The BWI is a pioneering partnership between the South African wine
industry and the conservation sector. The goals are to minimise the
further loss of threatened natural habitat, and to contribute to
sustainable wine production, through the adoption of biodiversity
guidelines by the South African wine industry.
Biodiversity & Wine Initiative
Conservation International : Cape Biodiversity Hotspot
Evergreen fire-dependent shrublands characterize the landscape
of the Cape Floristic Region, one of the world's five Mediterranean
hotspots. Home to the greatest non-tropical concentration of higher
plant species in the world, the region is the only hotspot that
encompasses an entire floral kingdom, and holds five of South
Africa's 12 endemic plant families and 160 endemic genera. The
geometric tortoise, the Cape sugar-bird, and a number of antelope
species are characteristic of the Cape Floristic hotspot.
coastline along the far southwestern tip of the African continent, the
78,555 km˛ the Cape Floral Kingdom is dominated by fynbos (an Afrikaans
word for "fine bush"), a shrubland comprising hard-leafed,
evergreen, and fire-prone shrubs that thrives on the region's rocky or
sandy nutrient-poor soils. Although the region was once covered by lush
rain forest, climate changes around 15 million years ago resulted in
the retreat of the forests. Trees were replaced by flammable
sclerophyllous plants, and periodic fires became an integral ecosystem
process. The Cape also includes several non-fynbos vegetation types. Of these, Renosterveld is the
most extensive, covering some 20,000 km˛. This plant community
comprises a low shrub layer, usually dominated by the renosterbos with a ground layer of grasses and seasonally active bulbs.
Today, trees are very rare in pristine Cape landscapes and true
forests occupy a mere 3,850 km˛, mostly in moist, fire-protected sites
on the southern coastal forelands and lower mountain slopes. The Cape
forests, 30 - 100 feet tall, are essentially outliers of the Afromontane
forests of the high mountains of tropical Africa.
What is biodiversity?
Biodiversity refers to all the genes, species, ecosystems and processes
that allow life to persist over time. When biodiversity is intact,
species and ecosystems are resilient, enabling them to adapt to
environmental changes. When biodiversity is lost, nature responds
unpredictably, making it difficult for growers to plan production and
protect natural resources.
Why a Biodiversity & Wine Initiative?
The Cape Floral Kingdom (CFK) is the smallest yet richest plant kingdom
on earth, and has earned international recognition as a global
biodiversity hotspot and as South Africa's newest World Heritage Site.
However, the CFK is under increasing threat from agriculture, urban
development and invasive alien species, with only 9% of the unique
renosterveld and lowland fynbos ecosystems remaining, and much of the
succulent karoo also under threat. Since 80% of the CFK is privately
owned, landowner participation in conservation efforts is essential.
The most effective method of reaching landowners is through the
agricultural industries that they supply.
South Africa is the world's eighth largest producer of wine,
contributing 3.5% of the global wine production. Because approximately
90% of wine production occurs within the CFK, concern is mounting that
some of the region's most vulnerable natural habitat might be targeted
for vineyard expansion. Following an initial study by the Botanical
Society of South Africa and Conservation International, the wine
industry and the conservation sector have embarked on a pioneering
partnership to conserve the rich biodiversity of the CFK.
The BWI presents a great opportunity to both the wine and conservation
sectors. The wine industry benefits from leveraging the biodiversity of
the CFK as a competitive marketing advantage, and from using the BWI as
a tool to achieve sustainable natural resource management, as
prioritised in the Wine Industry Strategy Plan. The conservation sector
benefits from pioneering biodiversity best practices in the wine
industry, and from conserving the CFK's most threatened habitats for
The Biodiversity and Wine Initiative aims to:
Prevent further loss of habitat in critical sites
Increase the total area set aside as natural habitat in contractual protected areas
changes in farming practices that enhance the suitability of vineyards
as habitat for biodiversity, and reduce farming practices that have
negative impacts on biodiversity, both in the vineyards and in
surrounding natural habitat
marketing opportunities for the wine industry by positioning the
biodiversity of the CFK, and the industry's proactive stance on
biodiversity, as a unique selling point to differentiate Brand South
Green Mountain Eco Route - the first ever biodiversity wine route
All route members belong to the
Groenlandberg Conservancy. All wine growers and producers are
Biodiversity Wine Initiative members or champions, or in the process of
becoming BWI members. All landowners (including those not involved in
growing grapes) will annually complete the BWI self-assessment form and
state their conservation commitment. The Conservancy secretary will
monitor the progress of this.
All route members are committed to
profitable and ethical business principles.All route members are
committed to the social upliftment of historically-disadvantaged
communities by using local people and resources throughout the route.
A biodiversity wine route will expose visitors to both the wine and
the biodiversity experience of each participating producer. Tours of
the natural vegetation will communicate the producer's story and the
role of biodiversity conservation in sustainable wine production.
The Cape Floral Kingdom (CFK) is the smallest yet richest plant
kingdom on earth, and has earned international recognition as both a
global biodiversity hotspot and South Africa’s newest World Heritage
Site. However, the CFK is under increasing threat from
agriculture,Urban development and invasive alien species, with only 9%
of the unique renosterveld and lowland fynbos ecosystems remaining.
Since 80% of the CFK is privately owned, landowner participation in
conservation efforts is essential.
Following an initial study by the Botanical Society of South
Africa and Conservation International, the wine industry and the
conservation sector have embarked on a pioneering partnership to
conserve the rich biodiversity of the CFK.
The Groenlandberg Conservancy
“Conservancies function like an environmental club, where landowners
join hands to improve the conservation status, sustainable utilization
and aesthetic value of the natural resources on their property."
Justine Sharples, conservancy coordinator for Cape Nature Conservation
(CNC)in the Garden Route.
Purpose and advantages
Some of the advantages of establishing a conservancy in a rural environment include:
Conservation of our environment, fynbos and its bio-diversity (flora and fauna).
Increased interest by botanists in doing surveys of
flora in the area.
Access to biological control measures and expertise for alien control.
Improved possibilities for government support in alien clearing.
Re-establishment of wildlife in area.
Fire protection and management.
Increase in eco-tourism and business opportunities (job creation).
Increased environmental awareness and education.
Closer contact with immediate neighbours for mutual benefit – community-based problem-solving
Eco-tourism is assumed to:
Include activities in natural settings, as well as historic and cultural pursuits
Be limited to sustainable activities that do not consume resources
or degrade the natural or social environment, and minimize negative
environmental and social impact
Promote travel that has an educational component and increases
awareness of local environmental, social and cultural issues
Be based on sound resource management and planning,
Be as much an ethic or philosophy of travel, as a tourism product.
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