Mainstreaming biodiversity

What we do

Mainstreaming biodiversity involves incorporating biodiversity considerations directly into the policies and planning of business or industry and organs of state. Mainstreaming biodiversity ensures that addressing development needs and protecting the environment is not an either-or situation, but rather that development is supported by the sustainable use of natural resources.

South Africa has several attributes that make biodiversity mainstreaming an appropriate strategy for the conservation and sustainable use of the natural environment. The country’s economy is heavily dependent on natural resources and under immense pressure to provide jobs and address high levels of poverty and inequality; and there is a need to deliver vital services such as clean water, clean air, provision of food security and fertile soil.

SANBI, through specific programmes of work, has mainstreamed biodiversity into production sectors as well as local government thus addressing issues of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation.

Where we work

SANBI’s mainstreaming work is focused on particular production sectors as well as decision-making processes within local government. Through the Grasslands Programme there has been a focus on the coal mining, agriculture and forestry sectors within the grassland biome as well as local government through the programmes' urban component. A number of other programmes like the Fynbos Programme, Succulent Karoo Programme and Municipal Programme have also contributed to SANBI’s mainstreaming work through the development of tools and guidelines, pilot projects and training opportunities that focus on incorporating biodiversity considerations into policies, planning and decision-making processes of production sectors and/or organs of state.

Reason for our programme

Biodiversity mainstreaming in South Africa is underpinned by a strong foundation in systematic biodiversity planning. This approach enables the identification of biodiversity priority areas and informs management actions as well as policy priorities. Systematic biodiversity planning helps to prioritise the investment of limited conservation resources, and focuses these resources on the priority areas for biodiversity across the landscape. By understanding that some areas are more important than others for biodiversity management it facilitates a landscape approach to balancing conservation and development imperatives.

What we have achieved

Notable achievement has been seen in shaping policies and regulations, improving existing institutional capacity, developing high-quality science-based tools, and implementing pilot projects demonstrating biodiversity gains across sectors. Through the Grassland Programme, of particular significance is the experience from the mining and plantation forestry sectors. In these sectors, deeper engagement has enabled the development of integrated tools and products that help to ensure that:

  • biodiversity issues are consistently incorporated into decision-making processes for new mining and forestry projects;
  • high priority areas for biodiversity or ecosystem services are avoided;
  • in the case of mining, residual impacts are offset;
  • proactive stewardship secures landscapes of high importance for biodiversity, food and water provisioning.

How to contact us

For more information on the mainstreaming programmes of work please contact Kennedy Nemutamvuni.

Last updated on 12 June 2014
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