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Preserving our biodiversity<h2 class="sectHeading">​​​​​​​​A biodiversity hotspot</h2><p>Biodiversity is short for ‘biological diversity’. Biodiversity is like a puzzle made up of different pieces – rivers, wetlands, mountains, coastlines, animals, birds and plants all link together to form a complete picture. If we lose too many pieces, the ecosystem falls apart, which is why we need to do our best to protect and conserve it.</p><p>Many species of animals and plants in Cape Town are found nowhere else on earth – these are known as ‘endemic’ species. The Cape has been called a global biodiversity because of our high proportion of endemic species that are under threat. <a href="https://www.capetown.gov.za/Explore%20and%20enjoy/Nature-and-outdoors/Our-precious-biodiversity/Our-floral-kingdom">The Cape Floristic Region</a> – one of six floral kingdoms on the planet – is both the smallest and, with over 9 000 plant species, the most diverse for its size. The entire United Kingdom has a total of 1 200 plant species.</p><p> <strong>In the city alone, we have the following recorded plant and animal species:</strong></p><ul><li>3 350 plants – only 190 are endemic (naturally occur here)</li><li>364 birds</li><li>83 mammals</li><li>27 amphibians – only two are endemic</li><li>8 freshwater fish</li><li>Countless invertebrates – more than 140 are endemic</li></ul><h2 class="sectHeading">​​​​​​​​Threats to biodiversity</h2> <span> <div class="notification with-heading dark-copy pink bg-light-grey"><div class="graphic with-border"> <i class="info note">​​​</i> </div><div class="desc"><h4>ALERT</h4><p> <a href="https://resource.capetown.gov.za/documentcentre/Documents/Forms%2c%20notices%2c%20tariffs%20and%20lists/Tree%20Bug%20Awareness%20Notice.pdf">An invasive beetle species is threatening Cape Town's trees</a>. Report sightings to <a href="https://www.invasivescapetown.org.za/" target="_blank">Cape Town Invasives<i class="icon link-external"></i></a>.<br></p></div></div></span> <p>As our city grows and spreads into natural areas, plants and animals lose habitat and die out. Invasive alien plants and animals are also threats. We need to actively protect our biodiversity or else we may lose it completely. </p><p> <strong>The following factors pose a serious threat to our biodiversity:</strong></p><ul><li> <strong>Urbanisation</strong>: The main causes of habitat loss are agriculture, urbanisation and developments such as mining. More and more people moving into cities fragments the natural environment. </li><li> <strong>Invasive alien species</strong>: Foreign plants, and animals often replace the local species. Without predators or natural pests they thrive in the new environment. See our <a href="https://www.capetown.gov.za/Explore%20and%20enjoy/nature-and-outdoors/our-precious-biodiversity/our-floral-kingdom">floral kingdom</a> and our <a href="https://www.capetown.gov.za/Explore%20and%20enjoy/nature-and-outdoors/our-precious-biodiversity/our-floral-kingdom">animal kingdom</a> pages.</li><li> <strong>Fire</strong>: Fynbos needs to burn to survive, but invasive alien grasses and trees alter the fire regime to the detriment of indigenous species. Read more about <a href="https://www.capetown.gov.za/Family%20and%20home/safety-in-the-home/natural-disasters-and-your-home/wildfires">wildfires </a>in nature and <a href="https://www.capetown.gov.za/Explore%20and%20enjoy/nature-and-outdoors/our-precious-biodiversity/focus-on-fynbos">fynbos</a> in Cape Town</li><li> <strong>Overexploitation</strong>: Herds of livestock overgraze and trample the vegetation, allowing alien grasses to invade. In the sea, poaching and over-fishing mean that marine resources struggle to recover, severely threatening both livelihoods and the ecosystem.</li><li> <strong>Pollution</strong>: <a href="https://www.capetown.gov.za/Explore%20and%20enjoy/nature-and-outdoors/rivers-and-wetlands/cape-towns-rivers-and-wetlands">Wetlands and rivers </a>are polluted by chemicals, oil and sewage collected along <a href="https://www.capetown.gov.za/Family%20and%20home/transport-and-vehicles/road-safety/our-stormwater-system">stormwater courses</a>. Exhaust fumes can change the composition of the soil, severely affecting plant life and leading to more alien vegetation.</li><li> <strong>Climate change</strong>: Rising temperatures and decreasing rainfall is likely to bring more frequent and intense weather, leading to water shortage, farms failing and flooding, erosion and massive changes to the existing biodiversity.</li></ul><p>In the past 400 years, the changes to our natural environment have been profound. See our biodiversity fact sheets in the document download section for more information.</p><h2 class="sectHeading">​​​​​​​​Help protect our biodiversity​​​​​</h2><p>There are many ways for you to get involved and make a real difference, from protecting the biodiversity in your garden to fighting invasive species and supporting or volunteering at your local nature reserve.</p><p>Find more information in our <a href="https://www.capetown.gov.za/Explore%20and%20enjoy/Nature-and-outdoors/our-precious-biodiversity/looking-after-our-natural-heritage">Looking after our natural heritage</a> page. You can also see which City-run programmes and projects you can get involved with. If you are interested in conservation, see our <a href="https://resource.capetown.gov.za/documentcentre/Documents/Maps%20and%20statistics/Map-Protected%2BEnv_Sensitive_Areas_2012-02-13.pdf" target="_blank">map</a> of the City’s protected and environmentally sensitive areas.</p><p>We also recommend reading the biodiversity chapter in our <a href="https://resource.capetown.gov.za/documentcentre/Documents/Procedures%2c%20guidelines%20and%20regulations/CCT_Smart_Living_Handbook.pdf" target="_blank">Smart Living handbook </a>for more information on our different species and how you can go about protecting indigenous plants and animals in your garden.</p><p>Find out more about how you can get involved in helping to protect our precious biodiversity by following the City Connect links below:</p> <span> <div class="notification with-heading white-copy yellow bg-darker-grey"><div class="graphic"> <i class="info citycard">​​</i></div><div class="desc"><h4>City Connect</h4><p> <a href="https://www.capetown.gov.za/City-Connect/Activities-and-programmes/Nature-and-environment/dassenberg-coastal-catchment-partnership">Get involved in the Dassenberg Coastal Catchment Partnership</a><br><a href="https://www.capetown.gov.za/City-Connect/Get-involved/Donate/ramsar-site-conservation-skills-development-programme">Get involved with the Ramsar Site Conservation Skills Development Programme</a><br><a href="https://www.capetown.gov.za/City-Connect/Activities-and-programmes/Nature-and-environment/invasive-species-programme">Invasive Species Programme</a><br><a href="https://www.capetown.gov.za/City-Connect/Get-involved/Volunteer/volunteer-at-a-city-nature-reserve-or-in-a-biodiversity-programme">Volunteer at a City nature reserve or biodiversity programme</a><br><a href="https://www.capetown.gov.za/City-Connect/Get-involved/Volunteer/the-source-to-sea-project">Volunteer on the Source to Sea Project</a><br><a href="https://www.capetown.gov.za/City-Connect/Get-involved/Volunteer/%E2%80%98Friends%E2%80%99-groups-and-community-organisations">Volunteer or join a 'Friends' group</a>.<br><a href="https://www.capetown.gov.za/City-Connect/Get-involved/Volunteer/cape-town-environmental-education-trust/Cape%20Town%20Environmental%20Education%20Trust">Volunteer with the Cape Town Environmental Education Trust</a></p></div></div></span> <p> <strong>If you want to explore further, please see the following:</strong></p><ul><li> <a title="Cape Town Green Map" href="https://www.capetowngreenmap.co.za/" target="_blank">Cape Town Green Map<i class="icon link-external"></i></a> to explore green areas, projects and programmes around the city</li><li>Our Biodiversity Fact Sheets in the document download section for more in-depth educational information and lists of both endemic and threatened species</li><li>Our biodiversity posters on Cape Town’s main vegetation types and threatened plant and animal species are great to download, print and stick up in community centres, homes and schools</li></ul>GP0|#1db3ee8e-f418-4a19-be17-5207dd45feb6;L0|#01db3ee8e-f418-4a19-be17-5207dd45feb6|Preserving our biodiversity;GTSet|#ef3a64a2-d764-44bc-9d69-3a63d3fadea1;GPP|#18da33b4-b150-4fb2-9409-e82d667ad4dd;GPP|#553ce1f7-0fea-434b-bbc1-744edbd62039;GPP|#c529c1ac-1f8d-48ae-8079-d34f4dae9c57;GP0|#9756e285-599e-4631-aa3c-d43e8de97e9f;L0|#09756e285-599e-4631-aa3c-d43e8de97e9f|Preserving our biodiversity;GPP|#eb5e9c59-7ec6-4e70-b544-badd024d5a4e;GPP|#184712e4-2ee9-4f2d-9e3a-71f917b536fa;GPP|#af370586-9ba3-404a-9d6e-02066ca42752;GP0|#15dcf582-a5a2-405f-b3a4-d71d6b27f092;L0|#015dcf582-a5a2-405f-b3a4-d71d6b27f092|Preserving our biodiversity;GPP|#accad947-4ac6-4079-b2d7-f98553346e42;GP0|#52b74cf6-8442-4eb4-80f2-ca4191a4bd65;L0|#052b74cf6-8442-4eb4-80f2-ca4191a4bd65|Preserving our biodiversity;GPP|#42749173-32d0-419b-8f64-0657a266b4a1Discover what biodiversity is, its threats and importance, and how you can make a difference.0

