A Z-CARD spreads the word for the Flower Valley Conservation Trust

Flower ValleyFlower Valley Conservation Trust, a non-profit organisation established in 1999, has had a credit card-sized Z-CARD produced specifically for landowners and fynbos harvesters, to introduce them to its Sustainable Harvesting Programme and to provide a greater understanding of the advantages of caring for a fynbos landscape – not only for the fynbos itself, but also for those whose livelihoods depend on fynbos harvesting.

The Trust, based on Flower Valley Farm just outside Gansbaai in the Western Cape, received renewed support for its Sustainable Harvesting Programme from the European Union and the WWF Nedbank Green Trust in 2013. The donors provided support for the creation of information and training materials and the Z-CARD forms a key part of this.

“We selected a Z-CARD because we felt it was the perfect tool to introduce the Sustainable Harvesting Programme to a land-user audience as it’s small, easy to handle, and easy to read,” says Heather D’Alton, Communications Manager: Flower Valley Conservation Trust.

The Z-CARD is being used as a support medium to other traditional media platforms. If a landowner or user needs to know more after reading the Z-CARD they can access other printed information, in which some of the more science-based information has been included.

“We are also using the card in conjunction with our digital platforms. In fact, we so liked the look and feel of the Z-CARD that we’re now reworking our website to match it. This is a work in progress. The card will also be included on all of our other digital platforms,” says D’Alton.

“The Z-CARD supports our work to secure our fynbos heritage, by facilitating good fynbos landscape management,” says Lesley Richardson, the Executive Director: Flower Valley Conservation Trust, who explains that fynbos faces many threats, from invasive alien plant species to wildfires, land transformation and, in some instances, over-harvesting. Many species have already been lost forever.

To address this, the Trust promotes the responsible picking of fynbos and encourages the informed buying of fynbos bouquets. It works with landowners and fynbos suppliers across the Agulhas Plain and beyond, as part of its Sustainable Harvesting Programme, providing support and training to harvest fynbos responsibly.

It also facilitates the clearing of invasive alien plants across the Agulhas Plain (clearing around 30,000 hectares per year via a project that’s creating around 250 jobs); ensures that the message of caring for our natural environment is instilled from a young age by co-ordinating an early childhood development programme with strong environmental education themes in the Gansbaai region, which reaches around 120 children and 18 practitioners; and hosts an Early Learning Centre on Flower Valley Farm, for children aged two to six.

The Z-CARDs are being handed out to those working on the fynbos landscapes, when the Trust meets them, particularly at land user group gatherings. It works with land users through farmers’ associations, conservancies, fire protection associations and the like, which is its current focus area.

“Feedback has been extremely positive, from all of our stakeholders. Not only is the Z-CARD format perfect for our target market – as it can be slotted into a wallet, purse or pocket and is therefore not thrown away like many traditional materials – but the layout of the card is striking,” says D’Alton.

“It has been a great way to simplify the Sustainable Harvesting Programme – a complex programme based on quite heavy science – into an easy-to-understand, short and accessible format for key stakeholders,” she adds.

Due the excitement generated around the Z-CARD the Trust is in the process of developing another one – this time for a more consumer audience. “There are many fynbos species that should ideally not be picked and many others that should be monitored if they are picked,” says Richardson.

To capture this information, the Sustainable Harvesting Programme developed a Vulnerability Index for the Agulhas Plain region. “We are now in the process of simplifying the index so that consumers will be able to use their Z-CARD to make sure that species included in their fynbos bouquet can safely be picked without damaging the fynbos landscape.”