he Cape Action Plan for the Environment (C.A.P.E.) was established in 2000, under the co-ordination and management of WWF-South Africa. C.A.P.E. has the broad aim of developing and implementing a long-term strategy for conserving biodiversity in the terrestrial, marine and freshwater ecosystems of the Cape Floristic Region (CFR).
The CFR has been identified as one of the world’s most important biodiversity ‘hotspots’, given its richness of species coupled to increasing threats to these species. Due to various factors, most associated with unprecedented development patterns, biodiversity in the CFR is under threat. For example, 1400 plant species are either endangered or close to extinction. Some marine and shellfish stocks are dangerously low, for example, abalone, commonly known as perlemoen, and various freshwater fish species are facing extinction.
The CFR is the smallest of the world’s six floral kingdoms and the only one that is located entirely in one country. It spans an area of 90 000 square kilometres across three provinces, namely the Eastern, Northern and Western Cape. Its uniqueness lies in the astonishing variety of life found in this area. Despite being the smallest of the world’s floral kingdoms, it boasts more types of indigenous plants than are found in any other similar sized surface area on Earth. In addition, about 70 % of its plant species are found nowhere else on Earth.
Towards the aim of conserving biodiversity in the CFR, the C.A.P.E. conservation strategy and action plan focuses on six key components, namely, strengthening institutions, unleashing the socio-economic potential of protected areas, facilitating community stewardship of priority areas, integrating biodiversity concerns into watershed management, supporting conservation education and ongoing, co-ordination, management and monitoring of conservation activities.
The rich diversity of biological resources in the CFR has long been seen as a significant source of economic benefit and sustaining livelihoods. For example, the well-known Fynbos of the region provides a wealth of cut flowers and garden plants. The socio-economic benefits of plants used for herbal teas, perfumes and roof thatching are increasingly being recognised as they have more recently come to provide opportunities for job creation. The biological diversity of the CFR lures millions of national and international visitors per year with these numbers steadily increasing as tourism to these areas is supported. However, unprecedented exploitation of these benefits
In C.A.P.E., conservation education is seen as the active involvement of all people, in all walks of life in conserving the rich biodiversity of the region, in the interest of both present and future communities. The Conservation Education Programme of C.A.P.E. has been established as a cross cutting programme intended to support the development of capacity and competence to respond effectively to the increasing scale of biodiversity loss and ecosystems degradation in the CFR. It is within this context that this booklet is being offered, to support C.A.P.E. partners in identifying learning pathways that better support their work in biodiversity conservation.
Learning Opportunities for Careers in Biodiversity Conservation
is most likely to result in not only the loss of this rich and diverse biological resource, but also compromise potential benefits derived from it.