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General News

Fynbos Footprint - 25 June 2007

The whole world has been alerted to the consequences of global warming and a range of high level responses are being debated at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and other world forums. It seems that most scientists and policy makers are agreed – not only must something be done to address the underlying causes of global climate, but there is a need to take concerted action to assist nations and communities to adapt to the already evident impacts. But for most people, both the causes and solutions seem remote and difficult to deal with, of necessity requiring the mobilisation of international powers and processes.

Despite being constantly reminded of the dire consequences, and even feeling the crunch of water and energy shortages, altered fire risk and failing crops, most of us don’t have any practical options to deal with the situation.

Fortunately there is now an easy way for each of us to take action in our own lives, to put a green foot forward and change the future of the planet. At the Annual CAPE Partners Conference being held at Kirstenbosch, Minister Tasneem Essop has launched a new handy guide “How Green is Your Footprint” that provides easy ways to reduce our own ecological footprint on the planet, and in so doing to contribute towards sustainable living.

Inspired by Al Gore’s “The Inconvenient Truth”, and wide ranging calls to action, CAPE has compiled a set of 50 tips for use in our homes, schools, workplaces, communities and while out and about enjoying our beautiful Cape Floristic Region. “It has been really refreshing to realise that we can act in a most powerful way by simply understanding that when we act individually in a common cause, we can together make a real difference,” said Minister Essop. Referring to local people of the region who have learned over the centuries to adapt to changing climates, wet and dry cycles, Essop drew attention to rooibos tea harvesters and growers from the Hantam area, who have been working out responses for centuries on how to go about sustainably managing their own resources in the face of the changing external environment. “Their approach and their lessons need to be widely disseminated, to remind us that we have within us an indomitable spirit to rise to the challenges that we face, provided we seek a common goal and we are prepared to work together.” she said.

At the function at Kirstenbosch, Minister Essop also conferred CAPE Conservation Awards on worthy recipients, each of which has contributed in some remarkable way to leaving a positive green fynbos footprint as a result of their work and commitment. The first ever platinum award was presented to Brian Huntley for his dedicated professional contribution over several decades most recently as the now retired CEO of the South African National Biodiversity Institute which is the home of the Cape Action for People and the Environment Programme (C.A.P.E.). Also honoured were Dr Ed February, renowned climber, scientist and conservationist, and Wendy Paisley of the Botanical Society of South Africa, who puts together the annual Fynbos Forum meetings of scientists, managers and communities.

The evening was marked by a presentation of indigenous music from the Hantam area, reminding all of the unique place in which we live and the remarkable fynbos fynmense who live and work in the region.

If you would like a copy of the "How Green is your Footprint" guide, or would like to use the campaign for your event, product, etc., please contact Conny Torpsch on 021 799 8867 or e-mail Torpsch@sanbi.org