South Africa is signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and is committed to the implementation of a national strategy to conserve plants that aligns with the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC). With 6% of the world’s plant diversity and strong botanical and conservation capacity, South Africa is well placed to make a significant contribution to plant conservation globally. This document presents South Africa’s Strategy for Plant Conservation. It includes 16 outcome-oriented targets, each of which, if implemented well, will help lead to improved conservation of plants. The targets range from work to document, describe and assess the conservation status of plants; through to targets to conserve plants in situ and ex situ. Targets are nationally relevant and align with activities identified in South Africa’s updated National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP).
For South Africa’s strategy global targets from the GSPC have been modified to ensure that they are achievable in the megadiverse flora context in which plant conservation work takes place. Much of South Africa’s conservation work is done in an integrated fashion with plant and animal conservation combined with the conservation of ecosystems and habitats. Plant conservation is not done in isolation of other work to conserve biodiversity. South Africa’s biodiversity sector bases its work on priorities identified through systematic biodiversity plans that identify Critical Biodiversity Areas (CBAs), which represent ecological viable networks of ecosystems and species for conservation. The targets to conserve plant diversity in production lands (Target 6) and the conservation of ecosystems (Target 4) in particular, have been guided by systematic biodiversity planning work.
This strategy was developed under the leadership of SANBI, the focal point for the implementation of the GSPC nationally with support from the Botanical Society of South Africa (BotSoc). Through the development of this strategy a network of botanists has been developed that includes conservation agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and academic institutions. It is this strong network will ensure that South Africa’s Strategy for Plant Conservation is implemented by 2020.