City celebrates its unique and irreplaceable biodiversity

In celebration of the International Day for Biological Diversity and our own unique and irreplaceable biodiversity, the City of Cape Town will be hosting various Youth Environmental School (YES) programmes during the month of May.

Sanctioned by the United Nations, the International Day for Biological Diversity is held every year on 22 May to raise public awareness of the significance of biodiversity for human well-being. It has been held on this day since 2001.

The YES programmes will all revolve around environmental education and biodiversity, and will involve over 5 000 learners from about 50 schools in Cape Town.

The programmes will feature visits to the Cape of Good Hope SPCA, the Centre for Conservation Education, the Biodiversity Showcase Garden at the Green Point Park, the SANBI Kirstenbosch Goldfields Education Centre, Kenilworth Racecourse, City nature reserves (Rondevlei Nature Reserve, Edith Stephens Nature Reserve, Zandvlei Estuary Nature Reserve, Blaauwberg Nature Reserve, Witzands Aquifer Nature Reserve, Tygerberg Nature Reserve, Helderberg Nature Reserve) and various schools around Cape Town.

Marine Biodiversity is the theme for this year. The occasion is being used to increase global understanding and awareness of issues and challenges around biodiversity in general, but marine biodiversity in particular. A major benefit of marine diversity is the abundance of food and raw materials that can be harvested from the marine environment. It has also been found that preserving the diversity of marine organisms could be essential in controlling levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

To date the City of Cape Town has set aside over 30 areas within the metro boundary to be managed in an effort to protect our unique biodiversity. Schools are encouraged to visit these reserves throughout the year.

Further attempts to secure the City’s unique biodiversity include the BioNet Implementation Alliance, a partnership aimed at encouraging private landowners to set aside land for conservation purposes. Conservation-worthy public land has also been identified for eventual proclamation under the Protected Areas Act.

These efforts, together with a number of private, Provincial and National reserves in the region, contribute towards conserving biodiversity heritage for our own and future generation’s enjoyment, as well as the continuing provision of ecosystem services. Managing our urban biodiversity will not be possible without the support of all Cape Town’s citizens.

The media are invited to attend the following YES Programme events:

YES team and City of Cape Town nature reserves:
Where: Helderberg Nature Reserve
Contact: Andreas Groenewald on 021 852 8831
Activity: Fynbos biodiversity
When: 7-10 May 2012 and 15-17 May 2012 (please call to confirm times)

Where: Witzands Aquifer Nature Reserve
Contact: Elzanne Burger on 021 577 5000 or Elzette Krynauw on 021 554 0957
Activity: Importance of biodiversity (focus on the marine environment)
When: 15 and 18 May 2012 (please call to confirm times)

Where: Blaauwberg Nature Reserve
Contact: Elzette Krynauw on 021 554 0957
Activity: Importance of biodiversity (focus on the marine environment)
When: 14 and 18 May 2012 (please call to confirm times)

Where: Zandvlei Estuary Nature Reserve
Contact: Mark Arendse on 021 701 7542
Activity: Biodiversity
When: 7-10, 14-18, and 21-23 May 2012 (please call to confirm times)

Where: Various schools around Cape Town
Contact: Paul Arends on 021 487 2567
When: 7-18 May 2012, 10:00 to 11:30

Where: Kenilworth Racecourse
Contact: Skye Marks on 021 700 1843
When: 8 May 2012, 09:00 to 12: 00

External programmes:
Where: Cape of Good Hope SPCA
Contact: Lucille Boonzaaier on 021 700 4181
When: 7-11 May 2012, 09:00 to 12:00

Where: Centre For Conservation Education
Contact: Sigi Howes on 021 762 1622
When: 7-18 May 2012, 09:00 to 12:00

Where: Biodiversity Showcase Garden (Green Point Park)
Contact: Paul Arends on Tel: 021 487 2567
When: 7-18 May 2012, 09:30 to 12:00

Where: Various schools with Irene Toerien
Contact: Paul Arends on 021 487 2567
When: 7-18 May 2012, 09:30 to 11:00

Where: SANBI, Kirstenbosch Goldfields Education Centre
Contact: Sally Hey on 021 799 8670
When: 7-18 May 2012, 09:00 to 12:00

Schools wishing to book for environmental education programmes at their local nature reserve on dates other than these should please contact the reserves directly.

For more information on the City’s nature reserves or the YES programme, visit
www.capetown.gov.za/naturereserves or www.capetown.gov.za/youthenvironmentalschool