Biodiversity stewardship provides a powerful new tool to assist national and provincial government in fulfilling its mandate to conserve biodiversity outside of state-owned protected areas. Since acquiring land to expand protected areas is usually too expensive, stewardship provides a cost-effective alternative, by getting landowners to commit to conserving and managing the biodiversity on their own land. This includes private farms, communal lands and land owned by national/provincial government departments, municipalities, parastatals like Eskom and Spoornet and private companies.
One of the components of the C.A.P.E. programme funded from 2004-2009 by the Global Environment Facility through the World Bank, is the Stewardship Programme, co-ordinated in the Western Cape through CapeNature
(which has its own stewardship programme with linked aims) and also working in the Eastern Cape through the Baviaanskloof Mega-reserve Proud Partners' Programme. The Stewardship Programme helps work towards the strategic objective of the C.A.P.E. partnership that all priority biodiversity areas should be secured, have formal status and be managed effectively.
A Stewardship Task Team was designed to generate cooperation across agencies, to incentivise stewardship action and support CapeNature and SANParks in the implementation of stewardship. The partners on the Task Team include: Provincial Departments of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs & Developmental Planning, Department of Water Affairs, SANParks, CapeNature, City Of Cape Town, Botanical Society, Biodiversity and Wine Initiative, Gouritz Initiative, Greater Cederberg Biodiversity Corridor and other task teams of C.A.P.E. The Task Team assisted in finalising the spatial and project targets and aligning resources where possible to facilitate stewardship in the landscape.
Successes to date
- CapeNature has secured 40 Contract Nature Reserves, 12 Biodiversity Agreements and 19 Conservation Areas through the Stewardship Programme.
- The Greater Cederberg Biodiversity Corridor and the Gouritz Corridor have also secured conservation land in the above categories using the stewardship methodology.
- Competent extension staff members have been developed within CapeNature who are able to negotiate legal contracts and provide landowners with ongoing management support.
- Areas of priority biodiversity which provide ecosystem services have been secured, some with potential for tourism-related economic activities.