Promoting healthy ecosystems to build resilience to climate change


SANBI Launches Beehive

On 30, the South Africa National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) unveiled the Living Beehive at the Durban Botanic Gardens. This 17m in diameter and 9m high art installation has been designed to showcase South Africa's rich blend of natural, cultural and mineral wealth at the UNFCCC Conference of Parties 17 (COP 17).

Drawing on the traditional architecture of Zulu Beehive huts, the Living Beehive is built under the theme “Healthy Ecosystems as Solution to Climate Change” showcasing people, engineering and biodiversity working together. The Living Beehive is built with high technology steel frames, covered with a living roof and walls which represent the importance of healthy ecosystems, and are populated with indigenous grasses, forbs and bulbs typical of the rolling hills of the grasslands in KwaZulu-Natal. Such grasslands provide grazing for cattle, habitat for medicinal plants, prevent soil erosion and ensure clean water provisioning for South Africa's major urban centres and the millions of people who inhabit them.

The beehive also signifies the importance of healthy ecosystems. While engineering solutions have provided us with great improvements in development and human well-being, they alone are unlikely to help us deal with climate change. Healthy intact ecosystems - dependent on our rich biodiversity - also play an important role. They provide society with food, water, grazing and biomass - an important source of energy and building material. Ecosystems such as wetlands, grassy mountain catchments, forests and mangroves also store carbon (providing the most cost effective means of reducing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere), prevent siltation and flooding downstream and help reduce the impacts of extreme weather events and sea surges.

The Beehive is a joint project funded by the Department of Environmental Affairs and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation and implemented by the South African National Biodiversity Institute, eThekwini Municipality and the Durban Botanic Gardens Trust. It will remain in the Garden as a legacy of COP17.

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Posted: 12/5/2011 (8:16:02 AM)

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