Not everyone will be able to visit the fynbos sanctuary of Flower Valley Farm. And see all the action – both in the fynbos and the forest. So as part of our feedback to those who have adopted a hectare on the farm, we’ll bring pockets of the farm into your home instead.
Here’s a brief update on some of Flower Valley Farm’s surprises – and of course the beauty of our fynbos.
Flower Valley Conservation Trust will join researchers and others involved in fynbos at the Fynbos Forum in July.
The Trust will present on the threats to fynbos landscapes and livelihoods created as many in the industry struggle to meet requirements set out in legislation and regulations.
Flower Valley will present an internal environmental and social management system, which provides support to these small-scale suppliers. This system is a step-up approach, facilitating a robust monitoring, support and reporting system.
The Flower Valley team will also join the Greater Overberg Fire Protection Association in hosting a workshop on invasive alien clearing. The workshop will debate the lack of a holistic approach to monitoring actual clearing performances on private land, and measuring the impact thereof.
The workshop will address questions such as: are we really impacting the landscape? And is the money we’re spending being used wisely? What’s more, are we tracking our success and failures, to inform future clearing strategies on private land?
The Fynbos Forum takes place in Port Elizabeth from 25-28 July. The theme this year is, Survivor: Fynbos. It’s the 38th Fynbos Forum.
Flower Valley is looking for a Conservation Extension and Applied Research Coordinator.
Flower Valley Conservation Trust (FVCT) is a registered Public Benefit Organisation, based on Flower Valley Farm, outside Gansbaai in the Overstrand. The Trust promotes the responsible harvesting of fynbos through the Sustainable Harvesting Programme (SHP).
The first known isiXhosa fynbos field guide was launched on Friday 20 May at Kirstenbosch. The guide is aimed at supporting fynbos pickers to know which fynbos species can be picked in the veld, and how to pick responsibly. It is the work of a partnership between Flower Valley Conservation Trust and the Universities of Durham and Newcastle.
The launch of the guide, called the Field Guide for Wild Flower Harvesting, was attended by the likes of CapeNature, WWF-South Africa, retailers, municipalities and tertiary institutions. The guide, a series of videos and a field assessment tool – all developed through the partnership – will be used to support Flower Valley’s Sustainable Harvesting Programme.
According to WWF-SA CEO, Dr Morné du Plessis at the launch, South Africa is a biodiversity superpower. “South Africa is in the top 10 biodiversity-rich countries in the world. We’ve got to turn that into an opportunity for ourselves.” A third of the country’s Gross Domestic Product is fundamentally dependent on the environment. He said much of WWF’s work takes place through partners like the Flower Valley Conservation Trust.
Co-author of the field guide, Gerhard van Deventer, said the guide describes 41 fynbos species that are harvested on the Agulhas Plain. “The booklet will come in handy if you’re in the veld, and are wondering if you’re allowed to pick a specie.” The guide is available in English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa. It’s aimed at harvesters, landowners, tertiary institutions and others.
Flower Valley’s Mntambo Nakwa, who supported the translation of the guide into isiXhosa, said translating fynbos-related words into isiXhosa proved a challenge. “Some words simply can’t be translated directly, and need an explanation.” He said in Xhosa, there are no words for flower parts like the bract and petal. “In Xhosa there is one word for the flower: Igqabi – which means flower.”
The guide and other tools will be handed out to harvesters and landowners who are members of the Sustainable Harvesting Programme. This progamme coordinated by Flower Valley Conservation Trust, is an assurance programme, providing retailers with the assurance that fynbos is not being picked irresponsibly, and social and labour compliance is being met.
Fynbos was the star feature at the Europe Day celebrations, held in Pretoria on Monday 9 May.
Flower Valley Conservation Trust promoted sustainably-harvested fynbos at the event. The celebrations were attended by the Minister of Agriculture, Senzeni Zokwana and ambassadorial heads based in Pretoria.
