Meet Daylene, our SHP field monitor

The Sustainable Harvesting team has received additional support to test new fynbos monitoring methods. A field monitor, Daylene van Riet has joined the team. She will now work with fynbos harvesters who are members of the Sustainable Harvesting Programme, together testing the field monitoring method and capturing fynbos harvesting data.

Daylene will also assist veld harvesters to follow the sustainable harvesting principles, record field assessment data correctly and complete independent fynbos assessments and capture this information digitally.

 

Rupert Koopman, Botanist for CapeNature and member of the Sustainable Harvesting Steering Committee joined the SHP team with Daylene, to advise on the monitoring system and improve it where necessary. Trevor Adams, Botanist for SANParks, also joined the team recently to better understand the monitoring methodology. Adams specialises in monitoring species of special concern in fynbos and wetlands.

With this monitoring system in place, the Sustainable Harvesting team will remain on top of harvesting trends, to help support the responsible harvesting of key species. The system is being rolled out in the Agulhas Plain area as a starting point, and will later be implemented across other harvesting areas across the Cape Floral Kingdom.

 

Brunia drives a fynbos focus

brunia

Silver brunia

Silver brunia is helping to focus attention on the Cape Floral Kingdom – and specifically, the need to harvest fynbos sustainably.

In an article featured in the Business Day, the demand for fynbos is highlighted – with fynbos exported to Europe, Asia, Russia and many other global markets. That also shows the importance of sustainably managing the fynbos industry, and supporting research and monitoring to better understand the effects of harvesting fynbos species.

Flower Valley’s Sustainable Harvesting Programme was launched to support responsible action in the fynbos sector. Supported by the WWF-SA Nedbank Green Trust and the European Union, Flower Valley has been working with landowners and harvesters across an area of 75,000 hectares in the Cape Floral Kingdom, encouraging environmental best practice, and social and labour compliance.

To read the full article in Business Day, click here.

 

Our Sustainable Harvesting Programme is looking for 4 field monitors

Flower Valley’s Sustainable Harvesting Programme

Flower Valley’s Sustainable Harvesting Programme is in need of 4 field monitors. They will assist in using a new monitoring method as well as capturing data in the fynbos veld. These positions are short term (for a 5-month period) and asks to be based in the Gansbaai/Stanford area.

 

The responsibilities of the positions include:

  1. Assisting veld harvesters to use a new monitoring method and checking that they are following the sustainable harvesting principles.
  2. Recording field assessment data correctly.
  3. Completing independent fynbos assessments and capturing this information on a computer.

 

Minimum qualifications & experience:

  • Basic computer skills (Word and Google)
  • Matric/Grade 12
  • Valid driver’s license (Code 8/10)
  • Self Motivated
  • Responsible
  • Good physical health
  • Love for nature and working in the outdoors
  • Good people relations

 

Desired qualifications & experience:

  • Previous work/training with a conservation agency (for example: SANParks, CapeNature, Grootbos-Greenfuture College)
  • Off-roading 4×4 experience
  • Speaking a second language (Afrikaans/IsiXhosa)
  • Knowledge of fynbos/harvesting

 

A market-related salary will be negotiated, dependent on qualifications and experience, for the position.

 

Deadline: 16 June 2017

 

Please send your CV, a cover letter, and two contactable references to info@flowervalley.co.za or fax 028 425 2855.

For more information, contact 028 425 2218 during office hours.

Making fynbos monitoring ‘easy’

fynbos monitoring

Fynbos monitoring

There’s nothing simple about monitoring fynbos populations – like seeing how fynbos harvesting may affect fynbos in an area over time. So the Flower Valley team has teamed up with scientists and students to find ways to more easily see how fynbos changes in the long term.

Fynbos harvesters and teams head out into the veld daily, picking fynbos species that are used in bouquets, and ultimately sold around the world.

While tons of fynbos is exported out of the country every year, scientists have only been able to use expensive and time-consuming methods to see how this impacts on the landscape itself.

 

Using what we have

Now the Flower Valley Sustainable Harvesting Programme (SHP) team is working with experts, to better use some of the tools we already have.

As a member of the programme, a landowner or harvester is shown how to complete a field assessment on the land. This assessment looks at how well harvesters are complying to environmental standards (as captured in our SHP Code of Best Practice).

Now this field assessment has been reworked to include a monitoring aspect, like including estimates of how abundantly a fynbos species may occur in an area.

