South Africa’s wildlife conservation is guided by a number of policies and strategies including the White Paper on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of South Africa’s Biological Diversity of 1997, the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan of 2005, the National Biodiversity Framework of 2008 and the National Protected Area Expansion Strategy also of 2008, among others.
The Environmental Management Policy for South Africa is an overarching framework policy to guide conservation and management of the environment in the country. The main goal of the policy is sustainable development. The seven strategic goals of the policy are effective institutional frameworks and legislation, sustainable resource use and impact management, holistic and integrated planning and management, participation and partnerships in environmental governance, empowerment and environmental education, information management for sustainable development and international cooperation.
The White Paper on Conservation and Sustainable Use of South Africa’s Biological Diversity (Biodiversity Policy) is the main policy dealing with wildlife conservation. The Policy was adopted in 1997 to provide the context within which to achieve the three objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in South Arica. The objectives of the CBD are the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of biological resources and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.
The Biodiversity Policy intends to achieve these objectives through six goals. These are conserving South Africa’s biodiversity, using biological resources sustainably and minimising adverse impacts on biodiversity, ensuring that benefits derived from the use and development of South Africa’s genetic resources serve national interests, expanding the human capacity to conserve biodiversity, managing its use and addressing factors threatening it, creating and implementing conditions and incentives that support the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and promoting the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity at the international level.
The Policy is to be implemented by a variety of agencies, from national through to provincial and local level. This means that cooperative governance within national, provincial, and local spheres is necessary. Cross-sectoral cooperation within each sphere of government will also be crucial, given that biodiversity issues are of relevance to virtually every government institution.
For purpose of its implementation, the policy identified gaps within existing legislation as being lack of an integrated and holistic approach to biodiversity and new approaches to biodiversity conservation in the CBD which have yet to be uniformly reflected by South African legislation. Another major gap is the general lack of attention given to biodiversity outside of Protected Areas and specifically to landscapes and ecosystems outside protected areas. To close these gaps, the Biodiversity Policy adopts an approach which is holistic and integrated, requiring the adoption of legal measures to ensure the protection of identified species, ecosystems and habitat types outside of protected areas.
The priority actions under the Biodiversity Policy include the drafting of an action plan through which detailed implementation strategies can be developed. This action plan will form an essential component of the National Environmental Strategic Action Plan .
South Africa’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan was formulated and adopted in 2005 to set out a framework and a plan of action for the conservation and sustainable use of the country’s biological diversity and the equitable sharing of benefits derived from this use. The goal of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan is to conserve and manage terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity in order to ensure sustainable and equitable benefits to the people of South Africa, now and in the future.
In support of this goal, five key strategic objectives have been identified, each with a number of outcomes and activities. The objectives are, to have in place an enabling policy and legislative framework which integrates biodiversity management objectives into the economy, to enhance institutional effectiveness and efficiency for good governance in the biodiversity sector, to have integrated terrestrial and aquatic management which minimises the impacts of threatening processes on biodiversity, enhances ecosystem services and improves social and economic security, to ensure human development and well-being is enhanced through sustainable use of biological resources and equitable sharing of the benefits and to create a network of conservation areas that conserve a representative sample of biodiversity and maintain key ecological processes across the landscape and seascape.
The National Biodiversity Framework was adopted in 2009 to provide a framework to co-ordinate and align the efforts of the many organisations and individuals involved in conserving and managing South Africa’s biodiversity, in support of sustainable development. It is a short to medium-term tool whose aim is not to be comprehensive, but rather to focus collective attention and effort on the set of activities that will make the most difference. The National Biodiversity Framework is a requirement of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act and aims to focus attention on the most urgent strategies and actions required for conserving and managing South Africa’s biodiversity. It points to roles and responsibilities of key stakeholders, including key organs of state whose mandates impact directly on biodiversity conservation and management.
The National Biodiversity Framework draws out the immediate priorities for the next five years within each of the strategic objectives of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan. 33 priority actions have been identified. The implementation of these priority actions is the joint responsibility of a range of lead agents and supporting partners, with the Department of Environmental Affairs and the South African National Biodiversity Institute playing a co-ordinating role in addition to implementing specific Priority Actions. The intended users of the National Biodiversity Framework include state organs, government led programmes, NGOs and the private sector.