The South African and German Governments have joined together in celebrating the Year of Science through providing funding for joint science events. One such event is the Symposium on Proteaceae held at the Fynbos Forum in Cape St Francis. The Fynbos Forum is an annual conference that brings together researchers, academics, students, conservationists, environmental managers, educationists and other parties interested in the biodiversity and conservation of the unique Fynbos region.
Proteaceous shrubs are a symbol of Fynbos. The Proteaceae family serves as a flagship for Fynbos conservation, plays a key role in Fynbos ecosystems, and generates substantial economic value through wildflower harvesting. These multiple interests in Fynbos Proteaceae led volunteers, conservation managers and scientists to collect a wealth of data on the geographical distribution, life history, and phylogenetic relatedness of this group. Among these initiatives is the Protea Atlas Project, where volunteers collected information on the distribution of proteaceae, which has provided an unparalled resource for researchers working on understanding the evolution and future trajectories of a highly diverse group of plants with a common origin.
Because they are intensively studied, Proteaceae are used to assess the impacts of fire management on Fynbos biodiversity, and they played a key role in the development of conservation plans for the Cape Floristic Region.