There is an obvious need to incorporate biodiversity concerns into the policies and practices of sectors that operate outside protected areas, especially given the widespread devolution of power to local (municipal) authorities regarding land-use decision-making. Consequently, it is essential that we develop systematic (target-driven) conservation planning products that are both user-friendly and user-useful for local government officials, their consultants and the elected decision makers. Here, we describe a systematic conservation planning assessment for South Africa’s Subtropical Thicket Biome that considered implementation opportunities and constraints from the outset by developing – with stakeholders – products (maps and guidelines) that could be readily used for local government land-use planning. The assessment, with concomitant stakeholder input, developed (i) Megaconservancy Networks, which are large-scale conservation corridors of multiple ownership that achieve targets principally for biodiversity processes; (ii) conservation status categories (critically endangered, endangered, vulnerable, currently not vulnerable) for all biodiversity features, identified on the basis of available extant habitat to achieve conservation targets, and (iii) a conservation priority map which integrates (i) and (ii). This map was further interpreted for municipal-level decision-makers by way of corresponding guidelines for land-use in each of the conservation status categories. To improve general awareness of the value of biodiversity and its services, a handbook was compiled, which also introduced new and impending environmental legislation. Within 18 months of the production of these products, evidence of the effective integration, or mainstreaming, of the map and its guidelines into land-use planning has been encouraging. However, more effort on increasing awareness of the value of biodiversity and its services among many stakeholder groups is still required. Nonetheless, our approach of planning for implementation by considering the needs and obligations of end users has already yielded positive outcomes. We conclude by providing suggestions for further improving our approach.
Biological Conservation – Elsevier
Published: Oct 1, 2005
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