The Cape Floral Region is of outstanding and universal value for the biological and ecological processes of its distinctive and beautiful Fynbos vegetation. It is one of the world’s six floral kingdoms, one of the world’s 35 biodiversity hotspots, a Global Centre of Plant Diversity, a Global 200 priority ecoregion, and an Endemic Bird Area. The region surpasses all other Mediterranean climatic regions in density of species, and range of unusual reproductive traits and plant adaptations. The 13 protected area clusters in the World Heritage site support a large proportion of the region’s 9,000 plant species (i.e. 20% of Africa’s flora) and 1,736 threatened plant species covering a wide spectrum of elevations, soils and climatic conditions.


South Africa


Cape Floral Region Protected Areas


2004: Inscribed on the World Heritage List under Natural Criteria ix and x.

2014: Nominated for extension under original criteria

2015: Extended property inscribed under original criteria


The UNESCO World Heritage Committee adopted the following Statement of Outstanding Universal Value at the time of inscription:

Brief synthesis

The Cape Floral Region has been recognised as one of the most special places for plants in the world in terms of diversity, density and number of endemic species. The property is a highly distinctive phytogeographic unit which is regarded as one of the six Floral Kingdoms of the world and is by far the smallest and relatively the most diverse. It is recognised as one of the world’s ‘hottest hotspots’ for its diversity of endemic and threatened plants, and contains outstanding examples of significant ongoing ecological, biological and evolutionary processes. This extraordinary assemblage of plant life and its associated fauna is represented by a series of 13 protected area clusters covering an area of more than 1 million ha. These protected areas also conserve the outstanding ecological, biological and evolutionary processes associated with the beautiful and distinctive Fynbos vegetation, unique to the Cape Floral Region.

Criterion (ix): The property is considered of Outstanding Universal Value for representing ongoing ecological and biological processes associated with the evolution of the unique Fynbos biome. These processes are represented generally within the Cape Floral Region and captured in the component areas that make up the 13 protected area clusters. Of particular scientific interest are the adaptations of the plants to fire and other natural disturbances; seed dispersal by ants and termites; the very high level of plant pollination by insects, mainly beetles and flies, birds and mammals; and high levels of adaptive radiation and speciation. The pollination biology and nutrient cycling are other distinctive ecological processes found in the site. The Cape Floral Region forms a centre of active speciation where interesting patterns of endemism and adaptive radiation are found in the flora.

Criterion (x): The Cape Floral Region is one of the richest areas for plants when compared to any similar sized area in the world. It represents less than 0.5% of the area of Africa but is home to nearly 20% of the continent’s flora. The outstanding diversity, density and endemism of the flora are among the highest worldwide. Some 69% of the estimated 9,000 plant species in the region are endemic, with 1,736 plant species identified as threatened and with 3,087 species of conservation concern. The Cape Floral Region has been identified as one of the world’s 35 biodiversity hotspots.


The originally inscribed Cape Floral Region Protected Areas serial property comprised eight protected areas covering a total area of 557,584 ha, and included a buffer zone of 1,315,000 ha. The extended Cape Floral Region Protected Areas property comprises 1,094,742 ha of protected areas and is surrounded by a buffer zone of 798,514 ha. The buffer zone is made up of privately owned, declared Mountain Catchment Areas and other protected areas, further supported by other buffering mechanisms that are together designed to facilitate functional connectivity and mitigate for the effects of global climate change and other anthropogenic influences.

The collection of protected areas adds up in a synergistic manner to present the biological richness and evolutionary story of the Cape Floral Region. All the protected areas included in the property, except for some of the privately owned, declared Mountain Catchment Areas, have existing dedicated management plans, which have been revised, or are in the process of revision in terms of the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act. Mountain Catchment Areas are managed in terms of the Mountain Catchment Areas Act. Progress with increased protection through public awareness and social programmes to combat poverty, improved management of mountain catchment areas and stewardship programmes is being made.

Protection and management requirements

The serial World Heritage property and its component parts, all legally designated protected areas, are protected under the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act (57 of 2003). The property is surrounded by extensive buffer zones (made up of privately owned, declared Mountain Catchment Areas and other protected areas) and supported by various buffering mechanisms in the region. Together, these provide good connectivity and landscape integration for most of the protected area clusters, especially in the mountain areas. The protected areas that make up the property are managed by three authorities: South African National Parks (SANParks), Western Cape Nature Conservation Board (CapeNature) and Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency. These authorities, together with the national Department of Environmental Affairs, make up the Joint Management Committee of the property. All of the sites are managed in accordance with agreed management plans, however, there is a recognised need for a property-wide management strategy in the form of an Environmental Management Framework.

Knowledge management systems are being expanded to advise improved planning and management decision-making, thus facilitating the efficient use of limited, but increasing, resources relating in particular to the management of fire and invasive alien species. The provision of long-term, adequate funding to all of the agencies responsible for managing the property is essential to ensure effective management of the multiple components across this complex serial site.

Invasive alien species and fire are the greatest management challenges facing the property at present. Longer-term threats include climate change and development pressures caused by a growing population, particularly in the Cape Peninsula and along some coastal areas. These threats are well understood and addressed in the planning and management of the protected areas and their buffer zones. Invasive species are being dealt with through manual control programmes that have been used as a reference for other parts of the world.


