The recently completed National Biodiversity Assessment 2011 provides an assessment of South Africa’s biodiversity and ecosystems, including headline indicators and national maps for the terrestrial, freshwater, estuarine and marine environments. The NBA 2011 was led by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) in partnership with a range of organisations, including the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), CSIR and SANParks. It follows on from the National Spatial Biodiversity Assessment 2004, broadening the scope of the assessment to include key thematic issues as well as a spatial assessment. The NBA 2011 includes a summary of spatial biodiversity priority areas that have been identified through systematic biodiversity plans at national, provincial and local level.
Information from the NBA can be used to:
- Streamline environmental decision-making, including environmental impact assessments (EIAs), by providing upfront information about threatened ecosystems and biodiversity priority areas that can be integrated early on in the process to improve the quality and efficiency of decision making at the site scale.
- Strengthen land-use planning, including through provincial and municipal Spatial Development Frameworks which set out desired future patterns of land-use, taking into account the priorities and requirements of a range of sectors.
- Strengthen national development planning and other strategic planning processes, through provision of clear spatial inputs to enable optimal development decisions for South Africa’s future. This should happen at the national and landscape scale through scenario planning, enabling strategic trade-offs where necessary, for example between minerals development, energy security and water security.
- Identify priorities for management and restoration of ecosystems, which provides opportunities for ecosystem-based job creation and supports the provision of ecosystem services.
- Provide initial identification of threatened ecosystems, for listing in terms of the Biodiversity Act.
- Highlight areas where more detailed assessment and planning is required, for example the need for a national coastal biodiversity plan to identify coastal ecosystem priority areas.
The NBA also provides standard national spatial data layers that can be used in other national, provincial and local planning projects, and an agreed set of national biodiversity targets. In the NBA 2011 these include the first national map of coastal and marine habitat types, and the first national spatial demarcation of the estuarine functional zone.
Map of South Africa’s terrestrial ecosystem protection level
To learn more about the National Biodiversity Assessment 2011 and to download the reports, please consult the BGIS website.