South Africa’s Cape Floral Region (CFR) is one of the world’s great centres of terrestrial biodiversity. It is home to nearly 20% of Africa’s flora, while covering less than 0.5% of the continent’s area. The wetlands in this sensitive area face particular threats, including from development and agriculture, as the region is also home to farms growing around 95% of South Africa’s wine. On-farm conservation measures are therefore vital to protect the outstanding diversity, density and endemism of the biodiversity of the CFR.
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Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) was established in 1998 when land and resources were transferred from the City of Cape Town to SANParks. It is one of the world's most biodiverse and dramatically beautiful urban national parks, set entirely within a metropolitan Cape Town. The primary solution ensuring equitable access was the requirement in the founding agreements that the TMNP would forever be an “Open Access” national park. This came about through citizens insisting that most of the park remain free to the public, with only four sections where entrance fees are paid (Swanepoel 2013).
Many, if not most, extractive and industrial companies own portions of undisturbed or less disturbed landscapes which are not actively utilized for the company’s core business. By consolidating such areas, establishing their potential ecological contribution, initiating projects to improve the present ecological state and managing these lands as a protected area, such lands can contribute significantly to the sustainability profile of a company.
The Biodiversity Stewardship Programme was designed to promote a range of private landowners protection and sustainable management needs. The Programme consists of a range of applicable negotiated management plans and contracts, and in the protected areas categories, title deed restrictions. Categories include the highest category of nature reserve, which is designed to secure private nature reserves, and give them the same legal security as state-owned protected areas.
The biodiversity assets of Southern Africa are globally recognized as exceptional. The protection of these unique landscapes, and their associated flora and fauna, is a high priority on the political and sustainability agenda. The Diamond Route project demonstrates that, regardless of the industry, businesses need not impose a limit on their efforts to contribute positively to the creation, expansion, conservation, management and restoration of Southern Africa's natural capital base.
BirdLife South Africa coordinates the Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) Programme (a BirdLife International Programme) in South Africa, which are priority sites specifically for birds, but also for other biodiversity. IBAs more often than not include privately owned, multiple-use landscapes, supporting biodiversity, people and development. Of South Africa’s 122 IBAs, more than 60% is unprotected. One of the biggest challenges for BirdLife South Africa is to obtain legal protection to safe guard IBAs from unsustainable development.