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Stewardship programme in South Africa - and check out the Gumboot (26/06/08)
Greetings list members:
Working for Wetlands is a highly successful independent programme managed by the South African National Biodiversity Institute on behalf of the Departments of Environmental Affairs & Tourism, Agriculture, and Water Affairs & Forestry. Aside from their considerable achievements in wetland conservation in South Africa, they also communicate well to a broad constituency through a regular email newsletter called Gumboot. The newsletter is very attractive and full of just the right amount of detail to keep you informed AND make sure you keep it on your screen long enough to read it! To subscribe to the email newsletter write to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can check out the newsletters here http://wetlands.sanbi.org/gumboot.php.
From their May newsletter I have taken the information below on an effective stewardship programme that may be of interest of some of you.
“About 80% of South Africa's priority biodiversity is located on private land, which means that if the country is to reach its targets in terms of biodiversity conservation, it is critical to involve private landowners. But unless there are clear benefits for participating landowners, it is not going to be an easy task to encourage land management practices that are in line with conservation needs. One answer to this problem lies in the biodiversity stewardship approaches that are becoming increasingly widespread across South Africa. Biodiversity stewardship provides an innovative and cost-effective way to conserve land in partnership with private landowners, allowing for the management of land outside existing protected areas in a manner that ensures that natural systems, biodiversity and the goods and benefits they provide are conserved, while offering a range of benefits to those landowners.
CapeNature in the Western Cape has already achieved success with its stewardship programmes in many areas including Renosterveld habitat in the Cederberg and Sandveld along the west coast, and now Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife has undertaken to champion the KwaZulu-Natal Biodiversity Stewardship Programme. Under the leadership of Kevin McCann, formerly of the Endangered Wildlife Trust's Crane Working Group, the programme will work in alliance with other conservation bodies, NGO's, honorary officers and landowners in achieving its conservation goals to bring more land, priority species and habitats under conservation management. Resources, time and energy will be focused on areas already identified as priorities, drawing on spatial information available from the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, the South African National Biodiversity Institute, and provincial conservation authorities.
Penny Park, just outside Kokstad, will be one of the first wetland areas to be included in the initiative. There, four landowners have already committed to or declared interest in joining the Stewardship Programme. The idea, says Kevin McCann, is to start by focusing on declaring the core wetland area a nature reserve, "We plan to broaden the stewardship programme in the area later on, but there are different types of land uses and we want to start with the area that's of highest conservation value."
Penny Park wetland is registered as an Important Bird Area by Birdlife South Africa, is a provincially-declared Site of Conservation Significance and is one of 28 priority wetlands in KZN identified through a study undertaken in the 1980s. It is home to the elusive and rare whitewinged flufftail, and recently Critically Endangered wattled crane returned to the wetland, with a pair attempting to nest. It also forms part of the river system from which Kokstad draws its water.
The wetland extends for about 150 ha, but four years ago only 42 ha was functional as a result of being drained for agriculture. Working for Wetlands began rehabilitation work across six properties in 2004, in partnership with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and the Penny Park landowners. Since then R3,5 million has been spent on rehabilitation, using funding provided by the departments of Environmental Affairs & Tourism and Water Affairs & Forestry, and a labour-intensive, skilling approach in line with the Expanded Public Works Programme requirements. A series of concrete structures were built to block drains, halt erosion and return the wetland's water table to previous levels. Since 2005 a total of 35 separate rehabilitation interventions have been implemented, in the process providing 177 temporary work opportunities to local unemployed people, spanning 20,590 job days and 1,185 training days.
WfWet has a comprehensive agreement with partner landowners that contractually obliges them not to engage in any activities that will jeopardise the rehabilitation outcomes. However, except for monitoring, once rehabilitation work is complete there is little ongoing engagement between Working for Wetlands and the landowner around future management and wise use of the rehabilitated wetlands. By including Penny Park into the stewardship programme, says John Dini of WfWet, a greater level of ongoing support is provided to ensure that the rehabilitation work is sustainable into the future, "This will improve the security of our investment in the rehabilitation. Our approach is increasingly to work within larger initiatives, rather than in isolation. We are now exploring how we can contribute to providing incentives for landowners to join stewardship programmes, for example by giving participating landowners preferential access to assistance from WfWet. "
McCann says that, in addition to such support from WfWet and various benefits from improved biodiversity and ecosystem services, Penny Park landowners could benefit in a number of other ways, "We are trying to incentivise good management, and one way of encouraging this is through tax exemptions. If a property or part of a property is declared as a nature reserve, it will be exempt from property rates. We are also negotiating to make sure that participating landowners will have priority access to government assistance on aspects of conservation management such as invasive alien plant clearing, fire management, and appropriate grazing. The Mondi Wetlands Programme has also partnered the Penny Park initiative and is offering guidance to landowners on wise use and protection of wetlands.
The landowner in turn commits legally to manage land sustainably and with conservation as the primary land use. Land is entered into Stewardship on a voluntary basis, and ownership of the land remains with the owner. The National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act and Protected Areas Act will be used to back up the programme, and Stewardship sites will be monitored and audited.
Says McCann, "The Penny Park Stewardship is about securing an ecosystem that has been put back on the road to recovery. The rehabilitation is already a success, but we need to secure the long-term commitment of the landowners to maintaining the wetland's health, and also of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife to support conservation of that site."
For further information on the Stewardship programme, please contact Kevin McCann / Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, KZN Biodiversity Stewardship Programme Manager, Tel: 033-8451805 / Cell: 083-4470657 / email@example.com
With best wishes, Sandra Hails, Ramsar Secretariat
Sandra Hails, CEPA Programme Officer
Ramsar Convention Secretariat
Rue Mauverney 28, CH-1196 Gland, Switzerland
Tel: +41 22 999 0176; Fax: +41 22 999 0169
Web Site: http://ramsar.org
CEPA mini-Web site: http://ramsar.org/outreach_index.htm