 

Support from Stellenbosch University

The SHP team received help from Conservation Ecology students from Stellenbosch University, under the leadership of Flower Valley Trustee, Rhoda Malgas.

The students helped to test the field methods used in the assessment, to see how practical and easy they were to use.

According to Kirsten Retief, the Conservation Extension and Applied Research Coordinator at Flower Valley, the work so far will make it easier for landowners and harvesters to see changes in their veld over time.

 

Combining science and practicality

“The methods we develop have got to be easy for anyone to use. But they must still have scientific integrity. The data we collect from these field assessments will be used to spot fynbos trends over time. And to react quickly if the assessments point to any areas of concern,” she said.

The Sustainable Harvesting Programme is Flower Valley’s flagship programme. The programme gives support to landowners and harvesters to meet best practice environmental standards, as well as social and labour standards. The aim is to help the niche fynbos industry become even more attractive as an ethical industry – while ensuring fynbos landscapes are protected.

The programme is funded by the WWF Nedbank Green Trust and the European Union.

Answering tough fynbos questions

fynbos questions

Lea Cohen

Flower Valley is introducing new skills and capacity to answer difficult questions around fynbos use. With the help of a database expert, the team is now able to use internet-based databases, to help analyse trends in fynbos.

We’ve worked with fantastic volunteers, such as Lea Cohen, who shared her knowledge and expertise on open source database management systems with the Sustainable Harvesting Programme.

 

Experience on 3 continents

Lea has varied experience working and volunteering for a number of conservation NGOs on three continents: North America, South America and Africa. Her impressive tertiary background includes Geography, completed at UCLA, and an MSc in Conservation Biology completed at UCT. She has since specialized in GIS and data management systems.

She introduced the Sustainable Harvesting team to programmes used by international companies to manage large datasets and geospatial information.

This will allow the Sustainable Harvesting team to use information we’re collecting to answer more complex questions concerning fynbos use across the Cape Floristic Region. Watch this space!

Stellenbosch University visits Flower Valley

Stellenbosch University

Conservation Ecology students from Stellenbosch University

Flower Valley’s Sustainable Harvesting team hosted the Conservation Ecology students from Stellenbosch University last week, testing the field assessment set out by the Sustainable Harvesting Programme. This visit formed part of a practical component for the Sustainability Course run by one of Flower Valley’s Trustees, Rhoda Malgas.

The class assisted the programme to test the field assessment used to determine how well harvesters comply with the Code of Practice for sustainable harvesting. They were enthusiastic to test the method despite the difficult field conditions which harvesters have to deal with every day for their living. The students also found the pocket field guides very useful and photos were taken to assist with future demonstrations for training with the SHP members.

The class will also be reviewing current literature relating to the Code of Practice to ensure that the Sustainable Harvesting Programme stays current with newly published research. The Sustainable Harvesting team had such a wonderful time with Rhoda and her class, especially for contributing to the programme with their ideas and insights.

Oom Alfred’s fynbos legacy

Oom Alfred Swarts

Oom Alfred Swarts

Our former Harvesting Manager, Oom Alfred Swarts has died aged 62. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2015, and died at his home in Stanford on Saturday 17 December.

Oom Alfred had worked for Flower Valley Conservation Trust since 2005. He joined as the team leader overseeing the harvesting team that at the time picked fynbos on Flower Valley Farm.

In 2015, the harvesting team became an independent contracting team, operating as a small business and picking fynbos as per the principles of the Sustainable Harvesting Programme for local pack sheds. Oom Alfred retired from the business at the end of last year due to illness.

Oom Alfred had been a Walker Bay region resident for many years, working at Flower Valley’s neighbouring farm, Fynbos Retreat, since the 1980s.

Oom Alfred will be remembered for his incredibly kind nature, his love and knowledge of fynbos, and his leadership.

He is survived by his wife, Jolene, his three children and three grandchildren.

Encouraging sustainable fynbos in London

The Flower Valley team travelled to a chilly London in December – to bring partners in ethical trade and sustainable production together.

The workshop, held on 1 December at the Royal Geographical Society, was co-hosted with the Universities of Newcastle and Durham. The aim was to share best practice in sustainable production, looking at the supply chains that provide products to retailers.

Flower Valley Conservation Trust represented those suppliers and packsheds who are picking fynbos as members of the Sustainable Harvesting Programme. Other industries represented included the cocoa industry and the garment sector.

