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Climate change threatening Namaqualand daisy and the tourism it brings - study

20 January 2022 10:14 AM
Tags:
Climate change
research
Namaqualand daisy
Jennifer Fitchett

Afternoon Drive host John Maytham chats to researcher Jennifer Fitchett.
  • Climate change is having an impact on the flowering of the Namaqualand daisies, according to a new study
  • Thousands of visitors travel to enjoy the annual flower display stretching from the Cape west coast up to Namaqualand
  • Researcher Jennifer Fitchett says the annual bloom is becoming more unpredictable which could impact the flowering event and the tourism economy in the Namaqualand region

Image copyright: EcoSnap/123rf.com

New research has emerged suggesting that climate change is altering the seasonal cycle of the Namaqualand daisy.

A study of phenological data spanning over the past 80 years has shown that the flowering season is starting in late winter instead of spring.

Researcher Jennifer Fitchett says the effects of climate change on Namaqualand daisies could have a negative impact on the flowering event and the tourism it generates.

According to Fitchett, the shifts in the timing of flowering of Namaqualand daisies means that the annual bloom will become much harder to predict.

"That really poses a challenge to tourists in knowing when to go and look at the flowers and of course to the tourism sectors of these small towns across Namaqualand region", she tells CapeTalk.

In the short term, the problem is that you wouldn't know which to two weeks to set aside because not only is the timing of the flowering advancing by about 2.1 to 2.6 days per decade but the timing is also becoming increasingly variable.

Jennifer Fitchett, Associate Professor of Physical Geography - University of the Witwatersrand

In the longer term, it means that we are really looking at a serious threat to these flowers. They are wildflowers so we're not able to manage them in quite such an anthropogenic way as we do with our agricultural plants.

Jennifer Fitchett, Associate Professor of Physical Geography - University of the Witwatersrand

As they start to advance earlier and earlier in the year, it has an implication in terms of frost to these flowers as well as the risk to the strength of these flowers because we are reducing the duration of the dormancy period.

Jennifer Fitchett, Associate Professor of Physical Geography - University of the Witwatersrand



20 January 2022 10:14 AM
Tags:
Climate change
research
Namaqualand daisy
Jennifer Fitchett

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