As part of our Good Business Journey, Woolworths is proud to support initiatives to conserve Africa’s endangered species. Through partnerships with our customers, MyPlanet and conservation organisations, we are increasing awareness of threats to our biodiversity, while actively supporting conservation projects in South Africa.
Through the sale of each bag, Woolworths donates R10 to the Botanical Society in support of cycad conservation.
E. longifolius. photograph by Kirsten Retief.
WHO IS “THE BOTANICAL SOCIETY”?
The Botanical Society of South Africa (BotSoc) was established in 1913, the same year the now world famous Kirstenbosch Garden was started. The land for the garden, which was left to the nation by Cecil John Rhodes, was allocated for the development of a botanical garden by the South African government on condition that an appropriate organization from civil society was formed to assist with the venture. The Society has faithfully fulfilled this objective, as well as extending assistance and support to the other eight National Botanical Gardens that have subsequently been established around the country. The Society has also championed the cause of wildflower protection and conservation, outside the gardens, through conservation and education programmes, projects and initiatives.
The Society is a registered not for profit organization that has 30 000 members spread across the world.
The Head Office of the Society is situated at Kirstenbosch where a small group of core personnel service and support the branches and manage projects along with the normal administration functions required by a large organization. By being a member of the Society one is part of a large group of individuals from around the world that support the mission and objectives of the Society.
The Society has several branches around the country most of which are associated with the botanical gardens they support. The branches also support the Society with specific programmes of conservation and education. For more information, refer to theBranches and Gardens and theProjects and Activities
Encephalartos princeps. photograph by Kirsten Retief.
WHAT PROJECT WILL THE FUNDS SUPPORT?
The funds will be used for supporting the strategic objectives and action plan for the management of cycads. This strategy and action plan was developed by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) and a range of stakeholders and responsible organisations as well as key partners for implementation of the action plan.
WHEN AND WHERE WILL THE PROJECT BE INITIATED?
The National Strategy and action plan for the management of cycads is in the process of being signed off by the Minister of Evironmental Affairs. A roll out strategy is planned around the country at national centres discussing and inviting implementing parties to become part of the process and action plan. The BotSoc is keen to concentrate on the strategic objective involving the communication, Education and Public awareness. The Cycad bag is part of such an initiative and the first of the sort to fundraise for cycad conservation as the cycad could almost be seen as rarer than the rhino.
The BotSoc Head office and members of the BotSoc council conservation committee will be directly involved. BotSoc is also a key partner with the South African National Biodiversity Institute in the Threatened Species programme.
Cycads are the world’s oldest seed plants. They have existed for 340 million and have survived three mass extinctions.
Globally there are 303 extant cycad species, of which 63% are classified as threatened.
South Africa is a hotspot for cycad diversity with 38 indigenous cycad species (over 10% of the world’s cycads). Three endemic species are extinct in the wild, 12 are critically endangered and four are endangered. Of the 12 critically endangered species, three species have not been seen in the wild since 2006, and four have fewer than 100 individuals remaining in the wild.
This makes cycads more threatened than the rhino (the white rhino is near threatened; the black rhino is critically endangered).
More than 50% of our cycads face extinction in the near future.
All South African cycads are on appendix 1 of CITES; therefore trading with any wild cycad is illegal.
Cycads are gymnosperms, like conifers: they reproduce through huge seed cones rather than producing flowers or fruit.
Cycads were introduced to Kirstenbosch 100 years ago by its first director, Professor Harold Pearson. One of his first acts as director was to plant out his collection of 400 cycads, creating the cycad amphitheatre.
Encephalartos latifrons occurs in the Eastern Cape. There are so few specimens left in the wild that they have to be pollinated by hand.