Conservation and wine | WWF South Africa

	© Tielman Roos Jr

Conservation and wine

With 95% of wine growing taking place in the unique habitat of the Cape winelands, WWF participates in a pioneering partnership between the South African wine industry and the conservation sector.
To promote awareness and participation in driving conservation-minded farming practices, the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative (BWI) was established in 2004 using a voluntary membership model. It has since received international recognition for the South African wine industry as leaders of the global wine sector in demonstrating the balance between nature and farming.

The Biodiversity and Wine Initiative focused on:

1. Minimising the loss of threatened natural habitat in the Cape winelands;
2. Increasing the total area of well-managed natural habitat set aside in contractually protected areas;
3. Promoting changes in farming practices that enhance the suitability of vineyards for biodiversity and reducing farming practices and their impact on biodiversity, both in vineyards and surrounding natural areas;
4. Positioning the biodiversity of the Succulent Karoo and Cape Floral Kingdom – and industry’s proactive stance to environmental sustainability and conservation – as a unique selling point.

Between 2005 and 2015, 10 years of free advisory support and guidance was provided by the WWF extension team to BWI Members, Champions and Producer Cellars. This laid a strong foundation of wine farms implementing biodiversity-friendly farming practices. One third of the wine industry now has environmental management plans in place, co-developed with WWF, together with training to deliver on these guidelines.

These landowners are also fully aware of their vital role in conserving the biodiversity hotspots of the Succulent Karoo and Cape Floral Kingdom and are committed to being custodians of the land – collectively representing over 140,000 hectares of conservation-worthy land. Many of them are now catalysing their actions beyond their farm gates and implementing regional working groups, or conservancies, to address shared environmental risks and opportunities.

WWF has responded to this growing need to address increasing landscape and catchment-scale challenges in the Cape winelands. From 2016, WWF’s extension team will focus on expanding relationships with the environmental industry leaders – now known as WWF Conservation Champions – to support them in their long-term conservation commitments, as well as spearheading innovations in water, energy efficiency and climate adaptation. Based on rigorous environmental criteria, WWF welcomes new Conservation Champion applications.

Many of these Conservation Champions promote their biodiversity stories, and the progress made from their environmental management plans, to support their entries into wine competitions such as the annual Nedbank Green Wine Awards. Conservation stories continue to be a key tool for market differentiation and many farms are actively telling their stories through their own marketing channels as well as through the ‘Integrity & Sustainability’ seal from industry body, Sustainable Wines South Africa. For those who have attained WWF’s Conservation Champion status, they can use the striking logo of the sugarbird on the protea on their wine bottles. Consumers can look out for this label which encapsulates the symbiosis of nature and acknowledges these producers as environmental industry leaders.
Consumers can look out for this label that acknowledges WWF's Conservation Champions as environmental industry leaders.


Download the Sustainable Wine Pocket Guide to make your next wine purchase count for conservation.

The Wine Kingdom

To mark a decade of conservation in the Cape winelands and the dawn of the WWF Conservation Champions, the history of the BWI will remain immortalised in the pages of a 192-page hard cover coffee table book titled: The Wine Kingdom: Celebrating conservation in the Cape winelands. It captures wonderful stories of many BWI Members told through storytelling and beautiful imagery!
Order via the WWF Shop
The Wine Kingdom is a new book celebrating our conservation work in the Cape winelands.

Cape Floral Kingdom

  • One of only six floral kingdoms in the world, the Cape Floral Kingdom has the highest concentration of plant species in relation to its size 
  • In terms of biodiversity, it is one of the ‘hottest hotspots'
  • Over 9,500 species recorded, 70% found nowhere else in the world
  • Only 9% of the Cape Floral Kingdom is formally protected
	© Almen
Jewels of the Cape Floral Kingdom
© Almen

The story of the sugarbird

Sugarbirds occur only in the Cape Floral Kingdom, feeding mostly on the nectar of flowering proteas. These special birds need mature proteas and they play a crucial role in pollinating the indigenous flowers. As proteas become more restricted due to habitat loss, so the sugarbirds’ existence is affected. Hence the sugarbird and protea are an excellent indicator of a healthy Cape Floral Kingdom, and strongly symbolise the interdependencies within our natural systems.
	© Martin Harvey
The iconic Cape sugarbird as featured on the Conservation Champion label.
© Martin Harvey