1975: De Hoop Vlei designated a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention, extended 1986 (750 ha).

1998: Kogelberg in the Boland Complex recognised as a Biosphere Reserve under the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Programme (103,629 ha).

2000: Cape West Coast is recognised as a Biosphere Reserve under the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Programme (386,100 ha).

2007: Cape Winelands is recognised as a Biosphere Reserve under the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Programme (322,000 ha).

2015: Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve is recognised under the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Programme (608,844 ha).


Between the 13 clusters there are 50 protected areas which span a variety of IUCN management categories.


Cape Sclerophyll (3.11.6).


The Cape Floral Region (CFR) is located in southwest and southern South Africa between the coast and the Cederberg and Swartberg Mountain ranges, mostly in Western Cape Province. The World Heritage property comprises thirteen protected area clusters over an area about 900 km long by an average of 110 km wide between approximately 32° 36’S to 34° 30’S and 18°18’E to 25° 50’E. In relation to Cape Town, the Cederberg Complex, bordering the Succulent Karoo and extended by the Matjiesrivier Nature Reserve is the most north-westerly protected area and close to the limits of the CFR. To the south of this lies the Groot Winterhoek Complex, extended by the Groot Winterhoek Nature Reserve. Further south again is the Table Mountain National Park, the most south-westerly part of the CFR. A number of contiguous reserves comprise the Boland Mountain Complex, which is found on the eastern shore of False Bay, itself found across from Table Mountain National Park. To the North of the Boland Mountain Complex lies the Hexriver Complex. All of the above components of the CFR lie in a north to south orientation along a range of mountains which form part of the Cape Fold Belt. To the East of the Boland Mountain Complex is the Riviersonderend Nature Reserve, which bridges the gap between the Boland Mountain Complex and the extended Langeberg Complex. To the south of the Langeberg Complex is the Agulhas Complex, within which is the most southerly point in Africa, whereas to the north of the Langeberg Complex is the Anysberg Nature Reserve. East of the Agulhas Complex is De Hoop Nature Reserve, and further east still is the Garden Route Complex. Due North of the Garden Route Complex is the Swartberg Complex, found in the Swartberg Mountains and parallel to the east/west coast in the northern extreme of the CFR. The extended Baviaanskloof Complex lies to the east of the Swartberg Complex in the Eastern Cape Province.

Cederberg Wilderness Area 32°36’20” S / 19°08’17” E -- 32°07’10” S / 19°02’05” E
Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area 33°10’52" S / 19°05’50" E -- 32°59’05” S / 19°09’15” E
Boland Mountain Complex 34°20’43" S / 19°05’48" E -- 33°22’20” S / 19°03’54” E
De Hoop Nature Reserve 34°30’12" S / 20°27’07" E -- 34°22’40" S / 20°36’13" E
Swartberg Complex 33°24’19” S / 20°35’30” E -- 33°22’40” S / 24°50’55” E
Baviaanskloof Protected Areas 33°34’00” S / 24°30’16” E -– 33°25’35” S / 23°30’02” E
Table Mountain National Park 34o13’32” S / 18o27’33” E –- 33o59’18” S / 18o23’’50” E
Hexriver Complex 33°26’49” S / 19°27’33” E -– 33°31’56” S / 19°22’27” E
Riviersonderend Nature Reserve 34°03’33” S / 19°20’37” E -– 33°56’10” S / 19°32’39” E
Agulhas Complex 34°49’38” S / 19°59’57” E -– 34°42’39” S / 20°07’08” E
Langeberg Complex 34°04’05” S / 20°27’56” E –- 33°44’36” S / 20°02’26” E
Garden Route Complex 34°06’14” S / 23°23’45” E –- 33°47’00” S / 23°26’32” E
Anysberg Nature Reserve 33°28’57” S / 20°38’49” E


Each Reserve within the Cape Floral Region has had a long history of increasing protection of differing types before final gazettement. Key events are given below:

1896 - 1985: Boosmansbos Wilderness Area, the oldest protected area in the Langeberg Complex is established, which is followed by ten additional protected areas the latest of which was Paardeberg Nature Reserve in 1985.

1897: The Cederberg Wilderness Area is established under National Forest Act.

1897 - 1971: Bokkeriviere Nature Reserve, the oldest protected area in the Hexriver Complex, is established. The Hexriver Complex now also includes three additional protected areas, the most recent of which to be established was the Bet-Etive Nature Reserve in 1971.

1912 – 2004: The Swartberg Complex is established, the first of eight protected areas in the Swartberg Complex.

1923: Baviaanskloof Nature Reserve is established, thus forming the starting point for the Baviaanskloof Complex.

1937 - 2002: The eight component parts of the Boland Complex are established, starting with the Boland Complex itself in 1937 and lastly the Rooisand (Botrivier) Nature Reserve in 2002.

1940: Riviersonderend Nature Complex is established under National Forest Act.

1975: De Hoop vlei designated a Ramsar site, expanded in 1986.

1976: The Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area is established under National Forest Act.

1984: Anysberg Nature Reserve is established under the National Forests Act.

1987: Baviaanskloof Protected Area is proclaimed a Wilderness Area, it is comprised of Baviaanskloof Nature Reserve State Forest and Conservation Area.

