Did you know? Table Mountain forms part of a World Heritage Site

Table Mountain National Park is a World Heritage Site

Table Mountain National Park, which stretches from the City of Cape Town to Cape Point at the southern tip of the Cape peninsula, is one of the core sites that comprise the Cape Floral Region Protected Areas World Heritage Site. It was inscribed into the list of (UNESCO) World Heritage Sites in 2004. And forms part of the Cape Floral Kingdom, a vast area of shrubland dominated by fynbos (meaning “fine bush” in Afrikaans, one of South Africa’s 11 official languages), centred around South Africa’s Western Cape Province and extending eastward into the Eastern Cape Province and, minimally, into the Northern Cape Province. It is the smallest and richest of the world’s six floral kingdoms and the only one to be completely contained within one country.

What is interesting and sometimes confusing, however, is that the original World Heritage Site inscription did not refer to the entire Cape Floral Kingdom, but to eight separate but representative sites (comprising an area of about 553 000 hectares) chosen for that honour.

Why not just have one, continuous area, like most World Heritage Sites? Well, while all of the Cape Floral Kingdom is special in some way, much of the region is no longer in its natural state. It was therefore not possible to award World Heritage status to the whole region since it contains significant areas of agriculture and urbanisation — hardly pristine flowers! And because the Cape Floral Kingdom is such a big area, stretching from the winter rainfall areas of the south-western Cape through transitional areas to the arid Karoo, it was impossible to find one area where all the unique, precious floral species found in the kingdom are concentrated.

So the solution was eight protected areas, each representing different habitats, and between them providing the pieces of the complex Cape Floral Kingdom jigsaw. It is the series of these eight sites that has such universal value and not the individual components. To quote Guy Palmer of CapeNature Scientific Services, who co-ordinated the selection of the areas and the compilation and submission to UNESCO, the Cape Floral Region World Heritage Site is “an evolutionary treasure chest, which, as a result of relatively stable conditions over millions of years, has managed to retain the gems of natural selection.”

In July 2015 the size of the Cape Floral Region World Heritage Site was extended to 1 094 742 hectares and the number of protected area clusters increased from eight to 13. Twelve of these protected areas are in the Western Cape with one, the Baviaanskloof Complex, in the Eastern Cape.

Join the world’s biggest running event, every Saturday

Whether you are looking for a regular time trial in Cape Town or simply want to take part in a fun run with family and friends, parkrun — the biggest running event in the world — has you covered, says South African running legend and multiple Comrades Marathon winner Bruce Fordyce.

Serious South African runners do time trials in the build-up to races such as the Comrades Marathon to test how their fitness is going. When a South African called Paul Sinton-Hewitt emigrated to the United Kingdom, he discovered that they didn’t seem to have that concept there, so he started parkrun as a time trial for a few dedicated runners. It bore little resemblance to what it is now.

Paul — who was awarded a CBE by the Queen for his contribution to world health — and I are old mates, so once it started going well I brought it to South Africa. We started with one parkrun in Johannesburg, in Delta Park, in 2011 — and 26 people came along. Four years later, we have 69 parkruns around South Africa each week.

It’s the biggest running event in the world — 100 000 people around the world do parkrun every single Saturday. In South Africa, about 20 000 people run at 69 different venues around the country every Saturday. We put on an event that is bigger than the Comrades Marathon or the Two Oceans Marathon — and they do it once a year. We do it 52 times a year… and it’s free!

I think that the volunteer spirit is the most amazing part of parkrun. We thought it would never happen in South Africa where everyone wants to get paid, but people give up their time to come along and do the marshalling, timing and general jobs that need to be done at a parkrun for no payment whatsoever. There’s a massive volunteer spirit and most runners will, at some stage or another, give up a run and volunteer instead.

We will never charge a fee. That’s the magic of parkrun. Obviously, we are only able to do it for free because of the sponsors and the volunteers. It is about health and wellness, but it i’s also about community spirit and community development. People cannot wait to see each other on a Saturday morning.

In Cape Town we host parkruns in Green Point, Big Bay, Fish Hoek, at Rondebosch Common, Constantia Green Belt and in Stellenbosch. In 2016, we will introduce parkruns in Muizenberg, Khayelitsha, Century City and Paarl.

The only thing we ask people to do is register on the website. Once you’ve registered, you print a little barcode, which is your passport to do a parkrun anywhere in the world. You only have to register once. You can choose your home run, but that doesn’t mean that you have to run at your home run every Saturday. The passport gets scanned as you cross the finish line, and you get sent your results that afternoon or, worst case scenario, the next day. You accumulate parkruns and when you hit certain milestones — say 50 runs — you get a magnificent t-shirt.