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Location South Africa, Africa
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Keywords Countries
Authors Phil Green
Published 2014
License CC BY-SA 4.0
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South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. With over 60 million people, it is the world's 23rd-most populous nation and covers an area of 1,221,037 square kilometres (471,445 square miles). South Africa has three capital cities: executive Pretoria, judicial Bloemfontein and legislative Cape Town. The largest city is Johannesburg. About 80% of South Africans are of Black African ancestry, divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different African languages. The remaining population consists of Africa's largest communities of European (White South Africans), Asian (Indian South Africans and Chinese South Africans), and Multiracial (Coloured South Africans) ancestry.

It is bounded to the south by 2,798 kilometres (1,739 mi) of coastline of Southern Africa stretching along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the north by the neighbouring countries of Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe; and to the east and northeast by Mozambique and Eswatini (former Swaziland); and it surrounds the enclaved country of Lesotho. It is the southernmost country on the mainland of the Old World, and the most populous country located entirely south of the equator. South Africa is a biodiversity hotspot, with a diversity of unique biomes and plant and animal life.

South Africa is a multiethnic society encompassing a wide variety of cultures, languages, and religions. Its pluralistic makeup is reflected in the constitution's recognition of 11 official languages, the fourth-highest number in the world. According to the 2011 census, the two most spoken first languages are Zulu (22.7%) and Xhosa (16.0%). The two next ones are of European origin: Afrikaans (13.5%) developed from Dutch and serves as the first language of most Coloured and White South Africans; English (9.6%) reflects the legacy of British colonialism, and is commonly used in public and commercial life. The country is one of the few in Africa never to have had a coup d'état, and regular elections have been held for almost a century. However, the vast majority of black South Africans were not enfranchised until 1994.

Biodiversity[edit | edit source]

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South Africa signed the Rio Convention on Biological Diversity on 4 June 1994, and became a party to the convention on 2 November 1995. It has subsequently produced a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, which was received by the convention on 7 June 2006. The country is ranked sixth out of the world's seventeen megadiverse countries. Ecotourism in South Africa has become more prevalent in recent years, as a possible method of maintaining and improving biodiversity.

South Africa has lost a large area of natural habitat in the last four decades, primarily due to overpopulation, sprawling development patterns and deforestation during the 19th century. South Africa is one of the worst affected countries in the world when it comes to invasion by alien species with many (e.g. black wattle, Port Jackson willow, Hakea, Lantana and Jacaranda) posing a significant threat to the native biodiversity and the already scarce water resources. W

Open spaces[edit | edit source]

The protected areas of South Africa include national parks and marine protected areas managed by the national government, public nature reserves managed by provincial and local governments, and private nature reserves managed by private landowners. Most protected areas are intended for the conservation of flora and fauna. National parks are maintained by South African National Parks (SANParks). A number of national parks have been incorporated in transfrontier conservation areas.

Protected areas may also be protected for their value and importance as historical, cultural heritage or scientific sites. W

Bottom Road Sanctuary: A Post-Apartheid Community Managed Nature Sanctuary[edit | edit source]

The area around Zeekoevlei lake, in South Africa, has had extremely high concentrations of threatened native plant species. This is partly because its northern bank was used as a garbage dump for many years. Then, in 2005, the city of Cape Town rezoned the area into parcels of land to be purchased by people who suffered through the Apartheid. The residents who moved in joined forces with nature conservation officials and local environmental organizations to restore the wetland. In practice, this meant residents largely left the space open and undeveloped. Some residents have actively removed invasive species, allowing a particularly threatened plant species, the fynbos, to thrive again in its natural habitat. The Bottom Road Sanctuary now has over 50,000 native plants, attracting many kinds of wildlife. It also has walkways, benches, and barbecuing spaces for nearby residents to share. Adrien Labaeye [1]

See also Germany, Open spaces

Community involvement[edit | edit source]

The network is made up of thousands of volunteers who are coming together to form Community Action Networks or CANs. Over a 160 Community Action Networks, and growing. added 11:59, 22 February 2021 (UTC)

  • Future Cape Town "is a leading platform in Africa promoting democracy about the future of cities.

Through our online presence, research, and multi-stakeholder collaborations we work towards expanding public access to urbanism in order to promote a more visionary and inclusive city. We are an independent think-tank, advocating knowledge and citizen engagement to meet the challenges of our city. Future Cape Town is the founding partner of Our Future Cities, which also houses Future Johannesburg, Future Lagos and Future London."

