Natural areas in the Cape Town lowlands are small and fragmented.The Biodiversity Network

In Module 4 we saw that most of the natural areas remaining in the lowlands of Cape Town are small and fragmented. We also learned that it is difficult to conserve nature when natural areas are small and isolated. Can you list some of the reasons why fragmentation is a problem?

To address the problem of fragmentation the City of Cape Town is creating a Biodiversity Network.








Concept Check: What is a network?

Can you explain what a network is? Who is part of your network of friends? Do you use the Internet (an electronic information network)? Does someone in your family have a cellular phone that connects them to one of South Africa’s mobile phone networks?

Talk about this with a partner, then click on "What is a network?" and compare your definition with ours:








Biodiversity Network of the
City of Cape Town
on the icon to enlarge)
What is the City’s Biodiversity Network?
  • Cape Town’s Biodiversity Network is a plan to conserve nature more effectively in the City.

  • The network identifies the remaining natural areas that must be conserved in order to protect urban Nature. It also shows corridors connecting these fragmented natural areas.

  • Plants and animals need these corridors so that they can move between natural areas to breed or if they are threatened by drought or fire.

  • In the Biodiversity Network, the nodes are important natural areas. These could be:

    • Large protected areas, e.g. Table Mountain National Park or Blaauwberg Conservation Area;

    • Clusters of small natural areas that may not all be nature reserves, e.g. the False Bay Ecology Park, which is made up of nature reserves, a waste water treatment works, a landfill site and coastal dunes.








  • These nodes are connected by “corridors” or “stepping stones”:

    • Corridors don’t have to be protected areas surrounded by fences. They may be beaches where we swim, rivers that flow through our neighbourhoods, or land under power lines. These corridors allow animals and plants to move from one nature reserve to another.

    • A stepping stone could be a sports field, school or even a private home. If you plant indigenous plants in your garden, you will help birds, insects and other small animals like chameleons, skinks and toads to find food and shelter as they move from one natural area to another. Many of these animals carry pollen and seeds so they also help to move plants from place to place.

  • Ecologists working for the City of Cape Town identified 477 sites to include in the Biodiversity Network. These sites include state and private nature reserves, rivers, wetlands, public open spaces and even road verges. Only 108 of these sites are already within protected areas.

  • In addition to protecting nature in the city, the Biodiversity Network will also provide people with green spaces close to their homes for recreation and education.








Provide “biodiversity-friendly” space, food, shelter and protection for indigenous plants and animals at your home.Conservation Challenge

You and your family or school can help to strengthen the City of Cape Town’s Biodiversity Network by making your garden a “stepping stone” in the network. To be part of the network, your home or school should be “biodiversity-friendly”, providing space, food, shelter and protection for indigenous plants and animals.

See if you are biodiversity-friendly by taking the Conservation Challenge.

Be part of the Network

Cape Town has too few nature reserves to conserve all its threatened plants and animals. Even the Biodiversity Network identifies only the minimum number of sites needed to conserve Nature in the city. But if we all get involved and make our school grounds, home gardens and road verges more biodiversity-friendly, we can help to conserve Nature where we live. Then we can all help to make the City’s Biodiversity Network a success.








Policies and plans to protect the environment

One of the human rights listed in South Africa’s Bill of Rights is the right to a healthy and protected environment. The City of Cape Town is making sure that we can enjoy a healthy environment by developing environmental policies and action plans. These include the:

  • Integrated Metropolitan Environmental Policy (IMEP, 2001)

  • Integrated Development Plan (IDP), published annually

  • Air Quality Management Plan (2005)

  • Biodiversity Strategy (2003)

  • Catchment, Stormwater and River Management Strategy (2002)

  • Coastal Zone Management Strategy (2003)

  • Draft Energy and Climate Change Strategy (2005)

  • Integrated Waste Management Policy (2006)

  • Ten-point Water Demand Management Plan

Every year the City reports on how well it is achieving its environmental goals in a Sustainability Report.  You can download these documents from the City of Cape Town’s website:








Find out about Cape Town’s Biodiversity Network 

This is an activity!Select sites in the City of Cape Town’s Biodiversity Network. In small groups, research these sites and prepare a presentation to inform the class about your site:

  • Where is it and how large is it?

  • What ecosystems does it protect?

  • How does the site benefit people?

  • What threatened plants or animals does the area protect?

  • Is the site a nature reserve?

  • Who looks after the site?

  • What factors threaten the site?

  • What could you or your school do to help?








Click the buttons to find out more about conserving urban nature in Cape Town


  The City of Cape Town's Nature Reserves
  Conservation Partners
  What about Me?