South Africa’s biomes (go to Biomes map)
Fynbos covers only about 6.7% of South Africa (about 85 000 km2) but has the largest number of plant species of any biome in the country (about 7500).
Most Fynbos is found along the coast and in the Cape Fold Mountains between Nieuwoudtville in the north-west and Port Elizabeth in the east. Most of this region has cool wet winters and hot dry summers. Fynbos vegetation is flammable and requires occasional fires in order to regenerate. The Fynbos Biome includes both Fynbos and Renosterveld vegetation. Fynbos tends to grow on poor soil and is extremely rich in plant species. Renosterveld grows on richer soil and can support more animals.
Fynbos plants include proteas, ericas and restios, as well as many other groups of plants, like geophytes, daisies, legumes and vygies. Many of the plants are shrubs with small, hard leaves. There are very few trees or grasses in Fynbos. Animals include small buck like Grysbok and Steenbok, the Bontebok, Leopard, Chacma Baboon, Porcupine, tortoises and nectar- and seed-eating birds.
Many people in this biome are employed to harvest Fynbos plants. These include wildflowers, buchu for medicine and flavouring, restios for thatching, and rooibos tea. Most of the Renosterveld has been ploughed up to plant crops suited to a Mediterranean climate, e.g. wheat, grapes and olives.
To find out more about how the Fynbos Biome is being conserved, go to the website of the C.A.P.E. programme.