1990: De Hoop Nature Reserve is proclaimed under Nature Conservation Ordinance 19 of 1974; the De Hoop Marine Protected Area is gazetted under the Sea Fisheries Act 12/1988.

1998: Kogelberg in the Boland Complex is designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

1998: Table Mountain National Park is established under the National Parks Act 57 of 1976 and the Cape Nature Conservation Ordinance 19 of 1974.

1999: Agulhas National Park is created under the Protected Areas Act.

2009: The Garden Route National Park is established under the Protected Areas Act; the Garden Route National Park forms the most recently established of the ten protected areas which constitute the Garden Route Complex.

2015: The World Heritage site is extended under natural criteria (ix) and (x).


The State, in collaboration with the local authorities own the majority of the Table Mountain National Park. All thirteen protected area (PA) complexes are now administered by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) which delegates part of its authority to the three management agencies in charge of the different components, South African National Parks (SANParks), CapeNature (Western Cape) and the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency. All the protected areas included in the 2015 extension are owned or managed by the State. The few areas which were not owned by the State were bought by WWF-SA and have an ‘in perpetuity’ lease agreement.


The World Heritage property covers 1,094,742 ha (10,947.4 in 13 clusters, i.e. over 12% of the whole Cape Floristic Region of 90,000, and is surrounded by buffer zones of 798,513 ha. The areas of each cluster as given in the IUCN evaluation report are:

Site Property area Buffer zone area
Cederberg Complex 77,945 ha 121,039 ha
Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area 27,509 ha 103,541 ha
Boland Mountain Complex 124,717 ha 79,418 ha
De Hoop Nature Reserve 32,481 ha 31,806 ha
Swartberg Complex 187,337 ha 92,295 ha
Baviaanskloof Complex 249,399 ha 808 ha
Table Mountain National Park 21,630 ha 101,400 ha
Hexriver Complex 22,641 ha 88,248 ha
Riviersonderend Nature Reserve 26,630 ha 42,626 ha
Agulhas Complex 24,159 ha 0 ha
Langeberg Complex 43,660 ha 76,420 ha
Garden Route Complex 176,998 ha 60,906 ha
Anysberg Nature Reserve 79,629 ha 0 ha


Sea level to 2,077m (Groot Winterhoek Peak).


The Cape Floral Region lies between the Ocean and the L-shaped mountain chains that parallel the coast. Many of the protected area clusters, including the Table Mountain National Park are predominantly montane in nature. The Cederberg, Groot Winterhoek, Cape Peninsula and north half of the Boland Mountain Complex just east of Cape Town lie in north-south ranges running parallel to the Atlantic Ocean. The Cederberg and Groot Winterhoek extensions are primarily montane, though the clusters more generally also includes lowland habitats. The east half of Boland, the long Swartberg mountains and Baviaanskloof run from 200 to 600 kilometres east of Cape Town parallel to the Indian Ocean. The mountain catchments within the Riviersonderend Nature Reserve provide water to the Overberg and Boland regions and feeds into the Breede River. The Hexriver complex resides to the north of the Boland Mountain Complex, across from the Breede River. De Hoop Nature Reserve and the Agulhas Complex are in the Agulhas Plain on the southern coast.

The highest ranges of the Cape fold mountain belt, reaching over 2000m high, are formed of the rugged highly sculptured Table Mountain and Witteberg Groups of barren quartzitic sandstone intermixed with Bokkeveld Group shales and overlying the sometimes exposed eroded Cape Granite. These form a scenic backdrop to the entire region, with beautiful mountain passes, and along the Oliphants River, rapids, cascades and pools. The predominant soils, derived from the sandstone, are shallow, sandy, nutrient-poor and acidic, characteristic of fynbos (fine-leaved bush) areas. Soils are skeletal at high elevations. Valley soils are richer clays derived from the intermixed shales. The same is found in a more complex jumble in Boland Mountain and less complex in the Boesmansbos and Swartberg mountains and those surrounding the Baviaanskoof valley. Renosterveld flatland soils are slightly richer than the predominant fynbos type. Recent coastal sands are highly alkaline. This range of differing altitudes, bedrock types and soils produces marked local differences in plant species. The climatic, topographic and pedological diversity of the Cape Peninsula make it the most diverse of all these areas.


The Region has a semi-Mediterranean climate of cool wet winters and hot dry summers in the west with somewhat rainier summers in the east. Rainfall varies markedly with topography: between 300-500mm in the lowlands and 1000-3300mm in the mountains where clouds and fog can persist and snow falls in winter. Temperatures range from below freezing to above 40°C in the northern Cederberg and 45°C in the Swartberg. Coastal areas near the oceans are more temperate. Winters are influenced by depressions from the prevailing circumpolar westerlies. Coastal winds can be strong, and in winter hot dusty bergwinds occasionally blow from the interior, aggravating the natural fires which occur at 10 to 20 year intervals. This produces a mosaic of climatic and microclimatic zones which contribute to the complexity and diversity of the flora.

However, the Cape Floristic Region is highly sensitive to climate change and may lose much of its northern limits over the next few decades, with powerful effects on its unique vegetation (Hoffman et al., 2009). Its mountains lack permanent snow providing little altitudinal retreat for existing high montane species, and there is little space for any retreat south. Fires and droughts will increasingly affect short-lived and sensitive species (IPCC, 2003).