Two fynbos harvesters, Sylvia Ndoda and Hannelien October met with delegates on Monday. Along with Flower Valley’s Kathy O’Grady, they showcased fynbos that is picked with care – thereby protecting both the landscape and livelihoods. The harvesters also showed attendees how to make a fynbos bouquet.
Europe Day is celebrated across the world. It marks the anniversary of the Schuman declaration – and marks a day of unity and peace in Europe.
The European Union has partnered Flower Valley Conservation Trust through the Sustainable Harvesting Programme, and is supporting the rollout of the Sustainable Harvesting Programme across the Cape Floral Kingdom.
A new study in the fynbos industry is aiming to better understand the scale and structure of fynbos harvesting in the wild, including its ethical compliance with environmental, social and economic legislation and best practice.
The study is being driven by Cape Flora South Africa, with Flower Valley Conservation Trust implementing the activities. Funding has been provided by the Table Mountain Fund, an associated Trust of WWF-South Africa.
While the fynbos industry is more than 100 years old, still not much is known today about where harvesting takes place across the wild fynbos landscape, as well as the characteristics of the industry. As such, it has been difficult for the industry body, Cape Flora SA, to provide marketing and other support to wild harvesters.
The study aims to address these gaps in knowledge, including by shedding light on local fynbos supply chains. From this, key marketing information will be integrated into Cape Flora’s marketing strategy to help the wild industry.
It’s also hoped the study will provide more information on the ethical practices employed across the industry. While cost pressures have risen over the years, the price of wild fynbos stems has in general remained relatively stable. This could force harvesters to pick higher yields of fynbos in order to remain viable. Social and environmental compliance could also be impacted as a result.
Information from the study could therefore identify current challenges and opportunities in wild fynbos harvesting. This information could then be used by the industry to pro-actively engage with conservation authorities.
Flower Valley drives an assurance programme, known as the Sustainable Harvesting Programme, which helps landowners and fynbos suppliers ultimately meet environmental best practice standards, as well as social and labour compliance.
With the help of consultants, the Flower Valley team is now interviewing key players in the industry. All information from the study is being treated confidentially.
A first-of-its-kind Fynbos Field Guide will be launched as part of the International Day of Biodiversity celebrations. Flower Valley Conservation Trust, in collaboration with the Universities of Durham and Newcastle, compiled the guide, which will help harvesters to pick fynbos with care, and to identify fynbos species in the veld.
The launch of the guide, called the Field Guide for Wild Flower Harvesting, takes place on 20 May in Cape Town to coincide with the world celebration of International Day of Biodiversity on Sunday, 22 May.
The Field Guide for Wild Flower Harvesting – available in English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa – helps fynbos harvesters to understand the need to care for fynbos resources. The guide includes 41 fynbos species found on the Agulhas Plain and beyond which are picked for markets – many of which are listed as endangered on the Red List of South African Plants.
The guide also provides the Vulnerability Index listing of species. This index is based on biological criteria, and gives a guideline as to how the long-term population of each species may be impacted by harvesting.
Other tools to support sustainable fynbos harvesting will also be introduced at the event. Fynbos harvesting training videos, also available in English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa will be showcased. The videos are used in training fynbos harvesters to carefully manage the fynbos they work in.
A field assessment tool has also been developed, which allows land users to gauge at what level they are caring for their fynbos resources, and how they can potentially improve.
These tools are in support of the Sustainable Harvesting Programme (SHP), driven by Flower Valley Conservation Trust across the fynbos industry. The SHP serves as an assurance programme, offering fynbos suppliers and landowners support to enter on a journey towards full sustainability. The programme aims to provide assurance to retailers, and ultimately consumers, that the fynbos bouquets they buy are not harming the natural veld, while social and labour compliance is met. The Programme is supported by the European Union and the WWF-SA Nedbank Green Trust.
Twenty fynbos harvesters and invasive alien clearers have been selected to become fynbos champions. The champions then attended a Champion Training Week in November.
