Vulnerability Index

Sustainable Harvesting Programme toolkit

What is the Vulnerability Index?

The Vulnerability Index (or VI as it’s known), helps to determine which fynbos species can be harvested, and which shouldn’t be picked on the Agulhas Plain.

The VI forms part of the Sustainable Harvesting Programme toolkit.

Here’s how it works:

The index lists 150 species found on the Agulhas Plain. Around half of these are already picked for markets around the world. The other half are not yet picked – but have the potential to be harvested over time. Botanists examined each of these species, based on biological criteria. They created a guideline setting out how each of these species would be affected if they were harvested. 

(0 being safe to harvest, and 11 indicating a great risk should the species be picked).

This is based on a scale of 0 – 11 


Based on the VI score, we can therefore see:

  • Which species can be picked;
  • Which species can be picked, but must be monitored because it could become increasingly threatened;
  • Which species must not be picked because it could result in the species going extinct.

Our Sustainable Harvesting Programme team, and the conservation authorities (CapeNature) use the VI in conjunction with the SANBI Red Data List, to determine which species can and can’t be harvested.

The VI differs from the SANBI Red Data List in that it:

– Only looks at the impact of harvesting (fynbos faces other threat as well)

– Currently only looks at natural fynbos populations on the Agulhas Plain, where most harvesting occurs (there are plans to develop new Vulnerability Indices for other regions).

The Vulnerability Index has been recognised internationally as an important contributor to conservation in the fynbos biome.

See our Vulnerability Index score for some of those fynbos species harvested on the Agulhas Plain in our Field Guide For Wild Flower Harvesting.

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