21 December 2011 by Robyn Campbell

The Biodiversity and Wine Initiative - conservation in every glass

Have you ever tasted a World Heritage Site? Before you assume I’ve gone off my cork, let me enlighten you. Because every time you sip a Cape wine - you drink a drop of the Cape Floral Kingdom (CFK) World Heritage Site.

The Cape Floral Kingdom (CFK); recognised as a World Heritage Site, is one of the richest and most diverse plant areas (compared to any similar sized area) in the world. Made up of eight protected areas, the CFK is a global biodiversity hotspot of exceptional cultural, ecological and scientific value. Approximately 70% of the CFK’s 9000 plant species are found nowhere else on Earth.

Increasingly fragile and threatened, the CFK is also home to nearly 95% of South Africa’s vineyards! As such, the CFK represents the natural heritage of the Cape Winelands and embodies the terroir of Cape wines. If we’re to keep sipping and savouring the Cape’s wonderful wines it’s crucial to conserve the unique-in-the-world habitat.

Enter the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative, a conservation partnership between the South African wine industry and the South African Botanical Society, Conservation International (WWF) and the Green Trust started in 2004.

The BWI encourages Cape wine producers to farm in a way that protects and conserves highly threatened natural areas and to adopt sustainable farming practices to ensure functioning, healthy and natural ecosystems.

As present, the total area conserved by BWI producers is 130633.40 hectares, making the wine industry’s conservation footprint larger than its current vineyard footprint of 102 000 hectares. Simply put, for every hectare under vineyard, an additional hectare of natural vegetation is committed to conservation. Now that’s worth raising a glass to!

BWI members total 176 and BWI Champions (wine farms that have committed more than 10% of their farms to conservation) total 23. Every member wine farm represents a major achievement for our wine industry and the conservation sector.

As wine lovers, the Biodiversity & Wine Initiative is something we should all be passionate about. To find out more about the BWI visit their website.

Source: Biodiversity and Wine Initiative website. Note: Image is an edited version of the official BWI logo.


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