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Simon's Town Flora Conservation Group


Simon's Town Flora Conservation Group
113 Runciman Drive, Simon’s Town, 7975

Telephone: +27 21 786-1620
cathy@simonstownmuseum.co.za
Contact: Mr. Peter Salter
 

 

 
OUR OBJECTIVES  
   
  • To control invasive alien vegetation in the greater Simon's Town area.
  • To publicise the beauty and infinite diversity of the flowering and other plants of the fynbos biome, through talks and rambles through the veld.
  • To make the general public and particularly schoolchildren, aware of the reasons for:
    + clearing alien vegetation
    + conserving and promoting indigenous fynbos
  • To oppose insensitive and inappropriate development within the Simon's Town area and to support like-motivated groups in other areas, wherever the need arises.

Walking in the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve.
STFCG members on Kanonkop with a panoramic view
of Buffels Bay and Cape Point in the distance.
 

Typical mountain fynbos in
the Simon's Town area.

Protea Cynaroides found on the
mountains around Simon's Town.
 
ACHIEVEMENTS

On 27 September 1985 the first Citizen of the Year Award was presented by the Simon's Town Municipality to Hugh "Tut" Trainor on behalf of the Simon's Town Flora Conservation Group.
 

Hacking on Elsies Peak - a STFCG volunteer cutting down a large hakea.
In 1990 the STFCG was nominated by the Simon's Town Municipality for the Cape Times Centenary Award for conservation.

The Botanical Society awarded the Denys Heesom Medal to the STFCG in 1994, for alien vegetation clearance and involvement in environmental education, particularly in Ocean View and particularly with children from previously disadvantaged backgrounds.

In 1995 we encouraged two pupils from Kleinberg Primary School in Ocean View, accompanied by their teacher, to take part in an International Environmental Conference held in Eastbourne, England. Together with other organisations we were able to raise sufficient funds for Lauren Matthys and Lindsay Felix and their teacher, Ms. Fiefa Fakier, not only to attend the conference, but to spend four days in London, visiting museums and art galleries.

 

The above achievements are in addition to the many hectares in the Simon's Town area, which have been cleared of alien vegetation. In addition, the STFCG has contributed a great deal of time and energy into numerous structure plans for the Peninsula and in promoting the National Parks Board as the custodian of the Cape Peninsula Protected Natural Environment (CPPNE) - now the Cape Peninsula National Park.


Walking from Elsies Peak towards the Brakkloof Ridge. Senecios in the foreground and burnt remains of a thick infestation of rooikrantz.

Aristeas and Watsonias in the vicinity
of Kleinplaas Dam on Redhill.
 
SO WHY DO WE DO IT?
WHY ARE WE SO PASSIONATE ABOUT OUR FYNBOS HERITAGE?
 

Watsonia Borbonica on mountainside above
Dido Valley
.
The Cape Floral Kingdom is situated within the Western Cape, South Africa. It consists of just under 90 000 square kilometres of which 80% is "fynbos" (literally 'fine bush'). It is made up of 8 600 plant species, 5 800 of these are endemic; in other words, they only occur in a very small and specific geographical area.

Compare this to tropical Africa which contains 30 000 plant species in an area of 20 000 000 square kilometres - that is, only 3½ times as many species in an area 235 times as large!


Watsonia Borbonica on mountainside above
Dido Valley.
 

Erica Cerinthoides - found all over the Simon's Town area.
The Cape Floral Kingdom contains 526 of the world’s 740 Erica species, 96 of the world’s 160 Gladiolus species and 69 of the world’s 112 Protea species. It also supports about 1400 rare, endangered and vulnerable species of flora - that is more than 16% of the total number of species.

The Cape Peninsula alone contains 2285 indigenous plant species in an area of only 477 square kilometres. Just think - that is an area smaller than Greater London!

Another comparison would be that the British Isles has 1500 plant species in 310 000 square kilometres, but the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve contains approximately 1200 species of plant on 78 square kilometres, which includes 53 Restios and about 38 Ericas. Remarkable isn’t it?

 

Aristeas and Watsonias.

Satyrium Carneum in Redhill area.

Disa Cornuta on Brakkloof Ridge.

Gazania Krebsiana on Brakkloof Ridge.
 
There are 3 main plant species which make up the fynbos:
  • Proteas
  • Ericas
  • Restios

Many more plant families are represented however, such as Fabaceae, Geraniaceae, Orchidaceae, Companulaceae, Asteraceae, Iridaceae, etc.

   

Pelargonium Cucullatum on Redhill.

Mimetes Cucullatus on Elsies Peak.

Senecio.
     
 

Roella Ciliata
on Elsies Peak.
Fire is vital in the ecology of the fynbos, but it can be both friend and foe. It is very important for the regeneration of the fynbos, but is also stimulates the rapid germination of alien vegetation seed. The alien plants have no natural enemies in this country and therefore they grow more rapidly and much larger than the fynbos plants, which soon leads to the indigenous plants being swamped.

What the fynbos needs is fairly long intervals of around 15 years (depending on the type of fynbos), between each fire. This ensures the re-establishment of the seed-set after each fire. Too-frequent fires result in the diminishing and eventual extinction of species.

   
A very serious threat to our fynbos heritage is "development" and the ever-advancing urban edge. A third of the geographical area of the fynbos kingdom has already been lost. A point worth mentioning is that many endemic species are extremely restricted in their geographic distribution. For example, Gladiolus Bonae-Spei is found in only 600 square metres and Erica Heleogena is found in an area of a mere ±300 square metres!
 
Sandstone formations on Redhill.
   

Sandstone with quartz.

Graafwater siltstones in sandstone formation.

Sandstone cliff.
     
FAUNA OF THE FYNBOS

It is also estimated that for every plant species in the fynbos biome, there are at least 4 invertebrates and that the Peninsula itself, has 111 endemic invertebrates.

Generally fauna of the fynbos are small, due to the poor nutritive value of the plants. Examples are mongoose, porcupine, baboon, caracal, hyrax, grysbok and the few remaining mountain leopard. There are many small rodents which form the main prey of the predators.

 
     

A dolorite dyke in granite.
Bird species too, are not very numerous, but the fynbos contains a number of endemics, such as the orange-breasted sunbird, protea canary, Cape rockjumper, etc. Several birds of prey occur in the fynbos biome, including the Cape eagle owl, black eagle, rock kestrel, etc.

Snakes including the cobra, puffadder, boomslang and numerous others are common, as are many lizard species and several types of tortoise.


Cordylus cordylus - a lizard often seen on walks in the Simon's Town area.
     
We have not listed all the species of flora and fauna of the fynbos here, but for those who would like to know more, we recommend the books:

Fynbos, South Africa's Unique Floral Kingdom
By Richard Cowling and Dave Richardson
Published by Fernwood Press, Cape Town, 1995

and

A Fynbos Year
Text by Michael Fraser and Illustrated by Liz McMahon
Published by David Philip, Cape Town and Johannesburg, 1988

 
   
Lichens found growing on the rock formations in the Simon's Town area.
     

Dendrites.

3Liesegang Rings on sandstone boulders.
   
Thank you to Claire McCarthy for her wonderful photos used here...




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