Threatened Species Programme

Conserving South Africa's Threatened Biodiversity

[About the TSP and CREW] [Red data list info] [Protected plants and permits]
[Student Project Funding Opportunities]

Launched by the NBI in May 2003, the Threatened Species Programme (TSP) aims to facilitate the conservation of South Africa's rare and endangered species. In its initial phase, the project will focus on plant biodiversity, but as the NBI expands to become the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), the TSP will expand to address the full spectrum of biodiversity.

Red List and threats facing SA plant biodiversity
The Threatened Species Programme is in the process of producing a updated and comprehensive national Red List of South Africa plant species which will be available in book and electronic form by March 2006 (see accompanying pages for details). This list will help to prioritise species in need of conservation and will guide conservation planning. Land transformation (e.g. for agriculture, urban spread), over-utilization (e.g. collection for medicinal use or illegal trading), alien plant invasion and climate change are some of threats facing South Africa's plant biodiversity. The Threatened Species Programme is currently researching the impacts of these threats and the effectiveness of strategies minimising their impacts. In order to fully understand how these threats will affect future biodiversity, the programme is developing an "early warning system" to model projected biodiversity threats. This will allow us to advise on pre-emptive measures for minimising biodiversity loss.

One of the greatest challenges facing the Threatened Species Programme is the deficiency of information on rare, remote and newly described species as well as about the impacts of threats in specific areas. The TSP's Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers (CREW) project provides a solution to this problem. CREW is made up largely of members of the public who volunteer to undergo training on plant identification and then collect much-needed data on rare and endangered plants in their local areas. So far 7 interest groups and communities have become involved in this challenging and enjoyable project and are actively participating in the conservation of their plant resources. At present CREW is operating in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga but we're hoping to identify interest groups and volunteers in order to launch projects throughout South Africa during the next 3 years. In the year since CREW was launched, the large amount of momentum, enthusiasm and interest that has been generated amongst communities and landowners is very encouraging.

With the powerful combination of an up-to-date Red List and an understanding of biodiversity threats, the Threatened Species Programme is able to provide guidance and recommendations for conservation decisions. We actively participate in both national and international policy development and initiatives including the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP), CITES, on National Committees of the IUCN and the Biodiversity Working Group , and the Global Strategy on Plant Conservation (Convention on Biological Diversity). The TSP's greatest commitment, however, is to provide reliable, relevant and accessible information to South Africa's policy-makers, conservation organizations, scientific institutions and members of the public.

The Threatened Species Programme is directed by Kristal Maze and John Donaldson. The national team, based in Pretoria, consists of Wendy Foden (programme manager), Mark Keith (researcher), Janine Victor (Red List coordinator) and Deshni Pillay (Red List officer). The national Threatened Species Programme is funded by the Norwegian agency NORAD. The CREW team is lead by Domitilla Raimondo (programme manager) Ismail Ebrahim (coordinator) and Rosanne Stanway(assistant), and 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.

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