There are a number of important considerations when developing a systematic biodiversity plan to ensure that the plan results in conservation action on the ground.
More information on the planning process can be found in the following publication:
DRIVER et al. 2003. Planning for Living Landscapes: Perspectives and lessons from South Africa
What is the aim of the systematic biodiversity plan and why is it required?
A biodiversity plan must be a user-driven product and not a supply-driven product. It is important to take into account why the biodiversity plan is being developed, how it will be implemented and who will be using the plan. What analysis and products are required will be determined by the scale of the plan and who will be using it. Before initiating the biodiversity plan consider the following questions:
- Who wants or needs the plan?
- Who will use the planning products?
- What is the organizational and institutional capacity for implementation?
- What are the possible implementation mechanisms?
- What are the opportunities and constraints for implementation?
Pay attention to project design
Although there is no set recipe for designing a biodiversity planning project it is important to invest time and resources into planning all components of the project including the biodiversity assessment, the development of products and the implementation of the products. A lead organisation is required to initiate and take responsibility for the biodiversity planning process. However, stakeholders should be involved in all components of the plan and mechanisms should be established at the start of the process to ensure this involvement.
The core biodiversity planning team should include:
- A project coordinator.
- A biodiversity planner.
Additional team members could include GIS technicians, guidelines developer, etc.
Structures to guide the project may include:
- An Advisory Steering Committee to provide high level input
- A Technical Reference Group made up of biodiversity experts and specialists contributing to the development of the assessment
Finally, it is important to establish timeframes, budgets and deliverables as part of the design process.
Design for implementation
Generally, the lead agent for a biodiversity plan is the relevant national or provincial conservation authority. However, it can also be a municipality or an NGO. If the lead organisation is not the conservation authority, then it is very important that the conservation authority is closely involved in the biodiversity planning process.
In terms of provincial biodiversity plans it is recommended that they are done in-house by the provincial environmental department and/or the provincial conservation agency to ensure implementation of the biodiversity plan.
Involve key stakeholders
When developing a biodiversity plan it is important to:
- Identify key stakeholders and understand their needs.
- Make the case for biodiversity (e.g. links to human wellbeing and contributions of biodiversity to the economy must be clear).
- Avoid broad participatory workshops which often waste time and resources.
- Different stakeholders have different needs therefore plan focused interactions to:
- Build awareness.
- Gather information.
- Get consensus on the identification of critical biodiversity areas.
- Get commitment for implementation.
- Communicate the objectives of the biodiversity planning process clearly to avoid unrealistic expectations.
- Allow sufficient time and resources for stakeholder engagement.
Identifying a suitable scale
Identifying a suitable scale for the biodiversity plan is critical to its usefulness. For further reading click here.