World-best plant reserve next to M5

2015-07-07 06:01
A rare plant, Hessea cinnamomea, has flowered in the Kenilworth Racecourse Conservation Area after the recent fire. The area hosts many special plants and animals, including the endangered Cape Flats frog.

A rare plant, Hessea cinnamomea, has flowered in the Kenilworth Racecourse Conservation Area after the recent fire. The area hosts many special plants and animals, including the endangered Cape Flats frog.

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The Kenilworth Racecourse Conservation Area (KRCA) protects 52 hectares of critically endangered Cape Flats sand fynbos. To make sure that the area is well taken care of a Miss Earth South Africa semi-finalist teamed up with the Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers (Crew) on a recent visit to the area to help out.

Situated in the centre of Kenilworth Racecourse, the KRCA is regarded as the best example of sand fynbos remaining in the Cape Peninsula. It is also one of the largest stretches of natural vegetation left over in Cape Town’s southern suburbs.

It boasts over 300 plant species, 10 mammal species, 17 reptile species and eleven frog species. These include the critically endangered micro frog (also known as the Cape Flats frog), the endangered Cape platanna and Cape rain frog – all of which are endemic to the South-Western Cape, making the KRCA a hotspot for amphibian life on the Cape Flats.

Miss Earth semi-finalist Andrea von Gunten says no other single urban, natural vegetation remnant on our planet comes close in terms of sheer plant species numbers, relative to physical area.

“It’s educational potential is of great value, as it is located in an urban environment, making it easily accessible for school groups,” she says.

This area shows the biological diversity that can be found within the boundaries of the city, she says.

“We were even fortunate enough to find a rare and endangered plant, Hessea cinnamomea, that recently came up after the ecological burn in February.

“This site should remain protected so that future generations can have an example of what this critically endangered vegetation type once looked like. Urban nature reserves are of great importance as they encompass a vast array of biodiversity,” adds Von Gunten.

The visitors ended the day by donating work gloves to the conservation staff and stationery for school group visits.

Von Gunten says she has a passion for conservation and want to use Miss Earth South Africa as a platform to create more awareness around the importance of urban nature reserves.

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