Community and Biodiversity: Fun at the Fynbos Festival
APR 14, 2020
Fun at the Fynbos Festival
On 15 March our BotSoc national team headed out from the office to Cape Town’s first ever Fynbos Festival, held at the Range on Orpen road in Tokai. This wonderful initiative was spearheaded by the Friends of Tokai Park, organised in partnership with and support from the Chilled Market @The Range, Greenpop, FynbosLIFE, Stellenbosch University’s Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology, the Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers (CREW), the British Ecological Society, the Cape Town Environmental Education Trust (CTEET) and the Botanical Society of South Africa.
Offering entertainment and environmental education for all ages, the main aim of the Fynbos Festival was to raise awareness among the urban Cape Town community of the value, beauty and biodiversity of fynbos.
The City of Cape Town sits at the centre of the Cape Floristic Region, one of the most biodiverse environments on the planet. Few realise that the greater Cape Town area sits on its own unique fynbos vegetation, including the Critically Endangered Cape Flats Sand Fynbos, of which less than 1% is formally conserved.
Along with providing fun for all the family, the Fynbos Festival aims to raise awareness around the threats facing our beautiful and biodiverse fynbos as well as about the work of the conservation organisations working in South Africa’s Fynbos Biome. Tokai was chosen as a venue for the Fynbos Festival to raise awareness of the importance of Tokai Park as a key conservation area for Cape Flats Sand Fynbos and Peninsula Granite Fynbos.
Multiple members of the BotSoc national team and our Chair of Council Marinda Nel spent the day at the Fynbos Festival, ready to answer any questions from event attendees about the work of BotSoc, from how to become a member to tips on gardening with South Africa’s stunning indigenous flora. Free copies of our quarterly journal Veld & Flora were distributed as well as environmental education learning materials for children.
The Fynbos Festival highlighted the sheer diversity of people and organisations working to conserve, use and celebrate our biodiverse fynbos. In the culinary space Distillers & Union and Darling Honey offered up Fynbos gin tasting and Veld & Sea had on sale gluten free pancakes, festooned with edible flowers, wild flowered syrups, preserves and jams. They also hosted demonstrations by wild chef Gemma Hancock on how to incorporate wild flavours into food and drinks.
Artwork and photography were well represented at the Fynbos Festival too, with opportunities aplenty for visitors of all ages to get creative, from flower crown making for both children and adults to sunbird fynbos art and creating fynbos mini beasts with clay run by Julia Budden from Nature Heart. CTEET had a great range of activities for learners too, encouraging children to ‘Join the Race to Save the Fynbos’.
Photographer Morgan Trimble and artists Isabel Mertz and Roelf Daling teamed up to offer a variety of different artworks including photographic prints showcasing the stunning and imperilled flora and wildlife of the Cape Flats, greetings cards and original paintings and sculpture inspired by and in celebration of fynbos.
There was plenty to inspire would-be citizen scientists too, who can play a crucial role in helping to document and conserve South Africa’s fynbos biodiversity. The University of Cape Town had representatives from the Plant Conservation Unit’s RePhotoSA project, which encourages photographers to get out into nature to take repeated matched photographs of the same scene to help researchers to document environmental change across South Africa.
The biodiversity recording app iNaturalist was also represented, with experts on hand to encourage users to install the app and get started documenting biodiversity in their backyards, feeding important information to our scientific community to inform conservation planning. Members of CREW were also there, explaining how volunteers can contribute to monitoring rare and threatened plants in their local area.
There was also plenty to keep green fingered gardeners happy, with beautiful locally indigenous plants on sale and advice aplenty from FynbosLIFE. As we come into the season for planting indigenous bulbs in South Africa’s winter rainfall area, Veld & Fynbos had a fantastic range of indigenous bulbs on sale, as well as indigenous plants, handmade soaps and fynbos essential oils.
Our local community conservationists were out in force too, with representatives from the Friends of Tokai Park, the Friends of Blaauwberg Conservation Area, the Friends of Kenilworth Racecourse and urban greening charity Communitree. All of these organisations undertake invaluable conservation work across the Cape Town area in our urban conservation areas and other green spaces. This was a great opportunity for community members to learn more about their work, how to support them and get involved.
All in all the Fynbos Festival was a wonderful success, with all the participants and attendees unanimous in recommending that this be an event that should happen again. We look forward to gathering again in the future when it is safe once again to do so to celebrate our fynbos biodiversity, conservation and community.
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