Environment Field Note

Environment Field Note


Welcome to Cape Town, South Africa also known as the Rainbow Nation. This place is home to such a diversity of environments! From the very famous Table Mountain to the booming farming industry, South Africa is truly an interesting place to live. I would like for you to accompany me in this exploration of the environments of Cape Town and other parts of South Africa!

Introduction – How are people connected to the environment?

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At the top of Table Mountain
Photo taken by Akirah Crawford

South Africa’s diverse geography includes deserts, savannahs, rainforests and mountain regions, such as Table Mountain, Soutpansberg and Maluti mountains[1].

For the purpose of this Field Note, I will focus on Table Mountain. The history of this mountain is very important to learn! The development of the city of Cape Town started with Table Mountain. The rain that falls on this mountain creates streams and very rich soil. These things were very attractive to people who settled in the area long ago.

In comparison to other mountains in the world, Ta     ble Mountain is six times older than the Himalayan Mountains and five times older than the Rocky Mountains[2]. Do you know where the Himalayan Mountains are located? Can you point on a map to the states where the Rocky Mountains are located? If not, I challenge you to do some research and find out! Like South Africa, the United States also has beautiful mountains!

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Dassie found on Table Mountain
Photo taken by Akirah Crawford

What makes this environment special or different?

What makes Table Mountain such a special place is the rare vegetation and mammals that can be found there. The most common animal you will find on Table Mountain is called the Rock Hyrax, also known as the dassie[3]. A dassie resembles a ground hog in appearance. Over spring break this semester I was able to spot of few of them!

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Red Hot Poker flower found in Kirstenbosch Gardens
Photo taken by Akirah Crawford

The main vegetation found on Table Mountain have names like endangered Peninsula Shale Fynbos, Peninsula Granite Fynbos, Peninsula Shale Renosterveld and Afromontane Forest[4]. Cam you try to pronounce some of these scientific names? Fynbos is an Afrikaans word for ‘fine bush. Fynbos are a type of vegetation that can be found around here. There are mostly rough shrubs and no tress. Kirstenbosch Gardens located near Cape Town is a place where you can see fynbos. Many tourists visit these Gardens!

What parts of this environment help people to live here?

People who live away from cities in rural parts of South Africa mostly farm. Because South Africa is located between the equator and the Antarctic Ocean, it has a temperate climate and is great for farming in regions where there is rainfall.

The major farming regions of South Africa are found in the Western Cape valleys[5]. The main crops grown in South Africa are corn, wheat, sugarcane and fruits including grapes, apples and citrus fruits (lemons, oranges, etc). Wine is South Africa’s most profitable export.

What challenges do people face living in this environment?

Some challenges that people face living in this environment is overcrowding, lack of job opportunities and poverty. Even though South Africa has the largest economy on the continent, a quarter of its people live on less than a dollar each day[6]. Over two million people in South Africa are living in shacks or are homeless.

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Township of Khayelitsha
Photo from: http://www.timeslive.co.za

Many people move from the Western Cape to Cape Town in search of job opportunities. Informal houses are being built everyday by people who do not have proper housing. These informal homes make up many of the townships here in Cape Town, including Khayelitsha which is the largest township in Cape Town.

How have people been adapting to this environment?

To help out with many of the challenges mentioned above, the South African government has created many policies. An example of a policy put into place to address the housing crisis is the Reconstructive and Development Plan. Under this plan homes are being built by the government for the poor.

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