. And given the many threats to fynbos, particularly from invasive alien plants, the pressure is mounting to together ensure our conservation efforts address all these threats, while reaching as much of the landscape as possible.

Click here to read the report.

Latest Flower Valley News

Flower Valley: Intervening to help protect our biodiversity.

It’s great when conservation and social efforts lead to tangible results. For Flower Valley, newsthat includes being part of the partnership that cleared 25,000 hectares of land of invasive alien plants in under a year. And playing our role in opening a new Early Childhood Development Centre in Masakhane. It’s exciting times for us, and we hope you enjoy some of our news and highlights shared below.

Latest Flower Valley News April 2o14 is now available.

Click here to read

Proteaceae findings published in SA Journal of Science

Many species from the Proteaceae family are known as the symbol of fynbos. They are alsoOne & Only Hotel (cape Town, South Africa) responsible for the bulk of the economic value generated by the fynbos wildflower industry. Now research on the Proteaceae, as highlighted at the Fynbos Forum held earlier this year, has been published in the South African Journal of Science.

Studies emphasised in the journal include the impact of climate change on the germination and seedling growth of a number of Proteaceae species. According to research by Anthony Rebelo, germination was reduced at higher temperatures, although some seeds could still germinate when temperatures were 3.5 °C higher.

Various studies also found that certain Proteaceae species were threatened by increased fires, and that contemporary fire intervals are sometimes too short for slow-maturing non-sprouting species to set seed.

Other matters were also addressed at the Fynbos Forum, and are included in the article. At a workshop held at the forum, the question was asked: ‘What are the most important questions from a management perspective?’ Fire was highlighted as a key topic (38%), followed by conservation planning (23%).

To read the article, as published in the South African Journal of Science, click here.