Biodiversity in the urban economy

Urban settlements provide homes, places of business and other services and infrastructure for the majority of our population (59% of population live in urban areas). Inappropriately located and executed development as well as demand for housing and other infrastructure have often resulted in development over many important biodiversity areas. This is evident in highly urbanised areas like Gauteng (the smallest but most urbanised province in South Africa).

Solutions to mitigating the impact of urban development and particularly urban sprawl lie in strong urban edges, coherent open space systems that incorporate biodiversity priority areas, and a strong enabling environment. Biodiversity priority areas provide green spaces where residents can enjoy recreational activities, such as walking and bird-watching, while also supplying a range of services. These are services such as helping purify the air and absorb significant quantities of carbon dioxide, wetlands helping purify water and buffer communities from floods, adding amenity value.

Biodiversity mainstreaming into urban land-use planning and development is critical for moving towards a greener economy and more sustainable cities. Click on the links below to learn more about what SANBI and its partners are doing:


  1. UNDERSTAND: Understand more about why biodiversity is important, the legal case for biodiversity, important definitions and more.
  2. ACTION: Find out more about the tools and guidelines available to help you take action in better integrating biodiversity.
  3. BE INSPIRED: Be inspired by what others have done, success stories, news and views, as well as lessons learnt.
  4. CONNECT: Connect with organisations, processes or platforms tackling biodiversity mainstreaming issues in urban areas of South Africa.