Bioregional programmes and related initatives

Bioregional conservation planning and implementation has been initiated in South Africa through programmes like the Cape Action Plan for the Environment (C.A.P.E.), the Subtropical Thicket Ecosystem Planning (STEP) and the Succulent Karoo Ecosystem Programme (SKEP) initiatives. SANBI houses the implementation unit of the C.A.P.E. programme and is involved in both the STEP and SKEP programmes. These programmes involve a systematic conservation planning phase and implementation of these plans through projects with participating stakeholders.

SANBI hosts bimonthly information and lesson sharing sessions for the SKEP, STEP and C.A.P.E. bioregional programmes. A bioregional newsletter is being developed and the programmes are collaborating on the development of a monitoring and evaluation system for bioregional initiatives.

A new multi-stakeholder bioregional initiative has recently been put into action in the form of the National Grassland Biodiversity Initiative. The aim of this initiative is to promote the conservation of the grassland biome in South Africa. In the Eastern Cape, a Bioregional Programmes Co-ordination Unit has been established to guide the implementation of bioregional programmes in the Eastern Cape region.

National Grassland Biodiversity Initiative

The grassland biome is the most threatened biome in South Africa. A Grassland Forum was initiated in 2002, which brought together various role-players from across provincial boundaries. This Forum has now requested that SANBI lead a National Grassland Biodiversity Initiative and develop appropriate programmes within the grassland biome. The goal of this initiative is to ensure that ecological services provided by the grasslands are sustained now and into the future, contributing to economic development and poverty alleviation. Grasslands are important for economic development but this development also threatens the grasslands. As such the initiative will follow a strategic approach of mainstreaming biodiversity in production landscapes and sectors including agriculture, forestry and urban sectors.

Eastern Cape Bioregional Programmes Co-ordination Unit

A Bioregional Programmes Co-ordination Unit has been established in Port Elizabeth due to a request from stakeholders in the Eastern Cape. C.A.P.E., STEP and SKEP intersect in the region and there are a number of associated fine-scale projects. This requires a co-ordinated response from authorities and land-managers. The region has a lower capacity compared to some of the other centres. However, it is biologically rich, and includes 7 biomes, and therefore the co-ordination within the programmes is of particular importance. The inaugural implementation initiative of STEP, the Great Fish River Biodiversity Initiative (FRBI), funded by the Department of Economic Affairs, Environment and Tourism, is currently underway.

The roles and responsibilities of the Bioregional Programmes Co-ordination Unit include:

  • The co-ordination of implementation strategies and action plans for C.A.P.E., STEP and SKEP bioregional programmes, and associated fine-scaled projects, in the regions from the Gouritz River in the west to the Kei River in the east.
  • To contribute to the identification of institutional arrangements for the future management of the integrated bioregional programmes in the Eastern Cape
  • To facilitate the interaction of CAPE, STEP and SKEP, through interaction with the project management teams and SANBI
  • To facilitate the establishment of the Eastern Cape Implementation Committee (or other appropriate structure), to provide secretariat support to the Committee and a focal point for Eastern Cape implementing agencies
  • To co-ordinate the involvement of stakeholder organizations and individuals in the preparation and submission of requests for programmatic support
  • To facilitate the development of partnerships among implementing agencies for priority actions with the implementation strategies and action plans of the bioregional programmes
  • To support partners in proposal development for programme and project funds
  • To facilitate communication with all stakeholders in the regions.

The Unit, together with the WESSA Biodiversity Conservation Unit (WESSA BCU) and the Mazda Wildlife Fund, has launched the Capacity Building Project for Eastern Cape Land Use Planners and Decision-makers. This is a two-year initiative that commenced in September 2004. The aim is to empower land use planners and decision-makers to make wise and informed decisions about land use and sustainable development.


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