World Heritage Site - Cape Floral Kingdom - South Africa

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Cape Floral Region

A serial site - located in the Cape Province, South Africa - made up of eight protected areas, covering 553 000 hectares. The Cape Floral Region is one of the richest areas for plants 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! It takes up 0.04% of the world's land area, yet contains 3% of its plant species, making it one of the globe's 18 biodiversity hot spots.

The site displays outstanding ecological and biological processes associated with the fib's vegetation, which is unique to the Cape Floral Region. The outstanding diversity, density and endemism of the flora are among the highest worldwide. Unique plant reproductive strategies, adaptive to fire, patterns of seed dispersal by insects, as well as patterns of endemism and adaptive radiation found in the flora are of outstanding value to science.

The Cape Floral Region was inscribed in 2004 and is situated in the Western and Eastern Cape. It is a natural heritage and was the sixth site to be inscribed.

Justifications for inscriptions are:
The Cape Floral Region is considered of outstanding universal value for representing ongoing ecological and biological processes associated with the evolution of the unique funbos biome. These processes are represented generally within the Cape Floral Region and captured in the eight protected areas. Of particular scientific interest are the plant reproductive strategies including the adaptive responses to fire of the flora and the patterns of seed dispersal by insects. 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.
The Cape Floral Region is one of the richest areas for plants than for any similar sized area in the world. The number of species per genus within the region (9:1) and per family (52) are among the highest given for various species-rich regions in the world. The species density in the Cape Floral Region is also among the highest in the world. It displays the highest levels of endemism at 31, 9% and it has been identified as one of the world's 18 biodiversity hot spots.

A stretch of land and sea spanning 90 000 square kilometres, the 553 000 hectare Cape Floral Region comprises eight protected areas stretching from the Cape Peninsula to the Eastern Cape: Table Mountain, De Hoop Nature Reserve, the Boland mountain complex, the Groot Winterhoek wilderness area, the Swartberg mountains, the Boosmansbos wilderness area, the Cederberg wilderness areas and Baviaanskloof.

Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden on the slopes of Table Mountain is part of the region, making it the first botanical garden ever include in a World Heritage Site.

The rich diversity of the Cape Floral Region contributes to South Africa having the third-highest level of biodiversity in the world. Table Mountain National Park, for example, has more species in its 22 000 hectares than the British Isles or New Zealand.

The Cape Floral Region is not only remarkable for its diversity. The region's endemism level, at 31, 9%, is the highest on the planet. Of the 9600 species of vascular plants (plants with vessels for bearing sap) found here, some 70% are endemic, occurring nowhere else on earth.

It is also home to 11 000 marine animal species, 3500 of which are endemic, and 560 vertebrate species, including 142 reptile species, of which 27 are endemic. The region follows the Cape fold belt of mountains, the Cedarberg and Hottentots Holland mountains, then cuts through the Langeberg, Outeniquas, Tsitsikamma, Swartberg and Zuurberg mountains, encompassing key sections of the Cape floral kingdom, the smallest and richest of the world's six floral kingdoms - and the only one to be contained within one country.

South Africa has the third-highest level of biodiversity in the world, thanks in no small part to the Cape floral kingdom.

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