Theme 3

Biodiversity and conservation planning

The objective of Theme 3 is to conserve biodiversity and sustainably manage high-priority ecosystems in Olifants sub-catchment.

The sub-catchment of the Olifants River contains unique biodiversity, both within and outside Protected Areas. In addition to the biological value of these areas in their own right, they are critical for the regulation of ecological services such as climate regulation, water flows, the provision of natural resources, and livelihood strategies dependent on these services. This theme will explore ways of managing natural resources in order to build a resilient system.

A number of work packages each with an outcome, activities and outputs are planned for Theme 3.

Work packages under Theme 3:

• Development of multiple1, systemic criteria with stakeholders to identify areas of significant biodiversity importance so as to support a more systemic understanding of biodiversity issues in the region;
• conducting biodiversity threat assessments as well as scenario development against these assessments;
• identifying and supporting strategies and practices that respond to biodiversity threats (above) and to support the implementation of these strategies and practices i.e. institutionalizing practices
• supporting existing and emerging institutional arrangements to increase areas under improved natural resource management i.e protected area management and expansion.

Details of each of these is provided below:
1. The development of a systemic framework for biodiversity and conservation management
A key focus of this theme is to work with stakeholders in the development of a systemic framework supported by stakeholder-derived criteria to identify priority natural resource management areas, threatened ecosystems and species, and indicators for assessing land-use practices. The framework will be informed by:
• principles and processes developed collaboratively with stakeholders and drawing on integrated systems approaches such as integrated water resources management (IWRM) and the emerging integrated natural resources management (INRM) orientation in the region;
• systemic integration of spatial priorities as informed by Systematic Conservation Planning (which include Biodiversity Sector Plans) and other spatially referenced instruments (such as the Threatened Ecosystems Classes, land cover assessments, land-use zoning, biodiversity and ecosystem services assessments);
The framework will be tested so as to inform multiple-scenario development and multi-sectoral prioritization of biodiversity, ecosystem services and land use and management options.
2. Biodiversity threat assessments and scenario development
A biodiversity threats assessment will be developed under the framework and be further informed by the contextual profiling of the catchment (undertaken under Theme 1).
3. Strategies and practices for responding to biodiversity threats
The framework will be used in the identification of strategies and practices that support transboundary natural resource management and biodiversity conservation so as to improve systemic resilience. Part of this will be to understand natural resource governance and land use practices and mitigation of associated risks.
4. Arrangements for institutionalising biodiversity planning and conservation
The intention is to strengthen existing and emerging institutional arrangements and actions through aligning current management practices with emerging resilience and sustainability principles.