 

More than compliance

According to speakers at the event, it’s vital to look beyond compliance, but to rather understand how acting ethically is benefiting workers and the environment. Dionne Harrison of Impactt Ltd said, “Compliance is important, but more important is the impact. Has it made a difference to anybody?” It’s therefore important to measure the impact on the ground.

Professor Stephanie Barrientos of the University of Manchester said that acting ethically is more than ticking off a checklist. “It’s not just about compliance and better conditions, but also about smallholders and people making a decent living out of what they do.”

She said workers and suppliers earning a decent living will be encouraged to remain in a sector, and not leave for better opportunities. This in turn will ensure key skills are not lost.

Business depends on biodiversity

The keynote address was delivered by the CEO of Fauna & Flora International (Flower Valley’s founding partner), Mark Rose, who said business is underpinned by biodiversity.

“All business depends in some way on ecosystem services, such as clean air and water and healthy soils. As biodiversity declines, so does the health of an ecosystem and its ability to provide businesses with the goods and services they depend on.”

Lesley Richardson and Kathy O’Grady of Flower Valley spoke of the successes and challenges in the fynbos industry. Fynbos landscapes are threatened in some cases by poor land management, including invasive vegetation. Through the Sustainable Harvesting Programme, Flower Valley works with partners across the fynbos supply chain, to encourage ethical actions. The Programme is supported by the European Union and the WWF Nedbank Green Trust.

New support for fynbos conservation

Kirsten Retief

Kirsten Retief joins the team

The Sustainable Harvesting Programme has a new team member. Kirsten Retief joins the team as the Conservation Extension and Applied Research Coordinator. She will meet with landowners and harvesters, providing support to meet environmental best practice principles in the fynbos sector.

Kirsten previously worked for the Endangered Wildlife Trust, working within the Wildlife and Energy Programme, based at Strandfontein on the West Coast. Her role here included monitoring the impacts of wind turbines on bird and bat populations.

Prior to this, she worked as a Research Assistant at the SA National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). In collaboration with the University of Cape Town, Kirsten worked with Dr Adam West and Michele Pfab on forensic methods to curb cycad poaching. South Africa is well known for its cycad diversity. But cycad poaching from the wild is rife in the country.

She graduated in Zoology and Ecology from UCT, and then completed her Honours in Botany and her Masters in Conservation Biology. The Masters degree at UCT is a course for which only 14 students are selected globally.

Throughout her career, Kirsten has been inspired by fynbos heavyweights like Prof Timm Hoffman, Prof William Bond, Prof Jeremy Midgley, and more…

Kirsten says she is excited about joining the Flower Valley team, and is looking forward to the challenge. She will be based at the Bredasdorp office, although her role will ensure she covers much of the Cape Floral Kingdom.

Kirsten’s position is supported by the WWF-SA Nedbank Green Trust and the European Union.

For more info, email: kirsten@flowervalley.co.za; or Tel. 028 425 2218.

New invasive species laws impact landowners

Alien clearing

Alien clearing

Landowners and municipalities are now required to have a plan to control invasive species on their properties, and have an obligation to remove these species.

New National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (NEMBA) regulations came into force on 1 October 2016. According to the new laws, invasive species are now considered a legal liability to property owners.

The new regulations also states that property sellers must inform potential buyers of invasive species that are found on the property, thereby encouraging estate agents to play a role in encouraging the sale of properties that are clear of invasive species.

An updated invasive species list was also published, replacing older lists. The new list categorises 379 invasive terrestial and fresh water plant species, and a further 4 invasive marine plant species. The species are categorised as Category 1a, 1b, 2 or 3 species.

Flower Valley has coordinated the Agulhas Biodiversity Initiative (ABI) Alien Clearing Programme over the past three years, working with  government, landowners and project participants to clear invasive species on around 30,000 hectares a year.

The programme forms part of the Department of Environmental Affairs’ Land User Incentive Scheme. While the Department provided the funding for the clearing work and the transport, land users and other stakeholders involved provided co-funding commitments and ensured the programme was rolled out successfully.

The programme ended during 2016. Negotiations are ongoing with the Department for the next three year cycle. Annual clearing plans have been developed with landowners and other stakeholders for the next three years, prioritising biodiversity-rich areas that require follow-up clearing work. It’s hoped clearing operations will start within the coming weeks.