World Soil Day, on 5 December, is an annual campaign aimed at raising awareness about the vital connection between soil and water, emphasising their significance in supporting food production, ecosystems, and human well-being.

Soil plays a crucial role on our planet, providing various services essential for life. These services directly impact human well-being by offering fertile conditions for growing diverse food sources, including plants and animals, and providing opportunities for recreation and education. Soil’s ecosystem services include serving as a habitat for various organisms, regulating floods, cycling nutrients, controlling climate, sequestering carbon, and purifying water.

Variations in soil can affect the types of vegetation found worldwide, even within the relatively small area of Cape Town. In the city, six critically endangered vegetation types occur, namely, Peninsula Shale Renosterveld, Peninsula Granite Fynbos, Peninsula Sandstone Fynbos, Lourensford Alluvium Fynbos, Cape Flats Dune Strandveld, and Cape Flats Sand Fynbos.

Nature Connect manages two sites in Cape Town characterised by Cape Flats Sand Fynbos, namely Milnerton Racecourse Conservation Area and Kenilworth Racecourse Conservation Area. This vegetation type thrives in areas with acid soils that are old and leached of seashells and nutrients. However, it faces threats from urbanisation, invasive alien plants, and fire protection measures that disrupt natural burning cycles. These threats not only impact the sandy soils of the critically endangered Cape Flats Sand Fynbos, but globally they pose a risk to soils by disrupting their natural state.

On World Soil Day, we urge you to raise awareness about the significance of soil and to recognise the challenges it faces. Consider participating in community initiatives that promote awareness of sustainable living, aiming to minimise our impact on the soil in the environments that surrounds us. Also be sure to report illegal mining of soil to the relevant authorities. Let’s keep our natural ecosystems intact!