The Cape Floral Region has been called the world’s hottest hot-spot for plant diversity and endemism and it has been identified as one of the Global Centres of Plant Diversity. Although the smallest of the world’s six principal floristic regions and in a temperate zone, it has by far the highest species density and species rarity of any Mediterranean-type climatic region. In less than 0.38% of the area of Africa it has nearly 20% of its flora and five of the continent’s twelve endemic families. In less than 4% of the area of southern Africa it has nearly 44% of the sub continental flora of 20,367 species. 70% of its vascular plant species do not occur naturally anywhere else in the world, but many are threatened. Within its 90,000 area there are 8,996 plant species and 988 genera, roughly half of all genera in South Africa. 31.9% of its species are endemic. These include five endemic and two sub-endemic families and 1,435 (70%) of all southern African threatened species. There is also a very high species-to-genus ratio of 9:1, and species-to-family ratio of 52:1. Within the Region, the southwest has the most diverse flora, and of these species the Cape Peninsula has almost half, with 25% of the flora of the whole Region. This pattern of species richness is exceptional for this climatic type, not only in a single habitat but over changes of taxa with changes in habitat (beta diversity) and in changes of taxa in similar habitats over changes in geographic area (gamma diversity).

There are some 6,191 endemic species in the Region. The Cape Peninsula has 2,285 species of plants, 90 being endemic to the peninsula, the Cederberg has 1,778, including the local cedar Widdringtonia cedarbergensis (EN). Boland Mountain Complex has 1,600 plant species, 150 being endemic. None of the sites has less than 1,100 species. This richness is due to the wide variety of macrohabitats and microhabitat mosaics resulting from the range of elevations, soils and climatic conditions, including the co-existence of winter-rainfall species with summer-rainfall species from further east. The flora also has concentrations of relict endemics and massive still-active speciation due to its isolation in an area of very long established climatic stability which has generated most of the enormous diversity. The flora of each component part is sufficiently distinct to justify representation of the region by several sites, each of which is large enough to preserve the genetic viability of its type and to accommodate large-scale natural processes such as fire and drought. Eight Phytogeographic Centres of endemism have been distinguished in the Cape Floral Region; of which 27 were already formally conserved in the inscribed property and an additional 48 conserved in the most recent extension.

SouthwesternBoland Mountain Complex / Table Mountain National Park. Riviersonderend Nature Reserve

Northwestern Cederberg Wilderness / Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Areas / Hexriver Complex

Agulhas Plain De Hoop Nature Reserve / Agulhas Complex

Langeberg Langeberg Complex / Riviersonderend Nature Reserve

Karoo Mountain Swartberg Complex / Anysberg Nature Reserve / Hexriver Complex

Little Karoo Swartberg Complex

Southeastern Baviaanskloof

Albany Baviaanskloof / Garden Route Complex

The distinctive flora of the Cape Floral Region, comprising 80% of its floristic richness, is a sclerophyllous shrubland known as fynbos (fine bush), a fine-leaved vegetation adapted to both the Mediterranean type of climate and to periodic fires. It is defined by location or by dominant species such as coastal, mountain or grassy or proteoid fynbos. Its four main components are heaths, the Proteaceae, reed-like Restionaceae and geophytes (bulb-plants) including many Iridaceae. It grows on predominantly coarse sandy, acidic nutrient-poor soils, and on alkaline marine sands and slightly richer alluvial soils of the renosterveld, poor in Protoaceae but rich in Asteraceae, There are pockets of evergreen forest in fire-protected gorges and on deeper soils; in the east are valley thicket and succulent thicket, which are less fire-dependent, and in the drier north, low succulent Karoo shrubland which has an unparalleled diversity of species. The flora includes spectacular proteas, irises, gladioli, perlargoniums, and a wide array of flowering succulents, mainly Aizoaceae, many Orchidaceae and useful species of the Fabaceae. The native flora has relatively few trees but patches of indigenous forest remain in mountain valleys where they are protected from fire although the native trees grow too slowly for cultivation.

Four other characteristics of global scientific interest are the responses of the plants of the region to 1) fire, 2) seed dispersal by ants and termites (myrmecochory), 3) the high level (83%) of plant pollination by insects, mainly beetles and flies and 4) its Gondwanaland floristic relicts which allow the reconstruction of very ancient floral communities. Adaptation to fire include geophytes which sprout from underground and seed storage both underground and in the canopy, some species requiring fire for germination. Ants take the seeds to eat the lipid deposits; about 28% of the Region’s flora including over half of the Proteaceae is dispersed by them. Most of the shrubs so dispersed are both endemic and threatened species but the latter lack a way of regenerating after fire. Pollination and nutrient-cycling by termites, and termite-mound communities, mainly in the renosterveld flatlands, are notable. The region also has very high levels of plants pollinated by mammals and birds.


