It has become a priority in conservation organisations across South Africa to develop projects that will ensure the maintenance of an environment that can enable biodiversity to adapt to changing climate. The Biodiversity Stewardship Programme, begun by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and now managed by Wildlands Conservation Trust, aims to achieve just that by securing core conservation areas and employing Biodiversity Stewardship as a tool for improving the conservation management of these sites.
How it works
Stewardship processes identify land of critical importance for biodiversity conservation and/or the provision of ecosystem services and encourage private and communal landowners to engage in biodiversity conservation and other sustainable land use practices. They maintain ownership of their land, receive guidance and management assistance, and are supported to diversify their land-based activities to create sustainable livelihoods, all the while protecting the country's unique biodiversity against the threat of climate change.
KZN is home to a rich diversity of plant and animal life. Currently, at least 80 percent of the important biodiversity lies outside formally protected areas, on privately or communally owned land. The Biodiversity Stewardship Programme helps to secure some of these areas for long-term biodiversity conservation while maintaining the productivity of the landscape for landowners as well. A further, central aim is the creation of a network of protected areas linked as corridors across the landscape in order to improve the ability of species to adapt to climate change. Biodiversity Stewardship involves formal, legally binding agreements with landowners for a minimum of 30 years.
The project began with six stewardship sites in KwaZulu-Natal, all falling within the Maputaland Albany Pondoland Biodiversity Hotspot. CAP and DGMT have since the projects inception supported the institution of Biodiversity Stewardship at the Dalton Private Nature Reserve, Red Desert Nature Reserve, Umgano Community Conservancy, Somkhanda Game Reserve, Usuthu Gorge, and Mweni (Upper Thukela) community project. The Biodiversity Stewardship programme assisted these sites with obtaining proclaimed status as conservation areas and identified and supported a number of specific management interventions including clearing alien invasive plants and assisting with fire management regimes. In 2011, 5 further sites were added to the Stewardship portfolio.
Biodiversity Stewardship Programme Manager
Wildlands Conservation Trust
Tel: 033 239 1888