World Treasure within a City Border
The City of Cape Town encompasses unique wildlife and is a biodiversity hotspot without parallel. The city is located within the Cape Floral Kingdom, the smallest of only six floral kingdoms in the world. The Cape Floristic Region has a high proportion of unique and endangered species, and as a result is considered a global biodiversity hotspot.The city’s natural scenery is notable for its magnificent coastline and a varied skyline of rugged mountain peaks, gentle, rolling hills and flat sandy plains. These varied landscapes, together with the large range of soil types and rainfall patterns, helped to shape over millennia the extremely rich biodiversity that today characterises Cape Town. The city’s wildlife includes over 360 bird species, 83 mammalllian species, 27 amphibian species, and an excess of 2 000 indigenous plant species.
Currently there is an intensifying biodiversity conservation crisis in the Cape Town. The city coincides with an extremely high concentration of unique biodiversity, making it almost impossible to completely avoid negative impacts of urban development. High immigration rates to Cape Town, particularly during the past two decades, and inappropriate development in the form of urban sprawl, constitute the greatest threats to remaining biodiversity in the city. Urbanisation causes fragmentation of natural habitats, exposing flora and fauna to greater impacts of invasive alien species, pollution and other disturbances. Pressure from developers adds to the threat of biodiversity loss in the remaining natural areas. In turn, these impacts lead to declines in populations and increased extinction risks.
The City of Cape Town’s Biodiversity Management Branch is working to fight the pressures of urbanisation by ensuring that an understanding and appreciation of biodiversity and nature is mainstreamed into everyday life, which includes delivering tangible benefits to all communities. More specifically, the branch is responsible for conservation planning, biodiversity management and alien species eradication. One of the many projects the Biodiversity Management Branch has undertaken to achieve this goal is the establishment and promotion of the False Bay Ecology Park. The vision for this project is to become one of the leading conservation, environmental education, recreation and ecotourism centres in the country, it provides environmental tourism, social and economic opportunities and benefits for Capetonians, especially those in the nearby disadvantaged areas. This way, the benefits of this park can helped protect Cape Town’s threatened biodiversity while also accommodating its increasing population.