More than 1 500 learners from across the city will participate in the City of Cape Town’s biodiversity-related awareness and education programmes during May and June in celebration of International Day for Biological Diversity today, 22 May 2016. The City also calls on residents to help protect our natural heritage. Read more below:
Cape Town’s biodiversity mix includes approximately 3 000 plant species in 19 different vegetation types. The City’s 16 nature reserves conserve important elements of this rich biodiversity.
‘We are excited to be welcoming learners from all communities to our reserves during May and June as we try to nurture a love for conservation through our interactive educational programmes. These have proven to be popular and we hope that our programmes may be the spark for budding nature enthusiasts.‘Through these programmes, we are celebrating our biodiversity. Our reserves are intertwined with our communities and it is especially important for us to connect learners from our more vulnerable communities to the biodiversity of our city.
‘Learners from approximately 15 schools will participate in the interactive biodiversity awareness programmes held at the Tygerberg, Table Bay, Blaauwberg, Witzands, Edith Stephens, Bracken, Zandvlei, Helderberg and False Bay nature reserves where they will be educated about the importance of biodiversity and their responsibility in ensuring its protection and conservation,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Energy, Environmental and Spatial Planning, Councillor Johan van der Merwe.
Some of the City’s s efforts around biodiversity-related awareness and education include educational programmes for school learners, environmental clubs where the public and experts can interact, and the Smart Living Challenge Zone at the Two Oceans Aquarium.
To create further awareness and to enhance the educational programmes, exhibitions will be held at various libraries and shopping centres around Cape Town. Some of these include the Philippi East, Brackenfell and Kraaifontein libraries.
‘We all depend on biodiversity – which means the variety of life on earth – in ways that are not always obvious or appreciated. The availability of food, clean water and air depends upon ecosystem products and services. Biodiversity also provides areas for us to enjoy and creates jobs.
‘In the last financial year over 140 000 person days of temporary employment were created through the City’s Kader Asmal Expanded Public Works Programme Project. In addition to this, other government departments created jobs linked to the natural environment, including Working for Water, Working for Wetlands, Working on Fire, Working for the Coast, and various infrastructure development programmes.
‘This International Day for Biological Diversity, let us all make a start by doing something positive for our environment, and not disregarding the importance that small contributions make to the overall well-being of our ecosystem. Already, 13 of our plant species are classed as extinct. A further 319 plant types are threatened with extinction.
‘It is important for the younger generation to be educated in a fun-filled, interactive manner that is relevant to them so that they can get excited about their contribution to conserving and protecting the environment,’ said Councillor Van Der Merwe.
Capetonians can also get involved or work with the City in various ways, by:
· visiting nature reserves throughout the year. Schools wishing to book for environmental education programmes at their local nature reserve reserves can visit capetown.gov.za/naturereserves for further information and contact details
· visiting the Smart Living Challenge Zone at the Two Oceans Aquarium, which includes a digital interactive installation on biodiversity
· joining an environmental club or a nature reserve friends group
· always planting non-invasive local (indigenous) water-wise plants in your garden
· reporting non-indigenous invasive plants and animals. Visit www.capetowninvasives.org.za or email firstname.lastname@example.org
· starting an organic food garden (which does not use pesticides) at your home, at your school or in your community
· avoiding the use of pesticides and harsh chemicals as these can harm the plants and animals
· being aware that we share our city with many wild animals and always treating them with respect and c