Biodiversity in the Cape Floristic Kingdom (CFK) is worth vast amounts to the South African economy. The wild flower industry alone is worth R150 million per annum – 80% of this as foreign exchange. The Cape deciduous fruit industry, that is worth R1 billion per annum and provides 80 000 jobs, is dependant on bees for pollination. In turn these bees are reliant on food supplies in the Fynbos during the winter months.
The eco-tourism industry in the western Cape provides employment for 180 000 persons and provides 13% of the regions gross income. 7.2 billion cubic meters of water is obtained annually from mountain catchments within the CFK, with an estimated value of R3.6 billion per annum and the value of well-managed mountain fynbos has been estimated at R300 million per 4 square kilometres. By ensuring that protected areas are set-aside in the CFK, where no form of interference or development will take place, we are ensuring that the often unaccounted for benefits of wilderness and the environment are preserved.
With all of the above mentioned attributes it is abundantly clear that the preservation of the CFK is necessary for both the economy and well being of peoples living in the area. With the rapid transformation of the CFK and the resultant loss in biodiversity it is vital that areas of land within the CFK are set aside and that within these protected places, areas of wilderness are designated to allow for the highest form of protection. Wilderness often falls within the centre of a protected area and is usually buffered by other protected area zones. This means that the purist forms of the environment are protected, thus allowing for biodiversity to flourish and providing a source bank for the above listed economic benefits to the South African economy.
CapeNature, a TMF partner, is custodian of the CFK wilderness areas and sees the biodiversity economy as an economy that denotes the values of the myriad of life forms and resources that makes up our natural heritage. These include life-support systems, such as maintaining water cycles and good quality air, the supply of materials and energy and the functions such as the absorption of pollution and waste, where the environment acts as a sink. The maintenance and protection of endemic species is also imperative to ensure that their bio prospecting potentials are maximised. Without protected areas many of the biodiversity economies will fail, causing a resultant loss to the Western Capes economy.
First Published: 20/4/15