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The KwaZulu-Natal Biodiversity Stewardship Programme (KZN BSP) has adopted a piloting approach in its first years of operations. During this period, the programme will focus on eight pilot sites, of differing tenures and land-uses, with a view of developing the methodology of the programme and learning about issues relating to the implementation of stewardship. After the pilot phase is complete, the programme will be extended more broadly across the province.
Potential stewardship sites from across the province were identified through: 1) requests at Regional Operations Committees (ROC) for information on potential sites from the three regions, and 2) interviews with a subset of Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife (EKZNW) officials involved with stewardship related activities. A total of 171 sites were identified as potential pilot sites. These included Sites of Conservation Significance (SoCS), Natural Heritage Sites (NHS), Private Nature Reserves, Conservancies, Community Conservation Areas (CCA’s), land set aside to offset biodiversity loss to development and land required to be proclaimed as a condition of Records of Decisions (RoD’s).
The following criteria for site selection were identified by the KZN BSP unit:
1. Conservation value of the property – the KZN BSP must contribute to the achievement of biodiversity conservation targets and must secure areas that are important for conservation. Sites with high conservation significance should thus be prioritized over sites with low conservation significance.
2. Landowner’s willingness to participate in the KZN BSP – given the short duration of the pilot phase of the KZN BSP, it is important for the programme to initially work with willing landowners. The transaction costs associated with obtaining stewardship agreements from willing landowners are likely to be far lower than those associated with unwilling landowners. As the programme matures, and after its methodology has been developed and incentives have been secured, we may seek to find ways to incorporate land owned by less-willing landowners.
3. The urgency for the KZN BSP to engage with the site – this criterion prioritizes sites where early engagement by the programme is crucial for success (e.g. sites where biodiversity may be lost without urgent intervention should be prioritized over sites where the biodiversity is not threatened. Additionally, sites where landowners expectations have been raised, and there is a danger of their interest waning, should be prioritized over sites where the landowners’ expectations have not been raised).
4. The presence or absence of an external facilitator – an external facilitator (such as a consultant or involved NGO) may be able to assist the KZN BSP in the development of stewardship agreements and management plans. Sites with external facilitators should be prioritized over sites that do not have external facilitators.
5. The opinion of EKZNW officials on the suitability of sites as pilots – EKZNW officials may have knowledge of why certain sites are suitable / unsuitable as pilot sites for the programme. Such information may not be captured by the other criteria. Sites that EKZNW officials regard as good candidates for pilot sites should be prioritized over sites that EKZNW officials do not regard as good candidates for pilot sites.
6. The property size – it may be more efficient in terms of target achievement (i.e. amount of biodiversity secured in relation to transaction costs per site) to work with larger properties than smaller properties.
Identify pilot site categories (tenure and land-use categories) -
In order for the KZN BSP to gain an understanding of implementing stewardship in varying contexts, the pilot sites should reflect an array of tenure and land-use categories. The KZN BSP unit identified the following pilot site categories:
- Private land with conservation-compatible land-uses
- Private agricultural land
- Communal land
- Forestry land
- State-owned land
- Land required to be proclaimed as a condition of Records of Decisions
Specific pilot sites were selected based on their biodiversity value (irreplaceability), landowner willingness, and their urgency for protection. A simple multi-criteria decision analysis model was developed to assist with the selection of the pilot site as indicated in the map below.