The Cape Faunal Centre is a distinct zoogeographic zone that coincides roughly with the Floral Region as far as the eastern end of Western Cape Province. In general the fauna is less remarkable than the flora, except for a distinctive relict invertebrate fauna of an exceptionally high level of endemism which persists in upper forest streams, riverine forests and caves, especially in the Table Mountain National Park and the Cederberg and Groot Winterhoek mountains. Characteristic rare relict species are the velvet worms Peripatopsis leonina (CR), P.alba (VU) and P.clavigera (VU). This velvet worm fauna has changed little since the era of Gondwanaland and is the oldest and least disturbed fauna on the continent. It is notable that the relict palaeogenic species are limited to the same areas as hot-spots for rare plants. Kogelberg Nature Reserve in Boland Mountain has 150 endemic species and is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. De Hoop Reserve along the coast includes a Ramsar-designated coastal vlei (seasonal lake) and has 260 bird species. The large Baviaanskloof Reserve is a good example of the Region’s faunal diversity, with 310 bird species, 58 mammals, 56 reptiles, 17 amphibians, 15 fish and 55 butterflies, several species being endemic.

Particularly in the foothills and mountains, larger mammals such as chacma baboon Papio ursinus, honey-badger Mellivora capensis, Cape clawless otter Aonyx capensis, leopard Panthera pardus, aardvark Orycteropus afer, eland Taurotragus oryx, the regional endemic bontebok Damaliscus dorcas and diverse mustelids and viverrids occur. There are also Cape horseshoe bat Rhinolophus capensis, spectacled dormouse Graphiuris ocularis, the regionally endemic Cape gerbil Gerbilliscus afra and several threatened amphibians. The region is an Endemic Bird Area with, on the coast, jackass penguin Spheniscus demersens (VU), blue crane Grus paradisea (VU), Cape vulture Gyps coprotheres (VU), black eagle Aquila verreauxii, martial eagle Polemaetus bellicosus, fish eagle Haliaeetus vocifer, black harrier Circus maurus (VU), lanner falcon Falco biarmicus, lesser kestrel F. naumanni (VU) and Knysna scrub-warbler Bradypterus sylvaticus (VU). Near-threatened species include Cape cormorant Phalacrocorax capensis and African oystercatcher Haematopus moquini. There are also fynbos endemics such as the orange-breasted sunbird Nectarinia violacea, Cape siskin Serinus totta and Protea canary Serinus leucopterus. South African amphibian species indigenous to the Region and endemic to it are 44 and 24 respectively, of which 5 are threatened. Endemic reptiles indigenous to the Region and endemic to it number 142 and 27, of which 5 are also threatened, notably the Table Mountain ghost frog Heleophryne rosei (CR), Cape mountain toad Capensibufo rosei (VU), Cape clawed toad Xenopus gilli (EN) and geometric tortoise Psammobates geometricus (EN). There are also the butterflies red hill copper Aloeides egerides (VU) and Thestor yildizae (VU).

The Cederberg range has the armadillo spiny-tailed Cordylus cataphractus (VU) and McLachlan’s spiny-tailed lizards C. mclachlani (VU); and in the mountains, as well as raptors, there are the Cape sugar bird Promerops cafer, Knysna woodpecker Campethera notata and Cape rockjumper Chaetops frenatus. The Cederberg range is exceptional in the fish of the Oliphants river system in which eight out of ten species are endemic, the most in any river south of the Zambezi: one species is critically endangered, the Twee river redfin Barbus erubescens (CR); five are endangered and two are vulnerable: spotted rock catfish Austroglanis barnardi (EN), Clanwilliam redfin Barbus calidus (EN), Clanwilliam sandfish Labio seeberi (EN), fiery redfin Pseudobarbus phlegethon (EN), and sawfin Barbus serra (EN); and Clanwilliam yellowfish Barbus capensis (VU) and Clanwilliam rock catfish A. gilli (VU),. The Kogelberg has the Berg River redfin Pseudobarbus burgi (EN), and Boesmansbos the Tradou and slender redfins Pseudobarbus burchelli (CR) and P. tenuis (EN) and Cape whitefish Barbus andrewi (VU). The slender redfin is also found in the Swartberg. Baaviaanskloof has Eastern Cape redfin Pseudobarbus afer (EN) and smallscale redfin P. asper (VU). Other fish species indigenous and endemic to the Region number 19 and 16 respectively, of which 14 are threatened.

In the De Hoop reserve the endemic Cape mountain zebra Equus zebra (VU) is an important source for reintroduction of these animals to other reserves. The fauna in the Swartberg protected areas reflects their location close to the fynbos-Karoo interface with species such as grysbok Raphicerus melanotis, grey rhebuck Pelea capreolus and klipspringer Oreotragus, steenbok Raphicerus campestris and grey duiker Sylvicapra grimmia, as well as karoo species not usually found in mountain fynbos such as springbok Antidorcas marsupialus. It also has the rare white-tailed mouse Mystromys albicaudatus (EN) and relict stag beetle Colophon montisatris (CR); the beetles Colophon barnardii (VU) and C. thunbergii (VU) occur in Boesmansbos.

Further east, nearer the more sub-tropical faunal region, kudu Tragelaphus strepsiceros and the mountain zebra (VU) occur in Baviaanskloof which also has the rare Smith’s dwarf chameleon Bradypodion taeniabronchum (EN). The rare micro frog Microbatrachella capensis (CR) is found in the Hottentots Holland Reserve.


