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Cape Floral Region


Visiting the Western Cape at the end of summer? You might be disappointed by the drab looking mountainsides but don’t be fooled by all that grey-green, its treasures are revealed after closer inspection.

Declared one of South Africa’s eight World Heritage Sites, the Cape Floral Region is one of the hottest spots for global plant diversity. Mostly fynbos, 8 500 plant species thrive in this narrow coastal strip covering an area just 90 000 square kilometres. It’s the smallest and richest of the world’s six floral regions. The other five floral regions are enormous, spanning whole continents or more.

The Peninsula alone, at 470 square km, has more than 2 285 species,of which 90 are endemic. To give you an idea of how mind boggling this is, the entire British Isles has only 1 492 species and it is 308 000 square km. One orchid grows on just two ledges of Table Mountain and another in less than one hectare of the Park! This is what excites botanists, conservationists and novices alike. It’s a chance to see many of the rarest of rare.
A great place to experience the incredible Cape Floral Kingdom's treasures is at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens in Cape Town.

UNESCO World Heritage Site - Cape Floral Region Protected Areas

There are eight protected areas of the Cape Floral Region World Heritage Site:

  • Table Mountain National Park Western Cape, South Africa S34º10'00 E18º22'30
  • Cederberg Wilderness Area Western Cape, South Africa S34º21'10 E19º08'00
  • Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area Western Cape, South Africa S33º05'30 E19º08'00
  • Boland Mountain Complex Western Cape, South Africa S33º55'20 E19º09'50
  • De Hoop Nature Reserve Western Cape, South Africa S34º25'30 E20º29'30
  • Bosmansbos Nature Reserve Western Cape, South Africa S33º55'30 E20º52'40
  • Swartberg Complex Western Cape, South Africa S33º22'00 E22º21'15
  • Baviaanskloof Eastern Cape, South Africa S33º37'30 E24º01'00

A serial site - in Cape Province, South Africa - made up of eight protected areas, covering 553,000-ha. The Cape Floral Region is one of the richest areas for plants in the world. It represents less than 0.5% of the area of Africa but is home to nearly 20% of the continent’s flora. The site displays outstanding ecological and biological processes associated with the Fynbos vegetation, which is unique to the Cape Floral Region. The outstanding diversity, density and endemism of the flora are among the highest worldwide. Unique plant reproductive strategies, adaptive to fire, patterns of seed dispersal by insects, as well as patterns of endemism and adaptive radiation found in the flora are of outstanding value to science.

Justification for Inscription:

Criterion (ix): The Cape Floral Region is considered of outstanding universal value for representing ongoing ecological and biological processes associated with the evolution of the unique Fynbos biome. These processes are represented generally within the Cape Floral Region and captured in the eight protected areas. Of particular scientific interest are the plant reproductive strategies including the adaptive responses to fire of the flora and the patterns of seed dispersal by insects. The pollination biology and nutrient cycling are other distinctive ecological processes found in the site. The Cape Floral Region forms a centre of active speciation where interesting patterns of endemism and adaptive radiation are found in the flora. Criterion (x):The Cape Floral Region is one of the richest areas for plants than for any similar sized area in the world. The number of species per genus within the region (9:1) and per family (52) are among the highest given for various species-rich regions in the world. The species density in the Cape Floral Region is also amongst the highest in the world. It displays the highest levels of endemism at 31.9 % and it has been identified as one of the world’s 18 biodiversity hot spots. Source: UNESCO

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