Biodiversity targets for terrestrial eco-systems secured through effective management
Contributors: A. Driver, F. Daniels, N. Helme, M. Lotter & D. Raimondo
4.1 Mapping of terrestrial ecosystems
South Africa is fortunate to have a long history of vegetation mapping, and currently a detailed map of vegetation types exists, The Vegetation of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland, Mucina & Rutherford (2006). It describes 438 national vegetation types in nine biomes. These provide the basis for delineating terrestrial ecosystems types.
4.2 Determining biodiversity targets for each ecosystem
South Africa recognises that different ecosystems have different species compositions and to effectively conserve all biodiversity, the country has set different targets for each ecosystem. The biodiversity target is the minimum proportion of each ecosystem type that needs to be kept in a natural or near-natural state in the long term to maintain viable representative samples of all ecosystem types and the majority of species associated with those ecosystems. The biodiversity target is calculated based on species richness, using species–area relationship, and varies between 16% and 36% of the original extent of each ecosystem type (Desmet & Cowling 2004).
4.3 Assessing ecosystem threat status
The ecological condition or integrity of ecosystems, including loss or degradation of natural habitat, is used to determine ecosystem threat status. Spatial data on land cover is used as a proxy or surrogate for ecological condition. In all environments, the proportion of each ecosystem type that remains in good ecological condition is evaluated against a series of thresholds, as shown in Figure 14, to determine ecosystem threat status.
4.4 Assessing ecosystem protection level
The proportion of each ecosystem type that falls within a protected area is calculated and compared with the biodiversity target for that ecosystem type, to determine ecosystem protection level. If the full biodiversity target has been met in a protected area, the ecosystem type is considered well protected. If the ecosystem type has more than 50% of the area required for the biodiversity target, it is moderately protected; 5–49% is poorly protected; and if it does not occur in any protected area at all, or if less than 5% of the biodiversity target has been met in a protected area, the ecosystem is considered not protected (Driver et al. 2012).
Target 4 outcomes for 2020
4.1. The protection levels of the 35 terrestrial ecosystems that were assessed in 2011 to be Critically Endangered or Endangered, and also unprotected or poorly protected, are substantially increased.
4.2. The rate of loss of habitat in threatened ecosystems reduced, with no further loss taking place in Critically Endangered Ecosystems.
Of South Africa’s terrestrial ecosystem types, 40% are threatened, with 9% Critically Endangered, 11% Endangered and 19% Vulnerable. Nearly a quarter of terrestrial ecosystem types are well protected, while 35% have no protection (Driver et al. 2012). Threatened ecosystems with little or no protection are a priority to conserve.
Biodiversity stewardship programmes, which facilitate the protection of private and communal land through contractual agreements between conservation authorities and landowners, have been successfully established in the last decade in most of South Africa’s nine provinces. In addition to stewardship programmes, outright land acquisition for protection is also conducted by South African National Parks (SANParks) and by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)’s Land Trust. Alongside mechanisms for formal protection, interventions to minimise loss of habitat in threatened ecosystems have also been put in place. Since 2010, the listing of threatened ecosystems in terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (NEMBA), Act No. 10 of 2004, and the inclusion of threatened ecosystems and Critical Biodiversity Areas (CBAs) in the Environmental Impact Assessment regulations, have meant that threatened ecosystems and CBAs are taken into account in environmental authorisations and municipal land-use planning processes.
|Target 4: Biodiversity targets for terrestrial eco-systems secured through effective management|
|4.1. The protection levels of the 35 terrestrial ecosystems that were assessed in 2011 to be Critically Endangered or Endangered and also unprotected or poorly protected are substantially increased.||4.1.1. The National Protected Areas Expansion Strategy and Provincial Protected Area Expansion Strategies updated to include targets for poorly protected or unprotected Critically Endangered and Endangered Ecosystems.||
4.1.1. National and Provincial Biodiversity Planners.
|4.1.2. Provincial biodiversity stewardship work prioritised to take place in threatened and poorly protected or unprotected ecosystems.||
4.1.2. Existing conservation officials including biodiversity stewardship officials.
|4.1.3. A fund for land acquisition and management of remaining intact areas of natural habitat in threatened ecosystems set up.||
4.1.3. World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Land Trust; provinces special applications to Treasury.
|4.2. The rate of loss of habitat in threatened ecosystems reduced with no further loss taking place in Critically Endangered Ecosystems.||4.2.1. All Critically Endangered Ecosystems identified as Critical Biodiversity Areas (CBAs) in provincial biodiversity plans, biodiversity sector plans (municipal) and bioregional plans.||4.2.1. Provincial biodiversity planners and SANBI’s Biodiversity Planning and Policy Advice team.||
|4.2.2. Land-use guidelines restrictive enough to ensure persistence of remaining natural areas of Critically Endangered Ecosystems.||4.2.2. Provincial biodiversity planners and SANBI’s Biodiversity Planning and Policy Advice team.||
|4.2.3. Law enforcement processes improved to discourage illegal removal of indigenous vegetation in Critically Endangered Ecosystems (further detailed in South Africa’s updated National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, underway at time of writing).||4.2.3. Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF).||4.2.3. 2015–2020|