Bioregional plans

The Biodiversity Act (Act No. 10 of 2004) provides for the management and conservation of biological diversity in South Africa and has introduced a number of new tools to help achieve this. One of these tools is publishing bioregional plans.

To assist with the development and publishing of bioregional plans in South Africa, SANBI and DEA developed a guideline (see below). This guideline was gazetted on 16 March 2009 (Government Gazette No. 32006). SANBI has also produced a summary of this guideline; highlighting the key elements, processes and procedures of publishing a bioregional plan.

What is a bioregional plan?

The basic elements of a bioregional plan are:

  • A map of critical biodiversity areas, which are terrestrial and aquatic features critical for conserving biodiversity and maintaining ecosystem functioning, and which should thus remain in their natural state.
  • Accompanying land-use guidelines for avoiding loss or degradation of natural habitat in critical biodiversity areas.

The purpose of a bioregional plan (see figure below) is to inform land-use planning and decision-making by a range of sectors whose policies and decisions impact on biodiversity. This is done through providing a map of biodiversity priorities with accompanying land-use planning and decision-making guidelines. Bioregional plans are intended to feed into a range of multi-sectoral planning and assessment processes such as Environmental Management Frameworks (EMFs), Spatial Development Frameworks (SDFs), Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEAs) and Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs). It is important to note that a bioregional plan is NOT in itself a multi-sectoral planning or assessment tool. The figure below explains the relationship between systematic biodiversity plans, bioregional plans and multi-sectoral planning and assessment tools.

Bioregional boundaries must align with administrative boundaries to ensure usefulness of bioregional plans. Bioregions must therefore be configured as: district municipalities, metropolitan municipalities, local municipalities, or groups of local municipalities.

The relationship between systematic biodiversity plans, bioregional plans, and multi-sectoral planning and assessment tools.

For more information on bioregional plans:

  • Gazetted guideline 2009. Guideline regarding the determination of bioregions and the preparation and publication of bioregional plans.