How Private Landowners Are Contributing to Biodiversity Conservation
CapeNature is delighted with how private landowners in the Western Cape have embraced the concept of biodiversity conservation.
Since most of the province’s biodiversity is in private ownership, CapeNature initiated the Biodiversity Stewardship Programme in 2003. This programme facilitates conservation on privately owned land by setting up agreements between the landowners and CapeNature.
The landowners undertake to protect and manage their properties or parts thereof according to sound conservation management principles and CapeNature undertakes to support this management by providing advice, management plans and assistance in planning alien invasive species clearing, ﬁre management schedules, erosion control and other technical support.
These stewardship agreements may take the form of one of ﬁve sub-categories each with a diﬀerent level of obligation and protection oﬀered:
1. Nature Reserves are Protected Areas declared in terms of section 23 of the National Environmental Management Act (Act 57 of 2003) with a legally recognised Management Agreement and appointment of a Management Authority. This category is aimed at protecting biodiversity in the long term and contributes to South Africa’s Protected Area Estate.
2. Protected Environments are declared in terms of section 28 of the National Environmental Management Act (Act 57 of 2003) and are the most ﬂexible of the formally recognised Protected Areas with legally recognised contracts and contributes to South Africa’s Protected Area Estate.
3. Biodiversity Management Agreements are declared in terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (Act 10 of 2004) and is a shorter term, less restrictive than Protected Area declaration and contributes to South Africa’s Conservation Area Estate.
4. Biodiversity Agreements are negotiated contracts between CapeNature and a landowner for conserving biodiversity in the medium term and contributes to South Africa’s Conservation Area Estate.
5. Biodiversity Partnerships are informal, ﬂexible options for landowners and communities who want to conserve biodiversity on their land. This category does not contribute to South Africa’s Conservation Area Estate.
Due to limited resources available to the Stewardship Programme, only the top priorities can be targeted for stewardship. These priorities are identiﬁed in the Western Cape Protected Area Expansion Strategy of 2015 which highlights a subset of the province’s critical biodiversity areas.
According to this strategy, the aim for 2020 is to secure an additional 349 000 ha in the province through a combination of stewardship agreements between landowners and CapeNature and this target looks very likely to be achieved and even exceeded.
The cost of stewardship to the state is much lower than the alternative of purchasing and managing land, thereby making biodiversity stewardship a very cost eﬀective approach. It also allows for the private landowner to beneﬁt more from the biodiversity through ecologically sensitive income-generating avenues such as ecotourism or green labelling of agricultural produce.
For more information on CapeNature’s Biodiversity Stewardship programme, please contact:
Garth Mortimer (Senior Manager: Protected Area Expansion & Stewardship)
Tel: 021 808 7812