Edited by Charles Perrings, Mark Williamson and Silvana Dalmazzone
Chapter 9: Economic consequences of alien infestation of the Cape Floral Kingdom's Fynbos vegetation
9. Economic consequences of alien infestation of the Cape Floral Kingdom’s Fynbos vegetation Jane Turpie and Barry Heydenrych* 1 INTRODUCTION Fynbos (meaning ‘ﬁne bush’) is the name of the dominant vegetation of the Cape Floral Kingdom on the southwestern part (6 per cent) of South Africa. The Cape Floral Kingdom is the smallest of the world’s six ﬂoral kingdoms, and is also the richest (Cowling and Richardson, 1995). It has been described as ‘the worlds hottest hotspot’ (Myers, 1990) in terms of its biodiversity, having 8700 species of which 68 per cent are endemic to the kingdom (Low and Rebelo, 1996). Although much of this heath-like Fynbos vegetation remains today, thanks to its occupation of relatively sandy, infertile soils, it is becoming increasingly threatened by the rapid invasion of alien trees and shrubs, far more so than other South African biomes. While this process of degradation has been continuing for more than a century, it is only relatively recently that people have begun to realize the magnitude of the ecological and economic consequences that this may have. Serious control programmes have thus been initiated, but ecologists would argue that even more funding needs to be spent on the problem. However, with South Africa’s pressing socioeconomic needs, funding is hard to come by and every cent spent needs to be strongly justiﬁed. This chapter reviews existing published and unpublished information on the ecology and economic consequences of alien infestation of Fynbos vegetation, and attempts to ﬁll some of the gaps...
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