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South African Domestic Policies



National Climate Change Response Strategy for South Africa

The strategies outlined the National Climate Change Response Strategy for South Africa, 2004 are designed to address issues that have been identified as priorities for dealing with climate change in South Africa. The point of departure reflected in this strategy is achievement of national and sustainable development objectives, whilst simultaneously responding to climate change.

One of the objectives in the strategy is to offset South Africa’s vulnerability to climate change. The strategy identified plant and animal biodiversity as one of the areas of highest vulnerability to climate change, which needs to be targeted for climate change adaptation measures.


Mining and Biodiversity Guideline


The Mining and Biodiversity Guideline provides the mining sector with a practical, user-friendly manual for integrating biodiversity considerations into the planning processes and managing biodiversity during the operational phases of a mine, from exploration through to closure. It serves as a tool to facilitate the sustainable development of South Africa’s mineral resources in a way that enables regulators, industry and practitioners to minimise the impact of mining on the country’s biodiversity and ecosystem services.

National Biodiversity Framework


Section 38 of NEMBA places a legislative obligation on the Minister to prepare and adopt a National Biodiversity Framework (NBF), with a view to co-ordinating and aligning the efforts of organisations and individuals that are involved in conserving and managing South Africa’s biodiversity. At its core, the NBF sets 33 Priority Actions which guide the work of the biodiversity sector on a 5-year basis.

National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan


South Africa's National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (2015-2025) is a revised version of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (2005). The National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) was created in fulfilment of an obligation under the Convention on Biological Diversity. It includes a comprehensive 10-year strategy and plan for the conservation and sustainable use of South Africa’s biodiversity, including 15-year targets. It identifies the priorities for biodiversity management in South Africa for this period, aligning these with the priorities and targets in the global agenda, as well as national development imperatives. The NBSAP outlines a path to ensure the management of biodiversity assets and ecological infrastructure continue to support South Africa’s development path and play an important role in underpinning the economy.  

National Protected Area Expansion Strategy for South Africa, 2016 and 2008



The National Protected Area Expansion Strategy for South Africa, 2016 (NPAES, 2016) presents a 20-year strategy for the expansion of protected areas in South Africa. NPAES, 2016 represents the first full revision of the National Protected Area Expansion Strategy for South Africa, 2008.

South Africa’s protected area network currently falls short of representing all ecosystems and maintaining ecological processes. In this context, the goal of the NPAES is to achieve cost effective protected area expansion for improved ecosystem representation, ecological sustainability and resilience to climate change.

It sets protected area targets, maps priority areas for protected area expansion, and makes recommendations on mechanisms to achieve this. The NPAES provides a common set of targets and spatial priorities to guide efforts and enable co-ordination among the many role players involved in protected area expansion. This is particularly important in the context of South Africa’s globally exceptional biodiversity richness on the one hand, and significant financial and human resource constraints on the other.

National Biodiversity Assessment

The purpose of the National Biodiversity Assessment (NBA) is to assess the state of South Africa’s biodiversity based on the best available science, so as to recognise trends over time and inform policy and decision-making across a range of sectors. The NBA is the primary tool for monitoring and reporting on the state of biodiversity in South Africa and informs policies, strategic objectives and activities for managing and conserving biodiversity more effectively. The NBA is key in ensuring that SANBI fulfils its statutory responsibility under NEMBA to monitor and report on the state of South Africa’s biodiversity.  

National Botanical Garden Expansion Strategy 2019–2030

The National Botanical Garden Expansion Strategy 2019–2030 describes a strategy for the establishment, expansion and maintenance of a network of botanical gardens across South Africa until 2030, so as to align with the time frame prescribed for South Africa’s National Development Plan 2030.

The goal of this strategy is to raise awareness, contribute to education about biodiversity, and to support conservation by establishing, maintaining and expanding a representative network of botanical gardens with their associated biodiversity and ecological interactions, across South Africa.

This goal will be achieved through:

  • Establishing at least one national botanical garden in each province of South Africa
  • Establishing a botanical/demonstration garden representative of each biome in South Africa
  • The use of opportunities to expand existing national botanical gardens, where considered feasible and appropriate
  • Entering into agreements with other institutions that manage botanical gardens in South or southern Africa

National Development Plan, 2030


The National Development Plan 2030 (NDP) recognises as biodiversity and ecosystems in conservation areas as national assets. The maintenance of ecosystem services (such as those providing food and clean water, regulating climate and disease, supporting crop pollination and nutrient cycles, and delivering cultural benefits such as recreational opportunities) is fundamental to achieving South Africa’s social and economic development objectives.

The NDP states that long-term planning to promote biodiversity and the conservation and rehabilitation of natural assets is critical, and should be complemented by a strategy for assessing the environmental impact of new developments as an important component of overall development and spatial planning.

Where damage cannot be avoided or mitigated, and where the social and economic benefits justify the development, a commensurate investment in community development and the rehabilitation and conservation of biodiversity assets and ecosystem services is required.