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A blaze of colour in the Rainbow Nation

South Africa's Cape Floristic Region is one of the world’s six botanical kingdoms. Fynbos, the heath-like vegetation characteristic of the region is the most botanically rich habitat on earth, with an even higher level of plant diversity than tropical rainforests. The flowers of the fynbos are at great risk from agricultural and urban development, afforestation and uncontrolled bushfires. Land purchase and protection are therefore essential to safeguard their future.

Photo: Harvesting wild flowers in the fynbos is paying off for wildlife and people. Credit: Juan Pablo Moreiras.A major grant from, among others, Fauna & Flora International’s Arcadia Fund enabled Fauna & Flora International to purchase Flower Valley, a globally important area of fynbos at the southernmost tip of Africa. The purchase saved 550 hectares of fynbos from the encroaching threats of vineyard cultivation, invasive alien trees and housing development.

Flower Valley is both a key conservation asset and a main source of livelihood for the nearby community who harvest selected flowers seasonally. Surplus income is re-invested in alien species clearance, the purchase of harvested wild flowers from local landowners and farmers, the development of marketing plans, support for micro-enterprise activities based on fynbos products and the creation of an Early Learning Centre and adult education facilities.

South African National Parks is using the Flower Valley project as a model to support fynbos conservation through the establishment and development of the Greater Agulhas National Park. Fauna & Flora International is building collaborative links with local, national and international agencies (including the Botanical Society, Kirstenbosch, the Institute for Plant Conservation and WWF) and has already formed partnerships with Cape Nature Conservation and Grootbos Private Nature Reserve.

Recognizing the importance of linking business and biodiversity and having a strong trading operation to support the conservation and community initiatives in Flower Valley, Shell has donated funds to improve working and living conditions for the community, support niche market development and upgrade operational equipment.

Most importantly, these improvements have enabled Flower Valley to become a strong player in the marketplace for sustainably produced flower bouquet products, which are sold in supermarkets in South Africa through Pick 'n Pay and in the U.K. through Marks & Spencer.

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