The Cape Floral Region is one of the 35 world areas designated by Conservation International as a biodiversity hotspot. It is a Global Centre of Plant Diversity, a Global 200 priority ecoregion, an Endemic Bird Area and also contains both a Ramsar wetland and four UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme Biosphere Reserves. It surpasses all other Mediterranean-climate regions in species density and diversity. The sites form an archipelago of outstanding value for the biological and ecological processes of the distinctive and scenic Fynbos biome. It owes its diversity to an unusual range of elevations, soils, climatic conditions and the survival in isolation of relict species. Within the 90,000 km2 area, there are 9,000 plant species and 1,435 threatened plant species. The Cape Faunal Centre coincides roughly with the Region and contains a distinctive relictual fauna and 112 species of animals listed in South Africa’s Red Data Book. The natural beauty of the coastal areas, including the striking inselberg of Table Mountain, is very high.


Artefacts and fossils show that the region was occupied by humans at least 250,000 years ago. Stone tools from the Early Stone Age and hundreds of shell middens have been found. 20,000 years ago it was inhabited by Khoisan hunter-gatherers who left striking rock art some 5,000 years old. These were displaced 2,000 years ago by Khoikhoi pastoralists. Both cultures practiced controlled burning of the country. In 1488 the Portuguese Bartholomew Dias named the Cape of Good Hope and in 1652 the Dutch East India Company established a post. Settlement previously limited by the infertility of the area became feasible after suitable European crops were introduced by the colonists who cleared much of the lowlands for farming. The region is rich in rock art and historic buildings.


The population of the greater Cape Town area increased from about half a million in the mid-1960s to some 3.5 million in 2003 and is expected to reach 6.2 million by 2020. Except for the Cape Peninsula adjoining the metropolis, most of the component parts are nearly empty of people and buffered by lightly populated reserves, the mountains being almost unencroached on. But the high numbers neighbouring the Table Mountain National Park have necessitated social programs to combat poverty and enlist conservation awareness through volunteer group work.


The Cape is a popular tourist destination, both nationally and internationally, especially the Cape Peninsula which received in 2001-2 over a million fee-paying visitors and a million others. Flower, whale and penguin viewing are among the attractions beyond the range of recreational activities usual in mountain and remote country. Other reserve visitation varies between 58,500 a year in the Boland Mountain reserves near Cape Town, to 18,000 a year in Cederberg and De Hoop. For some components of the CFR, the impact of visitors is negligible, for example in the Hexriver Complex, where the main activities are trekking and which is controlled by permits. Infrastructure and reserve facilities are excellent and effective methods are used to control visitor numbers when necessary. The communications departments of the reserves have a broad range of outreach and educational programmes, information pamphlets, maps, brochures, and advertising campaigns both in the reserves and in travel magazines. Promotion uses other media outlets, meetings and discussions between reserve managers and neighbours in both provinces. The re-nomination file re-iterates that millions of tourists are drawn to the property each year but recent figures for visitor numbers per cluster were not made available.


This is one of the most intensely researched floral regions in the world. The original nomination’s bibliography lists 290 publications on the flora, fauna and culture of southwest Africa. Three local universities and the National Botanical Institute sponsor constant research. The Western Cape Nature Conservation Board (WCNCB) uses GIS recording in the State of Biodiversity database to capture, store, retrieve and process biological data on species distribution and populations, alien plant eradication, fire mapping, water quality and other ecological processes, all centrally stored at the Scientific Services Headquarters at Jonkershoek. Predictive models forecasting the potential effects of climate change on each area have been prepared. The Eastern Cape is also developing an information system. The various protected areas contribute to national monitoring exercises such as the Protea Atlas Project, the South African Bird-ringing Project, the Birds in Reserves Project, Frog Atlas Project, the Nest Record Card Scheme, the Information System for Endangered Plants and the WCNCB Provincial Fire Records database. All records for SANParks are held at the Cape Research Centre (the research wing of SANParks’ Conservation Services Division). The 200 hectare Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden and Institute near Cape Town have very good visitor and research facilities, focussing on research and public education about the fynbos.


The whole property falls within the Republic of South Africa. The national Department of Environmental Affairs is the State authority responsible for the property’s legal protection. There are three conservation agencies to which the management of the property is delegated: South African National parks (SANParks), CapeNature (Western Cape) and Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency. The property is therefore legally protected and managed by three authorities that, with the national Department of Environmental Affairs, constitute the CFRPA World Heritage Property Joint Management Committee (JMC). The JMC was established in 2010, and despite having a coordinating role, has limited decision-making power over any single protected area. Overall, the organisation and capacity of the property’s management is high, with each of the three authorities delivering effective protection and management.

All individual sites have management plans, however, some of these management plans are outdated whilst others are in the process of being updated. Furthermore, there are multiple plans, strategies and frameworks which are enacted at various spatial scales that also concern the property and the buffer zone. As noted in the IUCN evaluation report, the property lacks an overall management strategy but this framework is now being commissioned. The State Party has noted that several Environmental Management Frameworks (EMFs) already exist, and that it is crucial to effectively incorporate these into any overall management framework for the entire property. It was expected that work on an initial overall management plan would commence in 2015.

