South Africa's Succulent Karoo boasts the richest variety of succulent plants in the world, with nearly one-third of its floral species found nowhere else on Earth. In addition to its floral diversity, this region is a center of diversity for reptiles and many groups of invertebrates. Unfortunately, the Succulent Karoo is under extreme pressure from human impacts, especially overgrazing, mining, illegal collection of fauna and flora, and climate change.
In September 2001, CI and its South African partners initiated a regional systematic conservation planning process in the Succulent Karoo hotspot, with the creation of the Succulent Karoo Ecosystem Planning (SKEP) process, which was funded by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund. From the beginning, the planning process involved Anglo Base Metals, a division of Anglo American that operates in the area, as well as several other regional and local stakeholders.
Within this process, we have been providing technical and financial support since early 2003 to a local partner, the Botanical Society of South Africa, to support development of the Bushmanland Conservation Initiative (BCI). Bushmanland, an area of about 338,000 hectares, was one of nine areas identified as being of high biodiversity value and a priority for conservation.
Through the BCI, Anglo American and other stakeholders are working to establish a 60,000 hectare protected area and pilot local economic development activities. Anglo American has also committed to continuing to work with the BCI to develop mining best practice guidelines for biodiversity management at its Black Mountain mine and Gamsberg exploration project.