In 2006, Elim Ferricrete Fynbos was listed as Endangered. Now, 14 years later, CapeNature considers it Critically Endangered.

Elim Ferricrete Fynbos used to cover extensive areas from the Bot River Valley to Hemel and Aarde, and down to Baardskeerdersbos, with the majority found around Elim in the Agulhas Plain.

But of the 66,500 hectares of Elim Ferricrete Fynbos that you could have seen in the past, only some 17,000 hectares remains today, according to CapeNature. The biggest threat? Invasive alien plants, incorrect fire regimes, habitat degradation and crucially, agricultural expansion.

 

One stretch of Elim Ferricrete Fynbos is considered vital to reach conservation targets.

 

It’s around the town of Elim – including the Geelkop Nature Reserve (a small 450-hectare reserve, aptly named thanks to the yellow flowering carpet that often covers the hilltop).

Many endemic species are found in this Elim Ferricrete Fynbos. Here are some of the notable taxa that make this vegetation type so unique:

Leucadendron laxum (Endangered): 

Known as the Bredasdorp Conebush, its population has decreased by more than half over the past 60 years. Today only small sub-populations remain, and declines continue.

Leucadendron elimense subsp. elimense (Endangered): 

The Elim Conebush is found around the Bredasdorp area. It’s affected by agriculture, invasive alien plants and overgrazing.

Protea pudens (Endangered):

The Bashful Sugarbush is affected by habitat loss, fire-related population fluctuations and expanding agriculture.

Leucospermum heterophyllum (Endangered): 

It’s known as the Trident Pincushion. It’s found between Elim and De Hoop, but the population continues to decline.

Many endemic species are found in this Elim Ferricrete Fynbos. Here are some of the notable taxa that make this vegetation type so unique:

Aulax umbellata (Near Threatened): 

It’s estimated that nearly a third of this species’ population has been lost already. And that a further 50% is at risk over the next 6 years as a result of land transformation and climate change.

Erica regia subsp regia (Endangered): 

Only small, fragmented subpopulations remain. This species is threatened by road construction, agriculture and invasive plants.

Leucadendron linifolium (Vulnerable):

The Bashful Sugarbush is affected by habitat loss, fire-related population fluctuations and expanding agriculture.

Mimetes cucullatus (Least Concern): 

The Common Pagoda or ‘Rooistompie’ enjoys a stable population trend.

Serruria fasciflora (Near Threatened):

The Common Pin Spiderhead occurs from Malmesbury to Tsitsikamma. Even so, it’s threatened by land transformation and climate change – with population losses of up to 30% considered likely by 2025.

Protea repens (Least Concern): 

This Protea is well known in the cut flower industry, in particular the dried flower market. It’s known by a variety of names, including Common Sugarbush, Sugar Protea or ‘Suikerkan’. It has a stable population.

The Action

It requires a collective effort to protect the Elim Ferricrete Fynbos remnants. The Nuwejaars Wetlands Special Management Area works with important partners like the Grootbos Foundation, CapeNature and the Elim community. Together we’ve formed the Elim Environmental Advisory Committee, and together we protect this fynbos, while supporting sustainable livelihoods.

(This information was sourced from the SANBI RedList.)
Image credit: LoveGreen Communications.