Wildflower Harvesting on the Agulhas Plain, South Africa: Challenges in a Fragmented Industry
The Agulhas Plain, in South Africa’s Western Cape Province, is home to the Cape Floristic Region (CFR), one of the richest floras in the world and the smallest of earth’s six plant kingdoms. The indigenous fynbos flora is harvested from the wild and is both exported and sold locally. Wildflower harvesting represents an industry which to an extent is achieving conservation goals simultaneously with goals of socio-economic development. Both of these objectives are fundamental in the South African context, due to the conservational value of the CFR, and also to address deeply entrenched socio-economic disparities and high poverty levels both of which are legacies of the apartheid era. The wildflower harvesting industry currently faces many challenges which are hindering the sustainability of the industry. The specific challenges are; working within the constraints of nature, a lack of regulation, poverty alleviation and a highly competitive production and marketing environment (both locally and internationally). The strong competition which exists has resulted in fragmentation of the industry and a breakdown in communication. Recent research, which provides the basis for this thesis, indicates that the wildflower harvesting industry needs to pull together and improve communication levels in order to provide a strong voice through which the multitude of challenges facing the wildflower harvesting industry can be addressed collectively. Without such a collective voice, the sustainability of the industry, the environment and the livelihoods of disadvantaged communities could be affected. This thesis examines the context of wildflower harvesting and suggests that the formation of a ‘Wildflower Harvesting Forum’ could provide a potential solution with wide-ranging benefits.
Advisor: Binns, Tony
Degree Name: Master of Planning
Degree Discipline: Geography
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Agulhas Plain; South Africa; wildflower harvesting; Cape Floristic Region; sustainability; povery alleviation; conservation
Research Type: Thesis