Harvesting fynbos for sustainable communities and ecosystems

Photo Credit: Flower Valley Trust images by Kobus Tollig


Fynbos is the collective name given to the shrub-like vegetation found in the south-western and southern Cape of South Africa. Fynbos is a major component of the Cape Floral Kingdom and has very high species diversity. For example, because of fynbos, Table Mountain alone hosts as many plant species as all of the United Kingdom, making the Cape more botanically diverse than the tropical rainforests of South America. That’s why the Cape Floristic Region is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Fynbos faces numerous threats, including invasive alien vegetation, agricultural and urban development, climate change and too-frequent fires. Since fynbos is such a crucial part of the South African landscape, the WWF Nedbank Green Trust partnered with the Flower Valley Conservation Trust to find ways to protect this habitat while sustainably and responsibly using it to better the communities that depend on fynbos harvesting on the Agulhas Plain and throughout the Cape Floristic Region.

The Flower Valley Conservation Trust, with support from the WWF Nedbank Green Trust, developed and implemented the Sustainable Harvesting Programme (SHP), which focuses on the responsible use and harvesting of wild fynbos. That in turn ensures the resilience of natural fynbos habitats and creates and protects livelihoods for the people who harvest here.

The SHP promotes sustainably picked fynbos, carefully managed fynbos landscapes, and fair social and labour practice. So the Flower Valley team works with fynbos suppliers, helping them on a journey of continuous improvement. This is a stepup approach where suppliers are helped to reach full compliance. The SHP gives these suppliers both environmental and labour support by providing training to suppliers and pickers and creating market recognition for suppliers and exporters.

The SHP also has a research and monitoring function. This is key to ensuring the SHP continues to improve by using the latest available data and science, while also educating those who harvest the fynbos on how to do so responsibly. It’s through actions like these that the survival of this uniquely South African habitat can be guaranteed, as well as the longevity of the jobs dependent on the fynbos.

For more information visit www.flowervalley.org.za.