Threatened Species Programme

Raising facts and awareness to protect South Africa's biodiversity

The NBI has recently launched the Threatened Species Programme (TSP), a 3-year initiative, focusing on the conservation of South Africa's rare and endangered plants.

The project aims to publish a fully updated national Red Data List by 2005 and to make relevant information available in book form as well as via an online database. We have identified several key threats that impact on plant biodiversity, including land transformation (e.g. urban spread), over-utilization (e.g. collection for medicinal use or illegal trading), alien plant invasion and climate change. We aim to evaluate the current impacts of these threats as well as modeling future threats, creating an early warning system for vulnerability to extinction.

As well as making use of currently available data, the Threatened Species Programme will also identify key areas for which data needs to be generated. Based on this, monitoring programmes will be implemented in order to collect data on threats, for Red Data Listing, as well as for collaborative scientific research. These projects also provide a valuable opportunity to involve and enthuse landowners and community and interest groups in the conservation of their plant resources.

The Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers (CREW) is a TSP monitoring programme based in the Cape Floral Region. It aims to raise awareness of threatened plant issues, as well as to collect much-needed data on rare and endangered plants in the region. A number of public groups and communities have already become involved in this challenging project and the enthusiasm and interest generated so far are very encouraging. The valuable insights gained from CREW will help to guide us in the establishment of further public-based monitoring projects across South Africa during the next 3 years.

With the powerful combination of up-to-date Red Data Lists, models of both current and future threats to vulnerable plants and interaction with on-the-ground data collection and monitoring, the Threatened Species Programme will be able to provide valuable guidance and recommendations both for conservation decisions and policy. We plan to contribute the data gained to national plant information bases and to make relevant data available for use by policy-makers, conservation organizations, scientific institutions and members of the public.

The Threatened Species Programme is led by John Donaldson and assisted by Ingrid Nanni. The national team, based in Pretoria, consists of Wendy Foden (programme manager), Mark Keith (researcher), Janine Victor and Deshni Pillay (Red Data List officers).The national Threatened Species Programme is funded by the Norwegian agency NORAD. The CREW team, consisting of Domitilla Raimondo (programme manager) Ismail Ebrahim (coordinator) and Neli Koali (assistant), is based at Kirstenbosch, Cape Town. CREW is a CAPE programme, funded by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund. The Botanical Society of South Africa and Western Cape Nature Conservation Board are also important partners.

For more information on the Threatened Species Program (TSP) and the Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers (CREW), please email us at:

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