Agathosma gonaquensis has been singled out by the South African National Biodiversity Institute as one of South Africa’s growing list of critically endangered plants. It means that encroachment of human activity upon the plant’s small distribution area near and in a metropolitan area has caused dire effects and continues to do so.
We lose plants and animals continually as our human population and its per capita needs grow, while our concern for biodiversity doesn’t. Making the headlines, bringing the news in each case of this deterioration of our world, will hopefully impact positively at all levels in society.
The essential purpose of all conservation efforts, even the existence of a website like this one by Operation Wildflower, lies in generating interest, knowledge and effort. Without widespread human commitment and strong values regarding nature, all is lost. Every caring individual has worth in this quest.
A section close to the gate inside the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden displays endangered species, even ones extinct in nature. Not far from there some such plants are offered for sale, following painstaking efforts aimed at mastering the particular skills of growing them. This enables the public to offer such rare plants to pollinators in their gardens, the birds and insects that may survive better themselves if they are properly fed.
A plant extinct in nature but growing in a hundred, maybe one day a thousand gardens, does not revert the loss in nature, but contributes to safeguarding something the grandchildren might otherwise only see in books. And who knows, even the tiny chance of seed dispersal from garden blooms causing a memorable escape back into nature could happen miraculously.
Some small (and expensive) programmes of reintroducing species back into nature do occur, could become more. Friends of and participants in such ventures can achieve much, especially growing species on land where specific plants used to thrive long ago.
In the meantime, humanity might also slowly get its collective mind around the problem of the too rapid increase in the human population that will surely sink all the current conservation efforts eventually. When the root cause of biodiversity loss is ignored and escalation of the problem allowed, all initially commendable conservation efforts will gradually (or no longer so gradually) be relegated to ineffectual and cosmetic.
This is a big issue that so far has been parked in the “of academic interest” category by society at large, but particularly by governments and academia. Business and drivers of progress mock such stories, fearing harm to economic growth. But greenies are only funny or raving idiots up to a point (www.redlist.sanbi.org).