Systematic biodiversity planning can be done in any landscape and at any scale, for example either at a national, provincial, or fine-scale. Although the same principles and methodology are used at different scales, the data requirements and the products can vary depending on how the plan will be used. Broad scale plans identify broad priority areas for conservation action while fine-scale plans are needed within these priority areas to design protected area networks and to inform land-use planning and decision making.
National Biodiversity Assessment
In 2004, South Africa produced the first ever national spatial assessment, the National Spatial Biodiversity Assessment (NSBA). This assessment considered terrestrial, river, estuarine and freshwater environments and provided a national context for future biodiversity planning in South Africa. The NSBA assessed the conservation status of ecosystems and identified nine, broad priority areas for conservation action and further finer-scale biodiversity planning. The NSBA is updated every five years and SANBI has recently released the 2011 NBA reports, available on the BGIS website.
Provincial spatial biodiversity plans
A provincial spatial biodiversity plan has two main goals:
- To guide conservation agencies in terms of protected area expansion by identifying priority areas for protected area expansion and consolidation, including priority areas for stewardship contracts with private and communal landowners.
- To guide land-use planning and decision-making in other sectors by identifying critical biodiversity areas crucial for conserving a representative sample of biodiversity and maintaining ecosystem functioning.
The responsibility of leading the development of a provincial biodiversity plan lies with the provincial conservation authority. In some cases the provincial biodiversity plan is developed in house and in some cases with the help of consultants. The following five provinces have completed provincial biodiversity plans:
- Gauteng (C-Plan version 3.3, lead agent: GDACE) (data available for download from BGIS)
- Mpumalanga (Mpumalanga Biodiversity Conservation Plan, lead agents: MTPA and DALA) (data available for download from BGIS)
- Eastern Cape (Eastern Cape Biodiversity Conservation Plan, lead agent: DEDEA, with ECP involvement) (data available for download from BGIS)
- KwaZulu-Natal (KwaZulu-Natal Biodiversity Conservation Plan, lead agent: Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife)
- North West (North West Biodiversity Conservation Assessment, lead agent: NWDACE) (data available for download from BGIS)
The remaining four provinces have initiated provincial planning initiatives and are at various stages in the process of developing provincial biodiversity plans.
Fine-scale biodiversity plans
There are a number of local or fine-scale biodiversity plans in South Africa. These fine-scale plans form the basis for biodiversity sector plans and published bioregional plans. In the Western Cape, through the CAPE Fine-scale Biodiversity Planning project, fine-scale biodiversity plans have been developed for a number of local municipalities.
The CAPE Fine-scale Biodiversity Planning project reports and online maps are available on the FSP section of the BGIS website.
Two Metros have also developed systematic biodiversity plans including:
- The City of Cape Town, which has developed the City of Cape Town’s Biodiversity Network.
- Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality.