A year has passed since the December 2015 issue of Veld & Flora, which also means that this is the second December issue that I have had the honour of editing. Our wonderful team - the V&F Working Group have received numerous verbal and written accolades and compliments over the changes to style and content. For this we are extremely grateful and want to say "Aw shucks! Without your support, the support of the BotSoc members, the people who write the articles and the submissions, those who are the feet in the Veld and the scribes of the Flora - this journal would not be possible."
Honours and Awards
The 2016 BotSoc Branch Convention and National Annual General Meeting
Your best shot
Support and awareness - supporting the 34th Cape Town Eskom Expo for young scientists
Celebrating Arbor Week with Gold Fields EE Centre
Participation in the 2016 Cape Town Flower Show
Conservation in action - growing the green CPUT conservationists of the future
Giving life to Target 14 of the National Strategy for Plant Conservation (NSPC)
Global reports tell us that we are losing species at an unprecedented rate, estimated to be at 100 to 1,000 times greater than that of the 'natural' rate of extinction. It is now widely recognised that we will lose more species of plants and animals between 2000 and 2065 than we've lost in the last 65 million years. It is estimated, for example, that since 1970 we have already lost as much as 50% of all known marine diversity. Furthermore, one out of every three amphibian species, four mammal species, eight bird species, and an astonishing six of the seven currently recognised turtle species are now threatened with extinction. It has reached a point where international conservation specialists are talking about "The Sixth Mass Extinction", the last of which took place 65 million years ago. During that last extinction event, an estimated 16% of marine families, 47% of marine genera, and 18% of land vertebrate families, including the dinosaurs, became extinct.
Living in the Cape Town area, we are fortunate to have such a spectacular playground of floral diversity in our backyard where we may indulge in botanical delights. However, Homo technologo has rapidly transformed his environment and vast areas of the world now bear absolutely no resemblance to their natural state. Modern humankind's genius and technology have provided the food and shelter that have allowed our numbers to grow but, over the centuries, these human activities have placed a rapidly increasing number of species under imminent threat of extinction and have also led to the loss of many taxa.
To the blissfully unaware, the softly-rolling hills covered by croplands and pastures are part of the attraction for which the Overberg is renowned. When the fields of golden-yellow Canola bloom in striking contrast with the bluegreens of barley and wheat, visitors "ooh" and "aah" over the arresting spring landscape. Yet the true life-support system in this landscape appears, at least from afar, as grey, dull, drab and isolated remnants of natural vegetation punctuating the fields of monoculture. This is lowland Renosterveld.
This is a condensed version of an article that was published online in Biodiversity and Conservation in October 2016. It has been adapted from the abstract of the article, with a few added details, illustrated by an image from the published article and a photo supplied by Karin Van der Walt.
Almost all land plants reproduce by means of two distinct, alternating life forms: a sexual phase that produces and releases gametes or sex cells and allows fertilisation, and a dispersal phase. The sexual phase is known as the gametophyte or haploid (n) generation and the dispersal phase is the sporophyte or diploid (2n) generation. In angiosperms and all vascular plants, the sporophyte phase is the dominant generation.
Ten years ago My fynbos garden at the tip of Africa was published in the December 2006 issue of Veld & Flora. Written ten years after moving from Durban to our family home, Southermost, in Cape Agulhas and starting an indigenous garden from scratch, the article won me an award for the best article by an amateur botanist.
There are five main aspects of the work that we do at the Millennium Seed Bank: species targeting, trip planning, seed collecting, seed processing and seed storage. Our collection strategy begins with priority area targeting, based on threatened ecosystems, National Protected Area Expansion Strategy (NPAES) sites, CREW sites, and sites at risk of development. The focus areas are researched thoroughly and a target species list is compiled for each. Specific localities are found where possible, and maps, photographs, herbarium specimens and detailed descriptions make up species dossiers to take into the field. These, and a GPS, are essential for finding our target species.
The Overberg Crane Group (OCG) has partnered with the Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust (ORCT). The two organisations together will protect threatened big birds that live in the Overberg, and the habitat on which they rely. As part of the collaboration, a new OCG website has been launched and the OCG is also active on Facebook and Twitter.
The BotSoc Branches are formed by members who support the mission and objectives of the BotSoc. Members are automatically affiliated to their nearest branch, and activities are mainly driven by volunteers who organise talks, walks, awareness campaigns, CREW outings and fundraising.
Fynbos Fairies is a delightful children's poetry book, translated to English by poet Gus Ferguson from the original Afrikaans verse by renowned poet Antjie Krog. This stunning collaboration, by three well known South African literary figures, describes the world of Cape Fynbos, where the plants are inhabited by fairies.