The BWI is a pioneering partnership between the South African wine
industry and the conservation sector. The goals are to minimise the
further loss of threatened natural habitat, and to contribute to
sustainable wine production, through the adoption of biodiversity
guidelines by the South African wine industry.
Cape Floral Kingdom
one of 25 hotspots in the world
click on the images above to go to their websites
What is biodiversity?
Biodiversity refers to all the genes, species, ecosystems and processes
that allow life to persist over time. When biodiversity is intact,
species and ecosystems are resilient, enabling them to adapt to
environmental changes. When biodiversity is lost, nature responds
unpredictably, making it difficult for growers to plan production and
protect natural resources.
Why a Biodiversity & Wine Initiative?
The Cape Floral Kingdom (CFK) is the smallest yet richest plant kingdom
on earth, and has earned international recognition as a global
biodiversity hotspot and as South Africa's newest World Heritage Site.
However, the CFK is under increasing threat from agriculture, urban
development and invasive alien species, with only 9% of the unique
renosterveld and lowland fynbos ecosystems remaining, and much of the
succulent karoo also under threat. Since 80% of the CFK is privately
owned, landowner participation in conservation efforts is essential.
The most effective method of reaching landowners is through the
agricultural industries that they supply.
South Africa is the world's eighth largest producer of wine,
contributing 3.5% of the global wine production. Because approximately
90% of wine production occurs within the CFK, concern is mounting that
some of the region's most vulnerable natural habitat might be targeted
for vineyard expansion. Following an initial study by the Botanical
Society of South Africa and Conservation International, the wine
industry and the conservation sector have embarked on a pioneering
partnership to conserve the rich biodiversity of the CFK.
The BWI presents a great opportunity to both the wine and conservation
sectors. The wine industry benefits from leveraging the biodiversity of
the CFK as a competitive marketing advantage, and from using the BWI as
a tool to achieve sustainable natural resource management, as
prioritised in the Wine Industry Strategy Plan. The conservation sector
benefits from pioneering biodiversity best practices in the wine
industry, and from conserving the CFK's most threatened habitats for
The BWI aims to:
Prevent further loss of habitat in critical sites
Increase the total area set aside as natural habitat in contractual protected areas
changes in farming practices that enhance the suitability of vineyards
as habitat for biodiversity, and reduce farming practices that have
negative impacts on biodiversity, both in the vineyards and in
surrounding natural habitat
marketing opportunities for the wine industry by positioning the
biodiversity of the CFK, and the industry's proactive stance on
biodiversity, as a unique selling point to differentiate Brand South
The world’s first biodiversity wine route & eco route
Images courtesy of
the Botanical Society of South Africa
The Green Mountain Eco Route, the world’s first biodiversity wine
route, incorporates the area around the Groenland Mountain with the
villages Bot River (Botrivier), Elgin Valley Grabouw, Houw Hoek and
Villiersdorp in the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom. Just one hour
from Cape Town, the route is ideally located for weekend getaways and
easily accessible via the N2 past Cape Town International Airport and
Sir Lowry’s Pass. For those travelling further to the Garden Route and
Route 62, the area makes a great first stop in the Overberg, South
Green Mountain Eco Route combines attractions including wine farms,
activities, events, accommodations, restaurants, wedding &
conference venues. It offers scenic beauty, natural diversity of terroir
and a wide range of wine styles. Whether you want to crank uphill on
your mountain bike, hike through acres of fynbos, experience a unique
wine tasting with the winemakers, or enjoy meals made from locally
grown produce, the Green Mountain Eco Route has things to do for
participating on this route include: Beaumont Wines,Eikenhof Farm,
Mofam Trust, Molteno Brothers,Oak Valley Wines & Paul Cluver Wines.
'Variety is in our Nature'
is the slogan used by Wines of South Africa (WOSA), the industry marketing body and is based on the unique biodiversity of the Cape winelands and their
relationship to terroir, as well as the diversity of the people and the
resulting individuality of the wines. It is designed to reflect the care and concerns for the environment by South African wineries, and is supported and re-enforced by the
conservation drive of the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative.
What makes this proposition so exciting is that it is based on irrefutable facts, unique to South Africa:
Over 95% of SA wine is produced within the Cape Floral Kingdom,
the smallest and richest in the world, containing over 9 600 plant
species (fynbos, renosterveld and Karoo succulents) which is more than
are found in the entire Northern hemisphere.
The soils are between 400 and 500 million years old, deposited after the Pan African event when the African, South American, Indian and Arctic continents collided.
There are two oceans encircling the winelands, generating cooling winds and fogs.
The 9 600 plant species are all adaptations to hugely varied and
nutritionally poor soils, and unique microclimates caused by the
different aspects, terrain, winds, mists, etc. These same soils and microclimates represent a treasure trove of grapegrowing and winemaking possibilities.
The people have a remarkable ethnic and cultural diversity from KhoiSan, Malaysian, Xhosa and Zulu to German, French, Dutch and more.
The Biodiversity & Wine Initiative represents a new orientation
and philosophy in the South African wine industry as producers embrace a philosophy
of sustainable farming which respects the environment, preserves what
is unique in their heritage, and nurtures respect among all the people
who work on their farms and in their cellars.
This can be seen in the number of producers who have already signed
the WOSA/hannuwa commitment (over 500 representing nearly half our
hectares under cultivation), the amount of land committed to
conservation in the first year of the programme (18 000 hectares) and
the huge interest shown by producers.
Winery support has been phenomenal, giving
this forward thinking inititiave credibility and ensuring that it becomes entrenched throughout the winelands. Most
SA producers have a deep affinity to their lands, and many have been
preserving their biodiversity for years without formal recognition of
their efforts. Now they can see a marketing benefit and tourism
potential and understand how critical their role is.
The South African Wine and Spirit Board has announced that by 2009 wines will not be exported without Integrated Wine Production
certification which includes the protection of biodiversity and rules
for sustainable farming. After all, South African wineries cannot claim biodiversity to the
world if they are not taking active steps to safeguard it.
Wine enthusiasts are interested in the soils and terroir angle of
biodiversity, other communities care about the conservation angle, and
at mass consumer level, the producers are tapping into trends which are
becoming powerful motivators for purchasing in the First World. These consumers are concerned about food scares,
allergies, industrial farming, pollution and congestion, and are
looking for products which are natural and authentic. They care about where products come from, preferring
to purchase ethically and sustainably sourced goods.
In terms of the marketing messaging, biodiversity creates a whole new visual
language, breaking the vice grip of vineyard visuals, while still
communicating authentic provenance, natural bounty and, above all,