Abstract: Evaluation is important for judiciously allocating limited conservation resources and for improving conservation success through learning and strategy adjustment. We evaluated the application of systematic conservation planning goals and conservation gains from incentive‐based stewardship interventions on private land in the Cape Lowlands and Cape Floristic Region, South Africa. We collected spatial and nonspatial data (2003–2007) to determine the number of hectares of vegetation protected through voluntary contractual and legally nonbinding (informal) agreements with landowners; resources spent on these interventions; contribution of the agreements to 5‐ and 20‐year conservation goals for representation and persistence in the Cape Lowlands of species and ecosystems; and time and staff required to meet these goals. Conservation gains on private lands across the Cape Floristic Region were relatively high. In 5 years, 22,078 ha (27,800 ha of land) and 46,526 ha (90,000 ha of land) of native vegetation were protected through contracts and informal agreements, respectively. Informal agreements often were opportunity driven and cheaper and faster to execute than contracts. All contractual agreements in the Cape Lowlands were within areas of high conservation priority (identified through systematic conservation planning), which demonstrated the conservation plan's practical application and a high level of overlap between resource investment (approximately R1.14 million/year in the lowlands) and priority conservation areas. Nevertheless, conservation agreements met only 11% of 5‐year and 9% of 20‐year conservation goals for Cape Lowlands and have made only a moderate contribution to regional persistence of flora to date. Meeting the plan's conservation goals will take three to five times longer and many more staff members to maintain agreements than initially envisaged.
Conservation Biology – Wiley
Published: Oct 1, 2010
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