Cycling activism[edit | edit source]

Bicycle Cape Town, community campaign to promote bicycle culture in Cape Town, Bike Bus, Cape Town - Bicycling Empowerment Network South Africa - Critical Mass bicycle rides in South Africa

Food activism[edit | edit source]

Solar cooking resources in South Africa

Towards sustainable economies[edit | edit source]


Bergnek Community Projects is a community development initiative that was started to empower and uplift women and youth through sustainable business ventures. The program provides access to food, clean water, and reproductive health care for women and girls in school. The long-term aim of the group is to build a community health care center. [2]

Resources[edit | edit source]

Networks and sustainability initiatives[edit | edit source]

Citizens data initiative[edit | edit source]

People’s Assembly, "aims to promote accountability and bridge the gap between ordinary people and their elected representatives."

Legal resources[edit | edit source]

Centre for Environmental Rights, non-profit company and law clinic based in Cape Town

Maps[edit | edit source]

Cape Town Green Map - Joburg green Map

Video[edit | edit source]

News and comment[edit | edit source]


We’re delighted to discover Cape Town’s CANs movement - “community action networks” that have been keeping a city together, under Covid, Feb 19 [3]


Cape Town’s water crisis shows the reality for cities on the front line of climate change, Mar 1 [4]


Victory in South Africa’s first climate change court case! Mar 8 [5]

Urban farming produces more than food: social networks are a key spinoff, Feb 9 [6]


Learn More About South Africa's First Solar-Powered 'Green Airport', Oct 10 [7]


How renewable energy in South Africa is quietly stealing a march on coal, June 1 [8]

South Africa must start managing its retreat from the coast, May 8 [9]


Johannesburg takes up the challenge of a car-free city in October 2015, October 23 [10]


2010 SEED Award Winners, [11] November 3

Resentse Sinqobile Trust Trading as Zondi BuyBack Initiative". A local NGO and government institutions have teamed up to establish this comprehensive buyback centre to recycle, reshape and sell household waste such as cans and plastic. Natural resource protection, the reduction of litter, increased employment opportunities and an educational program are among the impressive results of this initiative.

IziWasha Two social enterprises and a private company have developed this innovative hand-held laundry device to facilitate washing in low-income communities. As the appliance does not rely on electricity or a home water supply, IziWasha significantly cuts water and energy use. A network of female micro-franchisees who distribute the eco-friendly product will directly benefit from the revenues.

Reclaiming Livelihoods - Mooi River Waste Reclaiming". This initiative led by a community-based organization, an international NGO and a government department has a high impact on local waste pickers who earn an income from recycling waste. By formalising the workforce and providing shelter, protective clothes and technical equipment, attractive job opportunities are created.

Amatola Wild Trout Fishery" is the first recreational fly-fishery in South Africa owned and managed by a local community. Set up by a partnership between a NGO and a research institution, the fishery brings a high-end market tourism activity into a rural area, while focusing on skills training and job creation for local people and environmental improvement by sustaining water quality and wild trout populations.

Food & Trees for Africa is a social enterprise addressing the greening of urban areas, climate change and food insecurity by planting trees. Launched by a local and international NGO, government institutions and private businesses, FTFA offers skills training in natural resource management and develops organic permaculture gardens for impoverished communities. The project has also designed a carbon calculator.

"Claire Reid Reel Gardening" provides consumers with a pre-fertilised seed strip that encases seeds at the correct depth and distance apart and offers planting instructions in seven languages. Implemented by a youth organization with assistance from government and social development programmes, the initiative aims to create sustainable subsistence gardens throughout South Africa.

Global Climate Network launches drive for low-carbon economy in South Africa, [12] January 27


2009 SEED Award Winners: South Africa, Namibia and Botswana: "Biocultural protocols - community approaches to Access and Benefit Sharing". Civil society organizations have mobilized efforts to develop bio-cultural protocols with different local indigenous communities which will help to provide a model whereby local communities can share the benefits if local resources and expertise are developed for market purposes. [13] May 12


External links[edit | edit source]

  • Wikipedia: South Africa
  • Earthlife Africa, South African environmental and anti-nuclear organisation founded in August 1988, in Johannesburg. Initially conceived of as a South African version of Greenpeace, the group began by playing a radical, anti-apartheid, activist role. ELA is arguably now more of a reformist lobby or pressure group. Considered by some to be a key voice in the emerging environmental justice movement, Earthlife Africa has been criticised for being too radical, and by others for "working with traditional conservation movements" in furthering the environmental struggle. W

References[edit | edit source]