TDA is responsible for conserving and restoring Cape Town’s unique biodiversity, and managing 16 nature reserves and other important biodiverse areas, which make up much of the natural space in Cape Town. It also undertakes conservation planning, mapping and collating specialist biodiversity information, environmental education, invasive alien species management, and human/wildlife conflict. Job creation and skills development form an important component of our work.
Biodiversity is short for ‘biological diversity’. Biodiversity is like a puzzle made up of different pieces – rivers, wetlands, mountains, coastlines, animals, birds and plants all link together to form a complete picture. If we lose too many pieces, the ecosystem falls apart, which is why we need to do our best to protect and conserve it.
Cape Town is located within the Cape Floristic Region (CFR), encompassing one of six floral kingdoms on the planet. This kingdom is both the smallest and, with over 9 000 plant species, the most diverse for its size. For example, the entire United Kingdom (almost four times the CFR’s size) has a total of 1 200 plant species. Cape Town , itself, is a global biodiversity hot spot and has been touted as the “most biodiverse urban area in the world”. This is because many species of animals and plants in Cape Town are found nowhere else on earth (these are known as ‘endemic’ species) and because a high proportion of species are being threatened. In the City’s metro area alone, we have the following recorded plant and animal species:
3 350 plant species – 190 are endemic and 320 are threatened
365 bird species
83 mammal species
27 amphibian species – two are endemic
8 freshwater fish species
Countless species of invertebrates – more than 140 are endemic
Well managed nature reserves are an important part of our Local Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (LBSAP). A visit to the City’s nature reserves and other natural areas will take you through a breath-taking network of spectacular indigenous flora and fauna. The City’s nature reserves provide a number of recreational (including a range of watersports and fishing at our three large recreation vleis and activities such as 4x4 driving, quad biking, and sand-boarding on the Witzands sand dunes) and educational activities at environmental education centres. The reserves also provide local tourism opportunities as well as skills development and job creation. Local communities participate in reserve management via the Protected Area Advisory Committees.