International Day for Biological Diversity - solutions in (South Africa’s) nature. - News | DEA&DP

International Day for Biological Diversity - solutions in (South Africa’s) nature.

22 May 2020

The Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning will be celebrating and supporting International Day for Biological Diversity (22 May 2020) with a focus on our Biodiversity Spatial Plan handbook which guides planning while protecting the remaining biodiversity in the Province for the continued enjoyment and benefit to its residents, tourists and industries.

The Western Cape Biodiversity Spatial Plan (BSP) was developed by CapeNature and contains critical spatial planning tools and information designed to enable the protection of the Province’s priority biodiversity areas and ecological infrastructure whilst enabling sustainable development. The Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning together with CapeNature will implement the BSP through ongoing technical support and capacity building, engaging priority sectors, such as agriculture and other partners across the province.

The BSP spatial layer and guidebook is the product of a systematic biodiversity planning process that outlines areas that are critical to the continued functioning of our ecological systems, and which need to be safeguarded. The BSP is designed to provide spatial information that assists decision making regarding land use and environmental management. This resource is available to communities, landowners and the general public via CapeFarmMapper

The Western Cape Province alone has numerous critically endangered and vulnerable ecosystems listed in national policy, with one of the highest concentrations of threatened ecosystems countrywide. “International Day for Biological Diversity highlights how healthy ecosystems mitigate the worst impacts of climate change and related disasters, particularly in buffering flood events and improving the reliability of an unpredictable water supply,” said Karen Shippey, Chief Director of Environmental Sustainability at DEA&DP.

She adds: “This year’s theme - Our Solutions Are In Nature – unpacks how ecosystems provide us with goods and services all the time free of charge – things such as food and water security, flood control, fire risk reduction, clean air, medicinal value, as well as recreational, cultural and spiritual value - but only if these systems are healthy and functioning.” 

The Cape Floristic Region’s ecosystem services economic value contributes billions each year to the Gross Domestic Product of the Western Cape, including direct fruitful opportunities through our biodiversity economy.  “Our Department recognises that prioritising investment in restoring and maintaining ecosystems will help maintain these ecosystem services.” Key to realising this is the implementation of an Ecological Infrastructure Investment Framework to ensure that our investments in rehabilitation of ecosystems and in particular, strategic water sources, future-proof our communities in responding to multiple climate risks such as drought, fire, flooding and land degradation.

An example of a project that highlights the stimulation of the biodiversity economy is the Bitou Agroforestry project, which provides support to local communities in building businesses that make use of indigenous natural products. Two businesses that have grown out of this project are the Ericaville Community Trust Farm and Harkerville Agri and Forestry Projects, who participate in the biodiversity economy through the cultivation of Honeybush and other indigenous species.  In partnership with the Bitou Municipality, local NPO’s and the community – these projects create job opportunities while developing a sustainable local economy.

Anton Bredell, the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Development Planning and Local Government, adds: “Through the Biodiversity Spatial Plan and its detailed mapping system we can sustainably develop and support local livelihoods and food supply provided by the Province’s ecosystems.  Our policies are underpinned by the principle of sustainable development which aims to ensure that all development serves the needs of the present generation without compromising those of future generations.”