What we do
Natural Resource Management
Sustainable Harvesting Programme
Alien Clearing Programme
The Sustainable Harvesting Programme is one leg of our Natural Resource Management Programme (the other is Alien Clearing Programme).
Our mission is to conserve fynbos landscapes, livelihoods and connect people to nature through collaboration, learning and demonstration.
Flower Valley Conservation Trust has adopted a people-centric approach to conservation. We know that people are the biggest influencers of change. And that’s why we approach solutions using people, planet and profit perspectives in our Natural Resource Management work. This holistic approach towards true sustainability makes Flower Valley Conservation Trust unique.
The Sustainable Harvesting Programme
Within the rural areas of the Overberg, opportunities to make a living are fairly limited. Fynbos – especially the harvesting thereof for the cut-flower industry – provides an important job opportunity for people living here.
Harvesters, mostly women from rural communities, head into fynbos landscapes every day to pick wild flowers. These teams most often operate as micro businesses – and they sell their fynbos to larger suppliers, who either export the fynbos (in bouquets), or sell them locally to retailers.
The Programme was established in 2003
A journey of continuous improvement
The programme assists small suppliers (like these micro businesses) through a journey of continuous improvement, where they are assessed against ethical, environmental and industry standards. We provide support to these businesses based on the needs highlighted following the assessment.
– Kirsten Watson
Why is this needed?
Degradation of habitat through poor management practices – like poor wild harvesting practices and fynbos poaching, is a fynbos extinction risk.
Poor compliance to social and labour standards is a recognised threat, as past research shows. That’s why there’s an urgent need to provide support to these small enterprises, to help them sustain their current markets.
The traceability of product, accurate data and verification of good harvesting practices is a challenge for the industry.
And recent research shows that the viability of small flower harvesting businesses is decreasing, even though the market has seen annual increases in value. This not only risks livelihoods; it also increases the risk of over-harvesting.
That’s why our Sustainable Harvesting Programme promotes a sustainable practice for people and nature, custodianship of our natural systems, and opportunities for empowering local communities.
The Overberg is the core focus area for our Natural Resource Management (including our Sustainable Harvesting Programme), although our footprint does extend beyond this boundary.
Our key focus areas in our Sustainable Harvesting Programme are:
- To promote assurance of good practice to demonstrate sustainable resource use.
- To identify opportunities and promote empowerment of local communities within the green economy.
- To engage landowners, partners and agencies in applying best natural resource management practices.
- To promote research and development for mitigating impacts of fynbos harvesting.
- And to raise awareness on challenges and advancements within the industry, and advocate for action and accountability.
How can we help you?
Become a member of the Sustainable Harvesting Programme.
We can support you and your team through an environmental and ethical journey of improvement, to meet market requirements.
Assess the quality of fynbos harvesting on your property (or of your team).
This helps you better see the health of your Fynbos landscapes, and to understand whether harvesting has benefited, or harmed, your veld. Our team can also give guidance to improve harvesting techniques. (This support is in the Overberg)
Manage and monitor your farm or harvesting area.
A specialist mapper can provide GIS solutions to you, to help you improve your natural areas. (This support is available in the Overberg).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Flower Valley’s Sustainable Harvesting team hosted the Conservation Ecology students from Stellenbosch University for the whole week, testing the field assessment set out by the Sustainable Harvesting Programme.
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.
The Flower Valley team travelled to a chilly London in December – to bring partners in ethical trade and sustainable production together.
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.
Landowner 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.
Support our cause
Act today for fynbos
Fynbos faces extreme threats.
Many fynbos species have already gone extinct.
Others literally stand on the brink of extinction.
Act today, to stop the extinction spiral of this truly South African floral heritage.
Fynbos faces extreme threats. Many fynbos species have already gone extinct. Others literally stand on the brink of extinction. Act today, to stop the extinction spiral of this truly South African floral heritage.