Fynbos Ecology Report

The WCC schools 2023 expo circuit continued with lessons on fynbos ecology at Gansbaai Primêr. A total of 70 Grade 6 learners came to find out more. The learners visited each of the 5 demonstrations in groups of 7.

Kathie explained what we mean by biodiversity and that the wide variety of species provides ecological resilience against environmental catastrophes like climate change. On South Africa’s coat of arms is the saying: “Diverse people unite”. In the group attending the tutorial, we looked at how we are different. Then we looked at our environment and how we all have to adapt to adversity e.g. load shedding and when it is very hot. We all learn to adapt and cope in different ways and we try to help each other.

Then we looked at Fynbos and talked about the hot, windy dry summers and how the plants adapt. Proteas have thick, waxy leaves, Ericas have small, dry curled leaves, Restios have no leaves and geophytes form bulbs which hide underground in summer. Then we looked at diversity and adaptation in plants such as Roridula and how it lives symbiotically with the Pameridea beetle and how tourists come to see this miracle of symbiosis. Then we looked at the dung beetle and the amazing adaptations to clear the area of dung and thus reduce Page 2 of 2 the number of flies. So we see that biodiversity or life variations makes it possible for life on earth.

Anina Lee with grade 6 learners

Anina Lee explained how all our food, both vegetable and animal, comes from the energy of the sun in a process called photosynthesis. Photosynthesis occurs in green leaves (containing chlorophyll) and makes glucose and oxygen from carbon dioxide and water.
This process is critical to the survival of nearly all life on earth, as it is the primary source of the oxygen that is necessary for the respiration of animals and other organisms.

Shirley Mgoboza with grade 6 learners

Shirley Mgoboza started by explaining the causes of global warming and how it changes weather patterns: hot and dry summers and how plants are affected by the changing weather.

She then discussed the scourge of alien invasive plants (APIs) in the fynbos. These AIPs are the main threat to fynbos biodiversity and ecosystem services provided by fynbos. Shirley showed examples of AIPs and discussed how to remove them.

Stephanie Vegter with grade 6 learners

Board member  Stephanie Vegter put up an amazing display demonstrating pollination of flowers and their pollinators, complete with pollen grains on the flower anthers and on the bee. She explained that pollination is the process by which pollen grains from the male part of a flower (anther) are transferred to the female part of another flower (stigma), leading to fertilization and the production of seeds. This essential process enables the reproduction of flowering plants and is vital for the production of many fruits, vegetables, and nuts.

Pollination can be achieved by various means, including wind, water, and insects such as bees, butterflies, and beetles. The transfer of pollen can occur within a single flower or between flowers on the same plant or between different plants. Pollination plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy ecosystems and providing food for both humans and animals.


We are most grateful to the AVI Community Trust for sponsoring this schools education programme.