South Africa: Ecosystem-Based Planning for Climate Change
Full Case Study (PDF, 376 Kb)
South Africa is one of 17 mega-diverse countries on the planet, home to three biodiversity hotspots and almost 15% of known coastal and marine species. Over the last decade, South Africa has incorporated biodiversity information into spatial and development planning, and created a national strategy for expanding protected areas to conserve biodiversity and promote ecosystem resilience.
Biodiversity sector plans, which include maps of critical biodiversity areas and ecosystem support areas, are being used in seven of the country’s nine provinces. These plans are designed to guide land-use planning and decision-making by all sectors that impact biodiversity such as housing, agriculture, conservation and industry. Systematic biodiversity planning has also been used to map 44 important areas that capture the full range of South Africa’s biodiversity patterns and ecological processes and could form the basis for expansion of the country’s protected estate.
In some provinces and districts there has been significant progress in making the transition from having plans in place to actually implementing them on the ground, resulting in the real integration of biodiversity and climate change adaptation priorities into the policies, programs and day-to-day work of other sectors. However, these are not recognized as pressing national priorities, and compete for resources with many other development challenges. The lesson is that having state-of-the-art biodiversity planning products in place does not guarantee that they will be effectively used to guide appropriate development or wise biodiversity management; for this, more active capacity building efforts are required for land-use planners, decision-makers, scientists, NGOs and other implementers.
About the Authors:
Caroline Petersen is Learning Network Coordinator for the South Africa National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), capturing and disseminating learning about best practice across SANBI’s bioregional programmes and the partnerships they support. In 2010 she worked with South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs and the United Nations Development Programme, overseeing the development of a book entitled “Biodiversity for Development: South Africa’s Landscape Approach to Conserving Biodiversity and Promoting Ecosystem Resilience”. Caroline has a background in writing and policy formulation on environment and development issues. In 2005, Caroline was a lead author of the introductory chapter to the Global Environment Facility strategy document “Mainstreaming Biodiversity in Production Landscapes”. Caroline has an MPhil in Adult Education from UCT, and an MSc (Econ) in Economic History from the London School of Economics.
Dr. Stephen Holness is the Senior Manager for Strategic Conservation Planning for South African National Parks. He is responsible for spatial biodiversity planning, including systematic conservation planning to support the establishment of new protected areas, the expansion of existing reserves, and the prioritization of land use within reserves. Recent major national projects in collaboration with the South African National Biodiversity Institute include the spatial assessment for the South African National Protected Areas Expansion Strategy, and marine, climate change and coastal components of the current National Biodiversity Assessment. At a more local scale he is interested in incorporating biodiversity issues (in particular spatial priorities for climate change response) into integrated land use plans, and has been involved with producing Critical Biodiversity Area maps for a number of districts including the Garden Route, the Overberg and the Karoo.
- Expert Perspectives on...
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- How can civil society best support, and hold accountable, national-level governments in their efforts to integrate climate change risks into planning and policy-making processes?
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