The champions were selected from members of the Sustainable Harvesting Programme (SHP) and from invasive alien clearing teams in the Overberg, with the aim to upskill them to promote sustainability in fynbos. Following the training, the champions would be in a position to become the point-person in their team on matters related to the SHP, social and labour standards, and research- and monitoring-related questions.
The Champion Training Week, part of the Field Monitor Project, took place at Fynbos Retreat just outside Gansbaai. It was led by Flower Valley’s Conservation Extension and Applied Research Coordinator Bronwyn Botha and Ethical Trade Coordinator Kathy O’Grady. The Global Environment Facility’s Small Grants Programme (facilitated by the United Nations Development Programme) provided funding for the week.
Fynbos pickers and alien clearers covered topics such as the introduction to fynbos and its ecology, understanding the SHP, an introduction to research and monitoring and how to use field forms and research equipment.
The Champion Training Week was the first of its kind offered by Flower Valley. For many of the attendees, it was also their first step in understanding sustainability and being in a position to share the message with their peers.
The Sustainable Harvesting Programme highlights capacity building among harvesters and landowners as an essential tool to encourage greater environmental awareness and better understand social and labour best practice principles. Around 160 harvesters have received training to date across the Cape Floral Kingdom.
While the SHP initially focused on the Agulhas Plain, with support from the European Union and the WWF Nedbank Green Trust, the programme is now being rolled out to three more main harvesting areas within the Kingdom.
Not that much is known about the impacts of harvesting on wild fynbos over the long term. In order to address this challenge, Flower Valley Conservation Trust has set up a Research Working Group to play a key role in answering fynbos-related questions, and to help focus research efforts.
While research over the years has provided some short-term answers on the thresholds of harvesting, more work is needed to better understand how individual species are affected by picking.
Research undertaken over a six-year period and published in 2012 by botanist Sean Privett (supported by CapeNature and Stellenbosch University) took the first steps in answering these questions. The study, undertaken in the Agulhas Plain, found that resprouters such as Silver Brunia (Brunia laevis) and Altydbossie (Staavia radiata) have a high mortality when the whole plant is harvested. Other species such as Ker-ker (Erica imbricata) can also die if 100 percent harvesting takes place.
While this study was the first to provide guidance on the impacts of harvesting on specific species, it emphasised the importance of further research. Researchers also suggest that species in different areas may react differently to harvesting.
To help better understand this and other important fynbos-related questions, the Research Working Group was set up. Researchers from tertiary institutions and others from the fynbos industry have been invited to stand on this Working Group.
According to Bronwyn Botha, Flower Valley’s Conservation Extension and Applied Research Coordinator, the group’s activities will help strengthen the Sustainable Harvesting Programme’s research and monitoring activities. It will also therefore assist to support sustainable practices throughout the fynbos industry.
She said, “As research and monitoring proceeds within the Sustainable Harvesting Programme, more and more research needs are being identified. These needs are then captured on a research agenda, which – with the help of our Working Group members – then guide the research efforts.”
The Working Group is also responsible for the accurate interpretation of research findings. These findings can then be used to help guide policies implemented by conservation authorities.
Flower Valley Conservation Trust’s harvesting team has been given the opportunity to become an independent contracting team. This opportunity fits Flower Valley’s empowerment objectives, to encourage and facilitate small businesses in the fynbos industry.
The Trust’s picking team has harvested fynbos responsibly on Flower Valley Farm and surrounds after the Trust was launched in 1999. The team is a member of the Sustainable Harvesting Programme, picking fynbos according to strict criteria.
With the new opportunity, the team will operate as a micro business, with full support from the Trust. Markets are in place to receive the sustainably harvested fynbos product. As such, the team will remain key players in the Sustainable Harvesting Programme.
According to Lesley Richardson, Flower Valley’s Executive Director, the new developments achieve a number of objectives. “We really believe the exciting move offers great benefits to the harvesting team, who will receive support from the Trust and from a mentor all through this journey. As a Trust, we believe in supporting small businesses in the fynbos industry – and this is a wonderful and empowering way to support such a business.”