World Heritage Site Status
In June 2004 the Cape Floristic Region (CFR), which spans the eastern and western Cape, was declared to be: of universal significance to humanity and was inscribed as a Natural World Heritage Site.
The site is a serial nomination and is made up of eight separate areas that are considered to be representative samples of the entire region and is managed by four different authorities namely South African National Parks (SANParks), CapeNature, the Eastern Cape Nature Conservation Board (ECNCB) and the South African Biodiversity Institute (SANBI).
- Table Mountain National Park and Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, managed by SANParks and SANBI respectively. This is the first time a botanical garden has been included in Natural World Heritage Site nomination.
- Cedarburg Wilderness Area – CapeNature
- Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area – CapeNature
- Boland Mountain Complex - CapeNature
- De Hoop Nature Reserve - CapeNature
- Bosmansbos Wilderness Area - CapeNature
- Swartberg Complex - CapeNature
- Baviaanskloof Protected Area – ECNCB
Why the CFR was declared a Natural World Heritage Site
The CFR is the smallest and richest of the six floral kingdoms that occur on earth. It is also the only kingdom confined to one continent and is home to an amazing 8 200 plant species - of which around 80% are fynbos. The significance of this hits home when you consider that the British Isles, 3 ½ times the size, boasts less than 1 500 plant species.
Many of the plants that occur here are endemic – that means that they occur nowhere else on earth. To add to this there are around 1,406 threatened plant species, 300 of which are endangered or critically endangered and 29 plant species are already extinct. It is this combination of high diversity and levels of threat from issues like urbanization, poor fire management and alien species that makes the CFR the world’s hottest floral hot-spot. Add to this the increase in global warming and pollution.
South Africa’s World Heritage Sites
The City of Cape Town now boasts no less than three World Heritage sites:
- Table Mountain National Park
- Robben Island
The other sites in SA are the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, Sterkfontein – Cradle of Humankind, Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape and the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park.
For more information on World Heritage Sites, the Cape Floristic Region and threatened ecosystems please visit:
- South African Biodiversity Institute: www.sanbi.org/biodiversity
- IUCN’s Red Data list: www.redlist.org and http://whc.unesco.org
- The Botanical Society: www.botanicalsociety.org.za
- Conservation International: www.biodiversityhotspots.org
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