Creating Wildlife Stepping Stones Across Cape Town

Draft Strategy

Introduction

Cape Town is surrounded by nature reserves that play an invaluable role in protecting urban nature; the diverse range of Fynbos plants and animals like birds, insects, amphibians, reptiles and a variety of mammals. Having regular access to high quality nature provides health, wellbeing and quality of life to Cape Town’s human residents. Throughout the city there are, however, gradients to the quality of nature freely accessible to residents, and there are also obvious areas of green deserts, without ‘green’ for kilometers.

As humans, this disconnect from daily encounters with nature skews our sense of our role within our natural environment, creating a false sense that we are not a part of nature, and not reliant on nature for everything from our food and water to our medicines and homes. Free ecosystem services that we take for granted, include the pollination of our food crops by bees and other pollinators, and the filtration of our water. This misunderstanding of ourselves is a very dangerous way to live because it has become normal, even desirable, to live in a way that undercuts our own ecosystem and therefore our own long-term wellbeing.

It is often said that we cannot value, and therefore protect, what we do not understand. And the best test of our human understanding of the ecosystem we are in is demonstrating our ability to rehabilitate it. Fostering an appreciation for Cape Town’s ecosystems through the act of rehabilitating Fynbos, simultaneously creates an awareness of healthy ecosystem function, and passes on the skills to act on that knowledge.

Understanding that cities are ecosystems in themselves, with a diverse mosaic of inter-dependent social and ecological components, allows us to reimagine urban areas as places where people and nature can coexist. Conservation areas are only a final defense against this persistent grinding away of the systems that sustain our lives and our wellbeing. We need to strengthen the city’s biodiversity as a whole, and get out of this mode of living on the edge of the critical limit of disaster, and into the mode of being embedded within a strong and healthy ecosystem that can carry us surely and safely into the next century.

Cape Town is made up of a diversity of cultures with distinct ways of relating to the environment, and so these ecological habitats should be embedded in an appropriate place-specific way that enhance local environments and provide ecosystem services that are appropriate. The diversity of ways of appreciating nature is very valuable in itself, because it shows that there are realistic alternative ways to relate to nature outside of the global norm to possess, extract and destroy. Banding together across the landscape is our best hope to hold all the pieces of remnant Fynbos together, and restore it as a robust whole. These ancient treasures of the Cape Floristic Region took hundreds of millions of years to spawn all its species, and we need to pool together to make sure it is not left in tatters after only a few intensely destructive generations.

The Fynbos Corridor Collaboration presents an integrated and proactive approach to addressing the need for social and ecological connectivity in Cape Town and suggests a framework for off-reserve rehabilitation of Fynbos that can be applied to various urban contexts, such as our own gardens, parks, schools and other public spaces. This strategy aims to help coordinate action against the rapid extinction of biodiversity, weakening ecosystems, divided and hostile public spaces, and the diminishing yet vital relationship between Cape Town’s urban population and the natural environment.

Download and comment

We have prepared a draft strategy with 5 chapters, and we would very much appreciate your input, particularly on the last two chapters, which need input from persons like yourself to get to the level we want them:

  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Urban Biodiversity
  • Chapter 3: Fynbos Rehabilitation - The Stepping-stone Garden Approach
  • Chapter 4: Creating Connectivity
  • Chapter 5: Stepping-stone Garden Rehabilitation Protocols

Chapter 1 is a good place to start to understand our focus. Chapters 2 and 3 are more generic, covering biodiversity, Fynbos and rehabilitation for laypersons. If you have the capacity, your input on these preliminary chapters are very welcome, but the last two chapters are our main concern.

Chapters 2 and 3 are more generic, covering biodiversity, Fynbos and rehabilitation for laypersons. If you have the capacity, your input on these preliminary chapters are very welcome, but the last two chapters are our main concern.

The aim of the strategy in to help non-experts to focus their urban greening on Fynbos rehabilitation in stepping-stone corridor formation. That is, each person works on their Fynbos patch or 'stepping-stone', and with some coordination, the collective input makes a stepping-stone corridor, and is therefore greater than it would have been had people worked alone.

Please use the link below to download the document. We greatly appreciate feedback from our readers. This could be feedback about the document as a whole, about a single chapter, or about a specific part of it. All comments are welcome. Please use the form linked below to provide feedback.

Download draft strategy (PDF, 23 Mb) Submit your comments (open feedback form) Submit your comments (structured feedback form)