The ‘Colloquium on conservation of the natural vegetation of the Cape Floristic Region’ hosted by the RSSAf and the Centre for Invasion Biology (C·I·B) at Stellenbosch on 13th April 2015 was ‘a great success’. One invaluable outcome was that it afforded scientists and decision makers the opportunity to get together and also that the theme of the event sparked those from other parts of South Africa to consider organising something similar.
A compilation of a monograph from the day’s events for publication in the Transactions will be available later in the year and the entire proceedings were video recorded and there are plans afoot to make these available online.
THE IDEA : This year marks the 70th anniversary of the publication in 1945 of C.L. Wicht’s landmark paper on “The preservation of the vegetation of the South Western Cape”, which appeared as a special publication of the Royal Society of South Africa. Among other things, Wicht’s publication made proposals for protected areas, identified the threats posed by invasive alien plants, and it made the first serious suggestion that fire could be used to manage fynbos. Much has happened since then, and this Colloquium as organised to review both the history that led to our current situation, and the management challenges that we will face in future.
THE COLLOQUIUM : The speakers included Prof Jane Carruthers FRSSAf who spoke on ‘A historical perspective of the importance of Wicht’s publication for the management and protection of Cape vegetation’ This was followed by Dr Fred Kruger on ‘Promoting research in support of management’, Professor Richard Cowling on ‘The development of a protected area network in the Cape Floristic Region’; Genevieve Pence , a Conservation Planning Scientist at CapeNature, who spoke on ‘Expanding Cape Nature’s protected area network to include unprotected vegetation types and species ‘. Also from CapeNature, Guy Palmer , Scientific Manager: Biodiversity, who spoke on ‘The achievement and significance of World Heritage Site status for fynbos protected areas. The morning session closed with Professor Brian van Wilgen of the CIB who provided some startling revelations in his topical talk on ‘Fire management in the Cape Floristic Region’.
After a splendid lunch in the historic Lanzerac dining room, Professor David Richardson FRSSAf, Director of the Centre for Invasion Biology, spoke on ‘Invasive alien species management in the Cape Floristic Region’. This was followed by Domitilla Raimondo, Threatened Plant Programme Manager at SANBI, on ‘The threatened status of endemic fynbos plants’, Professor Guy Midgley FRSSAf on ‘The potential implications of global change and resource use for the conservation of the Cape Floristic Region’s ecosystems’. John Donaldson, Chief Director – Biodiversity Research, Assessment and Monitoring at SANBI provided the closing remarks.
Among those attending were representatives of the City of Cape Town, SANParks, Cape Nature, the Universities of Cape Town and Stellenbosch, the Nelson Mandela Met. University, Rhodes University, ‘Working for Water’, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON), the Fynbos Forum, the Centre for Invasion Biology, World Wide Fund, CSIR, University of the Western Cape, CPUT and others.