News Flash: Amalgamated National CBA and ESA Layer

Amalgamated National CBA and ESA Layer

Maps of Critical Biodiversity Areas and Ecological Support Areas (referred to as a CBA Map) been developed for all nine provinces, some municipalities as well as coastal and marine realm using the principles and methods of systematic biodiversity planning. The maps identifies Critical Biodiversity Areas (CBAs) and Ecological Support Areas (ESAs). CBAs are areas that must be maintained in good ecological condition (natural or near-natural state) in order to meet biodiversity targets, while ESAs are areas that must be maintained in at least fair ecological condition (semi-natural/moderately modified state) in order to support the ecological functioning of a CBA.

The CBA Maps vary depending on the realm, reasons for their development, and the availability of data. This results in unique features, attribute fields, and map sub-categories being used. Although the Technical Guidelines for CBA Maps ensure the conceptual consistency (comparable methods and the same general map categories) between the provinces and plans, it also acknowledges that flexibility is required to allow customisation of the plan to account for contextual differences. However, the variations can pose challenges when undertaking national assessments, analyses or even producing map graphics.
Due to the variation, it is crucial to have a single flattened national spatial layer of CBAs and ESAs that can be used across various sectors when it comes to spatial planning.

Anticipated uses of the Amalgamated National CBA and ESA Layer include, but are not limited to:

  • A single GIS file that can be combined with other maps.
  • Visual and graphic purposes to display CBA Maps for the whole country.
  • Statistical analysis of CBAs and ESAs at a national level
  • Mainstreaming biodiversity into spatial planning and decision-making at national level
  • o National Web Based Environmental Screening Tool
    o Strategic Environmental Assessments
    o National Spatial Development Framework
  • An input towards other national assessment or prioritisation processes
  • o Key Biodiversity Areas
    o Essential Life Support Action Areas


Tsamaelo Malebu

SANBI Senior GIS Specialist

South African National Biodiversity Institute