WHO ARE WE?
The SAEON Fynbos Node forms part of the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON), a business unit within the National Research Foundation. The Department of Science and Technology established SAEON as an institute to conduct long term environmental observation and promote an informed and timely response to global change.
SAEON is an institution with a country wide presence that encompasses the major terrestrial, coastal and oceanic environments. Its activities cover the entire research-development-innovation value chain ranging from collecting, processing, archiving and interpreting data; through to developing data products and services; and up to transferring data products and related technologies to end users that include policy makers and environmental managers.
SAEON works in collaboration with government agencies, universities, research institutions, industrial partners and civil society.
The Fynbos Node is hosted by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) at their research hub in the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens.
We aim to understand the impacts of global change in Fynbos and how this will affect us by answering these questions:
How does fynbos work?
How are we changing fynbos and what it does for us?
WHY FOCUS ON FYNBOS?
The Fynbos region on the tip of Africa harbours plants and animals of immense diversity and distinctive character. The unique flora are best known and have led to this area being declared one of six floral kingdoms in the world. The Cape Floral Region contains almost 9 000 plant species, and of these, two-thirds are found nowhere else. The fauna in the region is similarly unique, albeit for the most part less speciose. This region has an exceptionally long evolutionary history, with speciation of the Cape flora beginning 18 million years ago, resulting in a hyperdiverse system of intricate complexity.
FYNBOS UNDER THREAT
Fynbos ecosystems and the properties of the species that live in them, provide a number of functions and products that are critical to society, including carbon storage, nutrient cycling, and the interception, retention and filtration of fresh water. Unfortunately these ecosystems are under threat from a number of global change factors driven by human activities such as:
• invasive alien species
• habitat transformation and fragmentation
• changes in atmospheric CO2
• climate change
These change factors impact on the processes and drivers that determine the assembly of ecosystems, altering their composition and structure, with consequent impacts on ecosystem function and the benefits provided to society (read more). .