A RAPID ASSESSMENT TECHNIQUE OF ECOLOGICAL INFRASTRUCTURE APPLIED IN BIODIVERSITY STEWARDSHIP SITES
Greg Martindale, Steven McKean and Tamara Hiltunen
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

 

Abstract:
In assessing Biodiversity Stewardship Sites to determine which category they qualify for, a measure of the ecosystem goods and services that they provide must be included.Assessment of ecosystem goods and services has been problematic, as previous versions of the assessment techniques applied focussed on the supply and demand of such services and were subjective, confusing and time consuming.This led to an unclear understanding of the services provided by individual sites and inconsistency in assessing different sites.The concept of “Ecological Infrastructure” is appealing as it is based on the infrastructure that underlies the services provided, which is usually easier to identify than it is to quantify the services.The analogy is that it is easier to identify and assess condition of a river than to quantify the services that it provides. In an effort to move from identifying supply and demand of ecosystem goods and services, the KwaZulu-Natal Biodiversity Stewardship Programme has continually refined methods and has now developed a rapid technique for assessing Ecological Infrastructure, as part of the assessment of Biodiversity Stewardship Sites.This technique is based on a number of proxies for Ecological Infrastructure, which include but are not limited to the size of a site and its habitat condition.It also utilises key mapping layers such as those for the National Freshwater Ecosystem Priority Areas (NFEPAs). The thinking behind the development of the technique is that a large site in good ecological condition will have a greater amount of Ecological Infrastructure in good condition and will thus provide greater ecosystem goods and services than a similar smaller site in good ecological condition.Similarly, sites with greater habitat heterogeneity, threatened and endemic species, are anticipated to have higher levels of genetic, medicinal, ornamental and pollination resources than similar sites with lower levels of habitat heterogeneity, threatened and endemic species. The technique has evolved from a relatively cumbersome one and remains a work-in-progress.However, it has proven useful in objectively and consistently assessing the Ecological Infrastructure located in several Biodiversity Stewardship Sites.

 
Presentation Topic

A RAPID ASSESSMENT TECHNIQUE OF ECOLOGICAL INFRASTRUCTURE APPLIED IN BIODIVERSITY STEWARDSHIP SITES

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