The National Biodiversity Assessment (NBA) is the primary tool for monitoring and reporting on the state of biodiversity in South Africa. It is used to inform policies, strategies and actions in a range of sectors for managing and conserving biodiversity more effectively.
Each NBA is named after the year of the data underpinning the assessment. The third NBA, NBA 2018, was released in October 2019.
Why the NBA is done?
South Africa is a special country with exceptional biodiversity, much of which is unique and makes us one of the world’s 17 megadiverse nations. This biodiversity wealth gives people tangible benefits like food, clean water, medicine and materials; it supports agricultural and fisheries production and helps protect us from natural hazards like floods and droughts; and it provides the basis of a vibrant tourism industry while offering natural spaces for recreational and cultural activities.
With this rich endowment comes the responsibility and challenge of ensuring our species and ecosystems are conserved and used sustainably to the benefit of all South Africans and future generations. The NBA is a summary of the state of South Africa’s biodiversity and is prepared as part of the SANBI mandate under the Biodiversity Act (NEMBA, Act 10 of 2004).
How the NBA is undertaken?
Although led by SANBI, the scope of the NBA makes collaboration between multiple institutions and individuals an essential part of its development process. This collaboration ensures that the best available science underpins the NBA, promotes collective ownership of the NBA products by the biodiversity community in South Africa, and helps ensure a common vision for action following the assessment.
The NBA 2018 has involved nearly five years’ groundbreaking work from 2015 to 2019. Over 470 individuals from approximately 90 institutions have worked persistently in providing and processing data, participating in collaborative workshops, authoring chapters on technical reports, and acting as experts and reviewers for the various NBA components. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research led the inland aquatic and estuarine components, and Nelson Mandela University led the coastal and sub-Antarctic component of NBA 2018.
This landmark assessment measures the threat status and protection level of species and ecosystems across the terrestrial, freshwater, estuarine and marine realms, and provides detailed information about the coast and South Africa’s sub-Antarctic territory (Prince Edward and Marion Islands and associated waters). New analyses in the NBA 2018 include trend analyses for species threat status, and an assessment of land cover change in the terrestrial environment, and an examination of potential ways to assess genetic diversity on a national scale.
How the NBA is utilised?
The science and knowledge generated in the NBA is freely available to planners and policy/decision makers in key sectors that rely on biodiversity and the environment; to government and civil society for informing national and international reporting and actions; and to educators, scientists, students for facilitating capacity building and new science. National knowledge gaps and research priorities linked to biodiversity have been uncovered in the NBA 2018, while the identification of priority actions and priority areas for the conservation and management of biodiversity can flow from the findings.
The NBA 2018 products
The NBA 2018 products consist of a technical synthesis report accompanied by seven technical reports with associated datasets, maps and supplementary materials, as well as peer-reviewed papers in academic journals and popular products. Access the NBA 2018 products by clicking on the links at the top of this page.
Previous NBAs can be accessed here:
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