Mapping Biodiversity Priorities is a joint publication between the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and the United Nations Environment Programme – World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC). The document summarises the essential components of South Africa’s well-established approach for systematic biodiversity planning.
South Africa’s approach to biodiversity planning is often cited as a useful way to incorporate science-based spatial data into national biodiversity strategies and action plans, and SANBI is frequently contacted for information on how this approach was developed and applied. In September 2015, UNEP-WCMC and SANBI held an expert writing workshop at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in Cape Town to distil and write up the essential components for conducting a spatial biodiversity assessment and prioritisation.
The resulting document sets out a practical, science-based approach to spatial biodiversity assessment and prioritisation, which can be applied at the national level in any country. It is particularly useful in countries that are both biodiversity-rich and resource-constrained, but can also be used in other contexts. The approach draws on the principles of systematic biodiversity planning (also known as systematic conservation planning), and can be applied in the terrestrial, freshwater, coastal and marine realms. A few basic datasets can be combined to produce useful headline indicators of the state of biodiversity, and map products that help to focus and prioritise conservation action across the landscape and seascape. This information can be used to inform a wide range of policy applications, such as National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs), protected area expansion, and informing land-use planning and decision-making in a range of sectors.