Cape Floral Region – A Magical Heritage Site

You don’t have to be a botanist to enjoy the pleasure of a pretty flower. These amazing little delights of nature are generally quite simple in design yet they may be put together in such a way that one may marvel at their complexity. If you have ever been captivated by the beauty of a bunch of flowers, then you would certainly enjoy a trip to the Cape Floral Region. One of South Africa’s seven international heritage sites, the Cape Floral Region is a well-preserved plethora of color and life. Here nature has become the flower arranger and the bouquet is simply breathtaking.

The Cape Floral Region is a ‘serial’ heritage site in that it is made up of eight different areas. Each of these areas are considered to have the most important examples of Cape flora and each of them are protected. They are Table Mountain (including the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens), De Hoop Nature Reserve, the Groot Winterhoek wilderness area, the Boosmansbos wilderness area, the Boland mountain complex, the Swartberg Mountains, the Cederberg wilderness area and Baviaanskloof. All eight can be found between the Cape Peninsula and the Eastern Cape and when combined the heritage site covers about 553,000 hectares.

The area’s status as a World Heritage Site is well deserved as it is one of the richest areas of plant life in the world. When one considers that the region is only 0.5% the size of Africa, but it is home to almost 20% of all flora that can be found on the continent, it becomes apparent why the Cape Floral Region is such a treasure. The region has one of the highest rates of diversity, density and endemism of plant species in the world. It also has amazing ecological and biological processes which have resulted in some rather unique species of plant such as Fynbos. Various factors influence these natural areas such as fire, seed dispersal by insects, endemism and adaptive radiation – all of which form a valuable contribution to science.

The Cape Floral Region is one of six floral kingdoms in the world – yet it is outstanding in number of different ways. For one thing, it is the smallest of the six. For another, it is the richest. It is also the only one to fall within the boundaries of one country – never mind one province. It is also interesting to note that there are more species of plants in this floral region than there are in the entire British Isles or New Zealand. In fact, roughly 70% are unique to this area and do not occur anywhere else on the planet. So if you have a passion for floral fusion, come to the Cape Floral Region and enjoy this natural delight. You’ll never see anything else quite like it.

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