Systematic biodiversity planning

What is systematic biodiversity planning?

Systematic biodiversity planning (also known as systematic conservation planning) identifies priority areas for biodiversity conservation within the landscape. With the limited resources available for biodiversity conservation it is important to have a mechanism to prioritize areas for conservation action.

Systematic biodiversity planning uses a rigorous, data-driven approach to identify geographic priorities for biodiversity conservation. It represents best available science internationally and is the standard approach to biodiversity planning in South Africa.

The key characteristics of a systematic biodiversity plan are:

  • The principle of representation: the need to conserve a representative sample of all biodiversity pattern (ecosystems and species).
  • The principle of persistence: the need to maintain ecological processes that allow ecosystems to function and enable biodiversity to persist in the long term.
  • The setting of quantitative biodiversity targets for biodiversity features, indicating how much of each feature is required in order to conserve a representative sample of biodiversity pattern and key ecological processes.
  • Spatial efficiency (meeting biodiversity targets as efficiently as possible in terms of the amount of land required), and conflict avoidance (where possible avoiding conflict with other land uses).

Further background information

Developing a systematic biodiversity plan

The development of a systematic biodiversity plan can be divided into three main steps:

  1. Preparation — includes identifying the aims for the plan, paying attention to the project design, involving key stakeholders and choosing a suitable scale for the plan;
  2. Analysis — includes conducting the biodiversity assessment and interpreting the results;
  3. Using the plan — ensuring that the plan’s products are used in land-use planning and decision-making processes.