Examples of management utilised within the property includes zoning and buffering, stakeholder consultation, stewardship programmes, and landscape initiatives. CapeNature has developed a Working on Fire Programme to manage fires, and has trained and equipped over 1000 fire-fighting recruits since 2004. Fire management policies are now flexible enough to vary with species, frequency and intensity and are no longer subject to standard regimes. Local labour has also been used within the property, for example in the control of invasive plant species. Monitoring is also in place throughout the property, and accessible online through several citizen science based websites, for example: Overall, the governance arrangements for protected areas is considered adequate.


The main threats to the region include a rapid and ongoing invasion by alien vegetation, changes in the occurrence and management of fires and the uncontrolled exploitation of floral and marine resources which are pushing many species close to extinction. Species that depend on seed dispersal by ants and termites are particularly under threat. The risk of man-caused fires is increasing with urbanisation. Introduced resinous fast-burning trees such as pines, acacias and eucalypts notably increase fire intensities, erosion and soil loss, and fire control can be complicated by the splintered nature of land ownership, especially in Table Mountain National Park where urban encroachment and the risk of fire are constant.

Invasion by alien plants is increasing as the climate changes, and the planting of freely hybridising non-native proteas threaten the genetic purity of native species. The alien plants indeed have a higher water need and can out-compete indigenous flora, seriously threatening their diversity. Coastal dunes and mountain catchments have been the worst affected. Alien bass and trout have also had a significant impact on local fish populations, and the Argentine ant could displace the native seed-dispersing species. Furthermore, floods have threatened Baviaanskloof in the past, and global warming has already begun to affect the Western Cape, with the full impacts of future climate change uncertain. There is also the pressure from nature-based tourism, though most protected areas within the property have diverse visitor facilities, as well as control mechanisms for limiting visitor numbers, where necessary, to preserve the integrity of the site.

The re-nomination document noted that, overall, development pressures in each of the extension areas are “extremely low to non-existent”. The IUCN evaluation report also states that “Large areas of the property, especially in the mountains, have not suffered notably from past development and/or neglect”. However, some of the complexes, especially those along the coast and in the lowlands, may have been impacted by previous developments. Despite these pressures as of yet not being significant threats, and the current laws and regulations being deemed robust enough to protect the new extension, the urban development in areas such as the Garden Route Complex and the Langeberg Complex should be closely monitored. Furthermore, South Africa is seen as a global leader on best practice management for several of the management constraints faced by the property. Overall, the threats to the property are well understood and the existing management plans reflect this.


Staffing for each protected area varies in accordance to the requirements and size of the protected area in question. Each protected area does however have at least on Reserve Manager, who oversees a number of personnel who attend to the day-to-day operations of the protected area. These day-to-day activities include the monitoring, maintenance, administration and technical aspects of the protected area. The field staff are supported by the scientific staff, who predominantly focus on the knowledge management, GIS and research coordination. Staff levels fluctuate in all of the protected areas and therefore for the property by default. There is a large variation in the numbers of staff for the various clusters, for example Table Mountain National Park has employed over 200 staff at one time whereas other clusters such as Swartberg and De Hoop are normally under 50 staff. Despite recent statistics on the number of staff was not made available in the re-nomination file for all of the clusters the following clusters do have statistics: Table Mountain National Park (126 permanent staff), Baviaanskloof Complex (78 permanent staff and 475 support staff).


The Western Cape Nature Conservation Board administers 70 reserves and annually receives about R50 million (US\$6,100,000) directly from government and R50 million through the Working for Water Programme. In 2002-3 its Nature Reserves and related services received R56 million (US\$7,700,000). Although the provincial treasury allocated US\$8.35 million for 2008/09 and US\$2.5 million for 2009-10, funding is still needed to control invasive species and deal with the impacts of wildfires (UNESCO, 2009). The South African Government has committed approximately R8 (US\$494,095) per year to clear invaded land from invasive species and an additional R9.4 million (US\$ 580,562) for the Working on Fire Programme. The Table Mountain Fund is a Capital Trust fund designed to provide a sustainable source of funding to support biodiversity conservation. The 2000/3 budget for Table Mountain National Park was R40 million (US\$ 5,800,000) from grants, entry fees and concessions. In 2001 Baviaanskloof received one million dollars. Funds for the management of the protected areas are distributed through both national and provincial funds. A decline in government funding is slowly being balanced by an increase in fees from nature-tourism. This is important as Baviaanskloof has an annual operational budget of R1.1 Million (US\$ 67,938). Specific projects have been funded by the Global Environment Facility, the Norwegian government, the Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund and conservation NGOs. The GEF through the World Bank and UNDP, with the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund invested US\$20 million in the whole Cape Floral Region between 2005 and 2009 to support management of the protected areas (IUCN, 2008).


Chief Executive Officer, South African National Parks, P.O.Box 787, Pretoria 0001, South Africa.

Chief Director, Western Cape Nature Conservation, Western Cape Department of Nature and Environmental Conservation, P. B. X 9086, Cape Town 8000.

Reserve Manager, Cederberg Wilderness Area, PB X1, Citrusdal, 7340, Western Cape.

Reserve Manager, Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area, POB 26, Porterville, 6810, Western Cape.

Southwest Regional Office, (Boland Mountain Complex), PB X7, Belleville 7535.

Reserve Manager, De Hoop Nature Reserve, PB X16, Bredasdorp, 7280, Western Cape.

Reserve Manager, Swartberg Complex, PB X658, Oudtshoorn, 56620, Western Cape.