 

 

Biodiversity: Unique Species Poster1094841GP0|#591e1d8b-7507-4dd3-8a9a-59b5cdd318c6;L0|#0591e1d8b-7507-4dd3-8a9a-59b5cdd318c6|Poster;GTSet|#f1e8889f-f7d7-4d5b-a3f5-af0ca2e076ea;GPP|#5340fe0b-73a7-472c-bef7-04e450fb5c4f;GPP|#0972c695-fd19-46c4-ab5d-9601f17b780e2011-01-31T22:00:00Z
Biodiversity: Unique Vegetation Poster796771GP0|#591e1d8b-7507-4dd3-8a9a-59b5cdd318c6;L0|#0591e1d8b-7507-4dd3-8a9a-59b5cdd318c6|Poster;GTSet|#f1e8889f-f7d7-4d5b-a3f5-af0ca2e076ea;GPP|#5340fe0b-73a7-472c-bef7-04e450fb5c4f;GPP|#0972c695-fd19-46c4-ab5d-9601f17b780e2011-01-31T22:00:00Z
Smart Living Handbook 20208333340GP0|#dcc8214b-489e-4c99-a7e9-6bc8bda6e154;L0|#0dcc8214b-489e-4c99-a7e9-6bc8bda6e154|Handbook;GTSet|#f1e8889f-f7d7-4d5b-a3f5-af0ca2e076ea;GPP|#d8892104-ce90-493e-b813-93c488f4b1d3;GPP|#0972c695-fd19-46c4-ab5d-9601f17b780e2020-06-29T22:00:00Z

 

 

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