Pupils get schooled on biodiversity

Pupils from across the peninsula will be able to enjoy Cape Town’s biodiversity at 16 nature reserves in May and June, the City of Cape Town has said.

Johan van der Merwe, mayoral committee member for energy, environmental and spatial planning, said educational conservation programmes at the reserves had proven popular in the past.

“We hope that our programmes may be the spark for budding nature enthusiasts,” he said.

“Our reserves are intertwined with our communities, and it is especially important for us to connect learners from our more vulnerable communities to the biodiversity of our city.”

Pupils from about 15 schools will take part in the programmes at the Tygerberg, Table Bay, Blaauwberg, Witzands, Edith Stephens, Bracken, Zandvlei, Helderberg and False Bay nature reserves. Exhibitions will be held at libraries and shopping centres, including Brackenfell and Kraaifontein libraries.

“We all depend on biodiversity – which means the variety of life on earth – in ways that are not always obvious or appreciated,” said Mr Van der Merwe.

The availability of food, clean water and air depended on healthy ecosystems, and biodiversity not only provided areas for public enjoyment it also helped to create jobs.

“This International Day for Biological Diversity (Sunday May 22), let us make a start by doing something positive for our environment.

“Already, 13 of our plant species are classed as extinct. A further 319 plant types are threatened with extinction,” said Mr Van der Merwe.

Capetonians can get involved in various ways:

* Visiting nature reserves throughout the year. Schools wishing to book for environmental education programmes at their local nature reserve can visit capetown.gov.za/naturereserves.

* Visiting the Smart Living Challenge Zone at the Two Oceans Aquarium, which includes a digital interactive installation on biodiversity.

* Joining an environmental club or a nature reserve friends group.

* Always planting non-invasive local (indigenous) water-wise plants in your garden.

* Reporting non-indigenous invasive plants and animals. Visit www.capetowninvasives.org.za or you can email invasive.species @capetown.gov.za.

* Starting an organic food garden (which does not use pesticides) at your home, at your school or in your community.

* Avoiding the use of pesticides and harsh chemicals, as these can harm the plants and animals.

* Being aware that we share our city with many wild animals and always treating them with respect and care.