Picking up the pieces: a biosphere reserve framework for a fragmented landscape – The Coastal Lowlands of the Western Cape, South Africa

Picking up the pieces: a biosphere reserve framework for a fragmented landscape – The Coastal... The coastal lowlands of the Western Cape (CLWC) form part of the fynbos biome, an area renowned for its high levels of plant diversity and endemism. The vegetation of the CLWC has been severely reduced and fragmented, and is currently impacted on by agricultural, pastoral, coastal resort and urban development, as well as alien plant spread. Furthermore, most of the vegetation communities are under-represented within existing protected areas. In response to this urgent need for increased conservation efforts, an initiative to establish a UNESCO-MAB biosphere reserve in the area has been launched. The aim of this project was to use biological criteria to identify areas that could potentially contain the core areas and buffer zones of a biosphere reserve. A reserve selection algorithm was chosen which provides a flexible tool for selecting representative areas for protection. The algorithm is a step-wise heuristic, which has rules for including mandatory polygons, forcing adjacency, including desirable (e.g. Red Data Book plant species) and excluding undesirable features (e.g. bisection by major roads). Farm boundaries (cadastral units) were used as selection units, resulting in a total of 1717 parcels. The selection process was conducted three times with target areas set at 10%, 25% and 50% of the original extent of each vegetation type within the study area. Areas of 62834 ha, 121199 ha and 242397 ha, respectively, or 36% 49% and 76% of the available land in the study area being selected. It is recommended that the area identified as the 50% target area be considered the future site of core areas and buffer zones for the proposed biosphere reserve. The algorithm successfully maintained a high degree of connectivity between selected areas. This is important considering the high levels of plant beta diversity associated with edaphic gradients. Rather than presenting a definitive reserve system, this study provides a tool allowing biological criteria to be included explicitly within the negotiation process. As the biosphere reserve is assembled, priorities can be re-assessed. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Biodiversity and Conservation Springer Journals

Picking up the pieces: a biosphere reserve framework for a fragmented landscape – The Coastal Lowlands of the Western Cape, South Africa

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 1999 by Kluwer Academic Publishers
Subject
Life Sciences; Evolutionary Biology; Tree Biology; Plant Sciences
ISSN
0960-3115
eISSN
1572-9710
D.O.I.
10.1023/A:1008807628092
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The coastal lowlands of the Western Cape (CLWC) form part of the fynbos biome, an area renowned for its high levels of plant diversity and endemism. The vegetation of the CLWC has been severely reduced and fragmented, and is currently impacted on by agricultural, pastoral, coastal resort and urban development, as well as alien plant spread. Furthermore, most of the vegetation communities are under-represented within existing protected areas. In response to this urgent need for increased conservation efforts, an initiative to establish a UNESCO-MAB biosphere reserve in the area has been launched. The aim of this project was to use biological criteria to identify areas that could potentially contain the core areas and buffer zones of a biosphere reserve. A reserve selection algorithm was chosen which provides a flexible tool for selecting representative areas for protection. The algorithm is a step-wise heuristic, which has rules for including mandatory polygons, forcing adjacency, including desirable (e.g. Red Data Book plant species) and excluding undesirable features (e.g. bisection by major roads). Farm boundaries (cadastral units) were used as selection units, resulting in a total of 1717 parcels. The selection process was conducted three times with target areas set at 10%, 25% and 50% of the original extent of each vegetation type within the study area. Areas of 62834 ha, 121199 ha and 242397 ha, respectively, or 36% 49% and 76% of the available land in the study area being selected. It is recommended that the area identified as the 50% target area be considered the future site of core areas and buffer zones for the proposed biosphere reserve. The algorithm successfully maintained a high degree of connectivity between selected areas. This is important considering the high levels of plant beta diversity associated with edaphic gradients. Rather than presenting a definitive reserve system, this study provides a tool allowing biological criteria to be included explicitly within the negotiation process. As the biosphere reserve is assembled, priorities can be re-assessed.

Journal

Biodiversity and ConservationSpringer Journals

Published: Sep 29, 2004

References

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