Reserve Manager, Baviaanskloof, POB 218, Patensie 6335, Eastern Cape.

Chief Inspector, Marine and Coastal Management, Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, P.B. X9014, Cape Town 8000.

Website Table Mountain National Park:


The principal source for the above information was the original nomination and re-nomination for World Heritage status and the IUCN evaluation reports.

Anon. (1998). Cape Town. The Table Mountain National Park and Winelands. Jacana.

Apps, P. (ed.) (2000). Smithers’ Mammals of Southern Africa: a Field Guide. Struik, Cape Town.

Arnold, T. & de Wet, B. (eds.) (1993). Plants of southern Africa. Names and distribution. Memoirs of the Botanical Survey of South Africa 62. National Botanical Institute. Pretoria.

Cowling, R. (1990). Diversity components in a species-rich area of the Cape Floristic Region. Journal of Vegetation Science No. 83. Pp. 699-710.

---------- (ed.) (1992).The Ecology of Fynbos – Nutrients, Fire and Diversity. Oxford University Press, Cape Town.

Cowling, R. & Holmes, P. (1992a). Flora and vegetation, in Cowling, R. (ed.).The Ecology of Fynbos. Oxford University Press, Cape Town.

---------- (1992b). Endemism and speciation in a lowland flora from the Cape Floristic Region in Botanical Journal of the Linnaean Society No. 47, pp. 367-383.

Cowling, R. & Hilton-Taylor, C. (1994). Patterns of plant diversity and endemism in southern Africa: An overview, Strelitzia No. 1. pp. 31-52.

Cowling, al. (1996). The Cape Peninsula South Africa: physiographical, biological and historical background to an extraordinary hotspot of biodiversity, Biodiversity and Conservation No.5. pp. 527-550.

Cowling, R. & Richardson, D. (1998). Fynbos – South Africa’s Unique Floral Kingdom. Fernwood Press, Vlaeberg, Western Cape.

Dallman, P. (1998). Plant Life in the World’s Mediterranean Climates. Oxford University Press.

Davis, S. & Heywood, V. (1994). Centres of Plant Diversity: A Guide and Strategy for their Conservation. Oxford University Press.

Fishpool, L. & Evans, M. (eds) (2001). Important Bird Areas in Africa and Associated Islands. Pisces Publications / Birdlife International, Newbury & Cambridge, U.K. BLI Conservation Series No.11.

Gelderblom C. (2003). Turning strategy into action: implementing a conservation action plan in the Cape Floristic Region. Biological Conservation p. 112.

Goldblatt, P. & Manning, J. (1999). Cape Flora – A Conspectus of the Cape Flora of South Africa.

Government of the Republic of South Africa (2003). Nomination of The Cape Floral Region of South Africa for Inclusion on the World Heritage List. [Contains a bibliography of 290 references, covering the whole Cape Floral Region.]

Hoffman, M, Carrick, P., L. Gillson, L. & West, A. (2009). Drought, climate change and vegetation response in the succulent karoo, South Africa. South African Journal of Science 105: 54-60.

IUCN (2009). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Gland, Switzerland & Cambridge, U.K.

---------- (2008). State of Conservation Cape Floral Region Protected Areas (South Africa). Gland, Switzerland.

IPCC (2007). Climate Change 2007. Impacts, Adaptations and Vulnerability. 4th Assessment Report. Grid Arendal, Norway. 986 pp.

---------- (2003). Climate Change 2001. Impacts, Adaptations and Vulnerability. Chap.19, 3rd Assessment Report. Grid Arendal, Norway. 171 pp.

IUCN/WCU (2004). Evaluation of Nominations of Natural and Mixed Properties to the World Heritage List. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.

McDonald, I. & Cowling, R. (1996). Biodiversity and conservation on Table Mountain and the Cape Peninsula. Journal of Biodiversity and Conservation 5.

Midgely, G. et al. (2005). A Status Quo, Vulnerability and Adaptation Assessment of the Physical and

*Socio-Economic Effects of Climate Change in the Western Cape. CSIR Report No. ENV-S-C 2005-073. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Kirstenbosch Research Centre, Cape Town. Department of Environmental Affairs, Government of the Western Cape. CSIR Environmentek, Stellenbosch. 171 pp

Mittermeier R. et. al. (1999). Hotspots – Earth’s Biologically Richest and Most Endangered Terrestrial Regions. Conservation International, 431 pp.

Myers, N. (1990). The Biodiversity challenge: Expanded hot-spot analysis. The Environmentalist. No.10: 243-55.

Paterson-Jones, C. (ed.) (1997). The Cape Floral Kingdom.

Richardson, et. al. (1996). Current and future threats to plant diversity on the Cape peninsula, South Africa in: Biodiversity and Conservation. No. 5. Pp. 607-648.

South African National Parks / Western Cape Nature Conservation (1999). Nomination Proposal for the Cape Floristic Region, Phase 1; Cape Peninsula Protected Natural Environment to be Listed as a World Heritage Site. Dept. of Environmental Affairs & Tourism, South Africa. [Contains a bibliography of 208 references covering the whole region.]

UNESCO World Heritage Committee (2009). Report of the 33rd Session of the Committee. Paris.


2000. Updated 9-2003, 3-2005, 8-2010, 5-2011, 1- 2012, 12-2015.