Abstract:

The contribution of Biodiversity Stewardship in achieving protected area and biodiversity targets in KZN

Greg Martindale

The National Protected Area Expansion Strategy requires that 842,000 hectares be added to the protected area system in KwaZulu-Natal by 2028.  This is in order to create a protected area system that sustains biodiversity and ecological processes, and provides for greater resilience to climate change.  Currently, 53% of important biodiversity in the province is in private or communal ownership, which means that existing state-protected areas are not fully representative of the province’s vegetation types or species diversity.
Biodiversity stewardship provides a cost-effective mechanism for securing sites required to meet protected area targets.  The KZN Biodiversity Stewardship Programme works with landowners to establish new protected areas, either in the form of Protected Environments or Nature Reserves, as contemplated in the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act (No.57 of 2003).  The programme is voluntary, landowners retain title to their land and in return, they receive support and assistance in managing their land to achieve clearly identified biodiversity conservation outcomes.  The focus of the programme is to protect the most important remaining biodiversity in the province.  On this basis, the programme works with a variety of types of landowners that range from single commercial farmers, multiple landowners, land reform and land restitution sites, corporations, municipalities and communally-owned land.  An important focus of the programme is in securing key ecological processes that support and sustain human livelihood and in developing land uses that contribute to improved rural livelihoods.
The success of the programme lies in its collaborative nature, involving Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, a range of NGO partners and important other governmental partners.  These partnerships have grown and strengthened in recent years, through funding provided through the Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund, providing a strong impetus for the achievement of protected area targets.
Since it began as a pilot project in 2006, over 40,000 hectares of land have been secured in KZN and over 100,000 hectares are in the process of being secured.  This land contributes significantly to protected area targets in general and to the protection of representative samples of particular vegetation types within KZN.  The protection of these vegetation types is of particular importance, as historically they have been poorly represented within the protected area system.  These include, particularly, vegetation types within the Grassland Biome but also important vegetation types in the Savannah and Forest Biomes.  Habitat has also been secured for a number of critically endangered plant and faunal species and in several instances new species have been discovered or the ranges of known species have been extended.  Through the programme, it is hoped that a number of key vegetation types and species may be effectively protected, and that it may contribute towards the establishment of a fully representative protected area system in KwaZulu-Natal.

Presentation Topic

The contribution of Biodiversity Stewardship in achieving protected area and biodiversity targets in KZN

 

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Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, PO Box 13053, Cascades 3202

 

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