Flowering phenology

Seasonal events such as changes in temperature and day length will, typically, trigger certain responses in plants (e.g. budburst, flowering, dormancy, migration and hibernation). Severe changes in the climate can result in these responses taking place earlier or later than they would normally. In turn, this has a knock-on effect on birds and insects which have certain timed relationships with plants, resulting in an imbalance within the ecosystem. Fynbos is also a fire-sensitive biome and without fire, the outcome will be plant senescence ultimately leading to a loss of fynbos and a homogenous landscape.

The NVT’s long-term goal is to evaluate whether climate change is having an effect on plants’ flowering times and, consequently, bird and insect pollinators. Furthermore, the NVT recognises the importance of fire in sustaining this important ecosystem and is exploring potential collaboration with local authorities to put an appropriate fire management plan for the area in place.

Educational walks are also hosted for learners and the general public along the national park’s hiking trails through the fynbos. These “flower walks” are aimed at creating awareness of and promoting appreciation for this biome with a specific focus on unique plant-animal relationships as well as the medicinal value and rich traditional knowledge surrounding fynbos. To date, several educational resources have been developed for school groups and the public alike, highlighting what is discussed along these walks.