Abstract:

Making the case for the biodiversity in South Africa: harnessing the value of the grassland biome

Mahlodi S Tau1, Anthea C Stephens1, Aimee E Ginsburg1

1South African National Biodiversity Institute, Grasslands Programme, Private Bag X 101, Pretoria, 0001, South Africa

South Africa’s grassland biome, like grasslands globally, face significant transformation, land degradation and changing climate. As the most highly threatened biome in South Africa, international and national funds support the Grasslands Programme which focuses on mainstreaming biodiversity into the biomes dominant production sectors. A large part of mainstreaming biodiversity entails changing attitudes across sectors and disciplines, which requires being able to communicate in a way that resonates with a target audience. The effectiveness of decades of campaigning about ecosystem degradation, biodiversity loss and species extinction (fear of loss language), was compared to messages communicating the value offering of biodiversity and the benefits that revitalised grassland biome (hope of gain language). Findings indicated that fear of loss messages resonate poorly with decision makers and do not result in increased support for biodiversity management and conservation. A strategy was developed to shift perceptions about biodiversity to messages of value and opportunity. It recommended a set of core messages targeted at decision makers and the general public, speaking directly to the social and economic priorities of job creation, rural development, growth and addressing equity. Implementation of this strategy resulted in increasing evidence of the use and uptake of the Making the Case messaging and findings in media coverage, into policy documents, and into speeches of government Ministers’ and other high level individuals. It has also been important to increasing effectiveness of engagement with production sectors. This has all proved to be critical to strengthening the enabling environment for mainstreaming biodiversity into production sectors. 

Presentation Topic

Making the case for the biodiversity in South Africa: harnessing the value of the grassland biome

 

Contact Mr Tau: South African National Biodiversity Institute, Grasslands, Programme, Private Bag X 101, Pretoria, 00

 

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