As the world looks for ways to tackle both an unprecedented health crisis and the ongoing climate crisis, the Flower Valley Conservation Trust in the Western Cape is working hard to bring to light the importance of protecting fynbos through sustainable land use.
Established in 1991, the Flower Valley Conservation Trust is making sure that it creates a fynbos-filled future for life and livelihoods. The trust is a non-profit organisation based on Flower Valley Farm, just outside Gansbaai, and aims to protect natural fynbos landscapes and improve livelihoods across the Fynbos biome.
Fynbos is part of the Cape floral kingdom – one of six global plant kingdoms. Many fynbos species have been exported for decades. Still, certain species, such as the king protea, Protea compacta and silver brunia are currently trending in Europe, Asia, Russia and other international markets. They have unusual aesthetic appeal and last far longer than non-fynbos flowers.
With the planet experiencing severe climate change threats and unsustainable natural resources use, the WWF Nedbank Green Trust is supporting organisations such as the Flower Valley Conservation Trust in making sure that conservation efforts for land continue to meet the current demand for fynbos.'Through the Sustainable Harvesting Programme, we can demonstrate the possibility of harvesting fynbos in a commercially viable way, creating green businesses and decent green jobs for people living in the fynbos region,' says Roger Bailey, Acting Executive Director at the Flower Valley Conservation Trust. His love of fynbos developed when he was a child growing up in Bot River in the Overberg.
Bailey adds: 'The protection and harvesting of fynbos are vital for the growth and development of the local economy. Through the support of the WWF Nedbank Green Trust, we can support livelihoods through the development of Flower Valley’s internal management system.
'This system helps micro fynbos harvesting businesses on a journey of continuous improvement – which includes compliance with legal requirements, ethical business principles, and good harvesting practices. As a result, wild fynbos harvesting businesses offer and supply ethically harvested fynbos products to the market, supporting their livelihoods and benefiting the environment through their practices.'
Celebrating 30 years of nature conservation, the WWF Nedbank Green Trust has helped raise R300 million to support initiatives inland, freshwater, marine, climate, species and leadership. It has been through the help of countless South Africans that the trust has been able to support various land conservation projects through organisations such as the Flower Valley Conservation Trust.
Like any other organisation, Flower Valley is and continues to be affected by Covid-19 and the impact of the national lockdown.
Bailey says: 'While support was ongoing for our invasive alien clearing teams in the Flower Valley Alien Clearing Programme, the fynbos harvesting industry came to a complete standstill as a result of lockdown. Harvesters were therefore unable to earn an income during this time. Even now, things are not yet back to normal for the trust.
'The economy may be opening up, but the trust is now ensuring that we adapt to this new normal – to help support sustainable green economies that ensure social, environmental and economic benefits to communities. That means continuing to respond with even more vigour to challenges in pursuit of our vision: A fynbos-filled future for life and livelihoods.'
How to support the work
For 21 years, the Flower Valley Conservation Trust has demonstrated and continues to demonstrate the importance of protecting fynbos through the sustainable use of land. While nature conservation continues to thrive through the work of the WWF Nedbank Green Trust, South Africans are urged to play their part in contributing to a healthier environment. Through the Nedbank Green Affinity Programme, Nedbank has opened the doors of conservation and made it easy for everyone to support nature conservation at no cost to them.
To support the WWF Nedbank Green Trust at no cost to you, visit www.nedbankgreen.co.za or call Nedbank on 0860 555 111 for more information.