A South African-led team has won a UN conservation award for its near-real time monitoring of the Cape’s unique fynbos. The Cape Floristic Region is the smallest of the globe’s six floral biomes, with very high biodiversity. According to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, a fifth of Africa’s flora are contained in this landscape, which takes up less than 1% of the continent’s land area. But this region, parts of which form a UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation world heritage site, is under threat from drought, increased fires and invasive species. "By detecting potential threats to the ecosystem in near-real time, our tool can inform the responses of conservation authorities, citizen scientists and policy makers while simultaneously collecting data for long-term ecological research," says Jasper Slingsby, a biodiversity scientist at the South African Environmental Observation Network who headed the project. The tool — called Emma (ecosystem mo...

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