The Land Reform and Biodiversity Stewardship Initiative (LRBSI) was initiated in 2009 by the Department of Environment, Forestry & Fisheries (DEFF), the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) and the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) as a response to specific conservation challenges in the land reform and communal areas. The Initiative is a conservation and developmental initiative with a focus on land reform beneficiaries. the overarching objective being to stimulate socio-economic development in land reform projects that overlap with areas of critical biodiversity, in a manner that allows for the full use of both human and natural resource capacities, while preserving the sufficient functioning of the ecosystem.
The Initiative has two broad objectives:
1. To establish a network of learning and community of practice regarding land reform/communal lands and biodiversity stewardship as well as between the land and conservation sectors across the country
2. To demonstrate the successful delivery of both socio-economic and conservation benefits at a project level.
The Initiative has gained more popularity over the years and this has seen an increase in the number of beneficiaries and has diversified to include communal/community conservation projects. It considers land reform projects in areas of biodiversity importance. To obtain support for conservation by land reform beneficiaries, the LRBSI demonstrate the tangible socio-economic potential of the projects relative to the opportunity cost for alternative land uses.
The LRBSI relies on multiple stakeholders who should each play their part for the project to reach its full potential. Such stakeholders include NGOs, government departments and institutes, private investors, donors and other interested parties like individuals and the communities as well. Emphasis should be placed on using the skills and expertise of each party (stakeholders) and coordination which allows multi-stakeholder engagements is essential to mobilize resources, avoid duplications and overlaps.