n SA Mercantile Law Journal = SA Tydskrif vir Handelsreg - Traditional knowledge relating to medical uses of plants and the patent regime in South Africa : whither the traditional healers?

Volume 27, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1015-0099
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2185



South Africa as a biologically resource-rich and mega-diverse country boasts of a unique biodiversity that has been described as an asset of international, national and local value and significance. For instance, its Cape floral region, a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) world heritage site and a global biodiversity hotspot, is reputedly one of only six in the whole world to boast of an entire plant kingdom. Known as the Cape floral kingdom, this area has the highest recorded species diversity for any similarly sized temperate or tropical region in the world. The Table Mountain National Park within the floral kingdom, reportedly has more plant species within its 22 000 hectares than the whole British Isles or New Zealand. Presently, South Africa ranks third amongst the world's most biologically diverse countries with over 24 000 plant species. The richness in biological resources naturally translates to abundance of customary knowledge, innovations, and practices towards the conservation and sustainable utilisation of such resources including for medicinal purposes, developed and nurtured over many generations by indigenous communities, who traditionally are custodians of biological resources.

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