South African conservation planning for the future

 South Africa is one of the worlds most biodiverse countries and is home to three of the global biodiversity hotspots. This megadiverse country is also leading the way in terms of strategic conservation planning towards the recognition and protection of this amazing species diversity and the associated threatened ecosystems.

James Lewis (Rainforest Trust, USA) and Oldrich van Skalkwyk (Endangered Wildlife Trust) discuss protected area expansion options in the Soutpansberg Mountains, the most northerlyrange in South Africa.

A number of processes are currently in development in South Africa including the development of ecosystem management guidelines such as the Savanna and Thicket Biome Guidelines (both in draft) as well as the grassland guideline that was published recently.

The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) developed one of the worlds first detailed national ecosystem red-lists and is currently in the process of updating this for the third time providing an advanced level of understanding for this process. In 2018 a national KBA committee was established and this committee is driving the development of the national KBA. The steering committee holds biannual meetings and has enlisted the help of multiple organisations with extensive biodiversity data to drive this process forward.

Although South Africa clearly has access to amazingly detailed data, planning tools and associated legislation, this does not make it immune to irresponsible and unsustainable development. One key breakthrough in the last few months however strengthens the conservation status of their protected areas in the face of increasing demand for the mining of fossil fuels. A coalition of NGOs has legally challenged a ministerial decision to grant mining within a protected area and has won. This is landmark case and will provide strength to our legal protection of protected areas going forward and provide motivation for increased effort towards protected area expansion across the country in line with global protected area targets.


For more information contact: Ian Little


 Dr Ian Little is a Senior Manager at the Endangered Wildlife Trust and IUCN CEM regional chair for East and Southern Africa.

 

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