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					0               National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan
                          Newsletter February 2004


National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP): Update

The process to develop a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan is gathering momentum. More
than 300 people are already actively engaged, through the Project Steering Committee, Task Teams,
Consultants Teams and Provincial Briefings, while many hundreds more have received newsletters. The
initial start up and stocktaking phase comes to an end at the beginning of March, with the distribution of
a first draft (or “straw dog”) National Biodiversity Strategy. This draft document will serve as the basis
for discussion at the 1st National Workshop on 17 – 18 March 2004 and will in fact be considered a draft
and open to comment while the Action Plan is being developed, during the course of the year.

For those new to the process, here is a quick recap of the process to date:

     Lead Agent: Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT)

As the national department mandated to fulfil South Africa’s obligations to implement the Convention
on Biological Diversity, DEAT is responsible for managing the NBSAP process. The NBSAP project is
funded by the Global Environment Facility, through the United Nations Development Programme. It is
also financed through DEAT itself, while the National Botanical Institute (NBI) is co-funding the
National Conservation Assessment, which is currently being undertaken as part of the NBSAP. The Plant
Protection Research Institute is assisting with development of the strategy and action plan for Invasive
Alien Species, while the NBI is also assisting with stocktaking and assessment of Access and Benefit
Sharing issues. Various national and provincial departments and agencies, as well as NGOs, are also
making a contribution, by covering the costs of attending meetings and contributing to the discussion.
DEAT has appointed a Project Manager to manage the process.

DEAT’s Chief Directorate: Biodiversity and Heritage, recently initiated and managed the process to
promulgate the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Bill. Chapter 3 of the Bill calls for a
National Biodiversity Framework, and DEAT will take responsibility for facilitating the implementation
of the Bill and the NBSAP, as well as ensuring regular monitoring and review of progress in the years to
come.

     Project Steering Committee (PSC)

The first PSC meeting was held on the 23rd July 2003. The meeting approved the process to be followed
in the development of the NBSAP and the terms of reference for the PSC, Task Teams and consultants
for each key thematic area. Further meetings were held on 29th October 2003 and 20th January 2004. The
PSC meets quarterly and is responsible for ensuring that the necessary political and consultative processes
for approval of the NBSAP and its submission to the CBD are followed.

     Task Teams and Consultants

Task Teams and consultants began working on key thematic areas in October 2003 and several joint
workshops have been held (on 09th October 2003, 10th December 2003, 19th January 2004) to identify
cross-cutting issues and ensure integration. A team based at the National Botanical Institute in
Kirstenbosch is working on the National Conservation Assessment, a systematic and scientific
conservation planning exercise, which will assess the status of conservation of our ecosystems and the
effectiveness of the Protected Area system, and identify priority areas for further finer scale planning.
Other teams are working on social aspects of conservation, economics and poverty alleviation, access and
benefit sharing, invasive alien species, sustainable use of biodiversity, policy and legislative issues, and
institutional capacity.

At a workshop held on 19th – 20th February 2004, a straw dog strategy was discussed, which will form the
basis of the National Biodiversity Strategy. This draft document will be distributed to all roleplayers,
stakeholders and interest groups in early March , for further development, so that the strategy reflects the
concerns and priorities of all South Africans and will form the foundation for the consultative
development of the most important part of the NBSAP – an effective and implementable Action Plan.


Phase 1 of the NBSAP: Stocktaking and Assessment

February finds us near the end of phase 1 of the NBSAP project. The contracted consultants will submit
their reports by the end of February, while the first results of the National Conservation Assessment are
due in mid-March.

Although we would have liked more time to carry out these assessments – which are more like a “rapid
appraisal” than a full stocktaking, they nevertheless should be sufficient to inform the National
Biodiversity Strategy – together with the insights gained from the various consultations and the inputs
received from interested stakeholders. These assessments note the underlying causes of biodiversity
decline – particularly social, economic and institutional causes - and seek to identify ways of ensuring
sustainable and equitable use of our rich biological heritage.

The consultants’ reports will be posted on the DEAT web-site (www.deat.gov.za) in early March, as will
the draft Strategy. Inputs and suggestions will be welcomed throughout the course of the year. So if you
are interested, or have a burning concern that should be noted, please let us know!

     Provincial Briefings

The members of the Project Steering Committee representing provincial departments and agencies
responsible for conservation in the various provinces assisted the consultative process by organising a
series of Provincial Briefings during January – March 2004. Provincial briefings were scheduled as
follows: 22nd January in Jonkershoek, Western Cape; 28th January in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal;
03rd February in Bisho, Eastern Cape, 06th February in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, 11th February in
Bloemfontein, Free State, 13th February in Polokwane, Limpopo; 25th February in Johannesburg,
Gauteng; 11th March in Potchefstroom, North West and 12th March in Kimberley, Northern Cape. The
main aim of these provincial briefings was to inform provincial roleplayers and implementing agencies of
the NBSAP process and outcomes and to gather information regarding provincial issues and concerns
and the various planning and reporting initiatives underway in the provinces, such as conservation plans
and State of the Environment Reports.

The Way Forward: Phase 2 of the NBSAP: Strategy

The issues related to biodiversity are complex. To address these issues a mix of interventions are
required. The NBSAP project will formulate workable strategies and action plans specifically focused on
conservation, sustainable use and benefit sharing of biodiversity at all levels.

The project will generate strategy and action plan with the active involvement of the National and
Provincial government and relevant stakeholders including representatives of the local communities.

     The 1st National Workshop 17 – 18 March 2004

The 1st National workshop for the NBSAP is being organized by DEAT, with the objective of presenting
the main findings of the Stocktaking and Assessment Phase, debating and discussing South Africa’s
priorities for biodiversity and strategies to achieve our objectives.

The exact venue is still to be confirmed, but the workshop will be held in Gauteng. Although the NBSAP
budget is limited, we do have sufficient budget to cover the accommodation and workshop costs for
approximately 150 people. We anticipate that government officials, NGOs and most other interested
parties will be able to cover their own travel costs.

The purpose of this workshop is to invite comments on the draft strategy and to help clarify the
methodology of preparing the Action Plan. There will be discussions with stakeholders in each key
thematic area and strategies for “mainstreaming” biodiversity, ensuring institutional effectiveness,
capacity building, ensuring equitable sharing of costs and benefits, conservation of biodiversity in a
network of priority areas and the sustainable use of biological resources will be discussed.

     Communication and participation

Biodiversity stakeholders in all sectors and at all levels - from policy-makers and academics, to developers
and communities, are invited to join in the NBSAP process, and together to formulate practicable
national, provincial and local level action plans for conservation, sustainable use and benefit sharing of
biological resources.

Many individuals and groups have expressed interest in the project, mostly in response to the newsletter.
Although institutional structures to enhance efficiency and coordinate shared responsibilities do exist, the
NBSAP process essentially envisages all participants as equal players, each with a unique contribution.
This is extremely encouraging, as one of the basic efforts of the NBSAP is to access inputs from the
widest possible range of stakeholders who may be directly or indirectly interested in biodiversity.

In order to maximize public awareness of the NBSAP process and also with a view to target specific
stakeholders, we urge interested groups and individuals to creatively utilize the ideas put forward through
the use of traditional forms of communication, outreach initiatives through academic institutions and
many others.

We also challenge NGOs working with communities in conservation and development projects, to assist
us to inform people of the NBSAP and gather their views and suggestions. A comprehensive
communication and participation strategy will be part and parcel of the NBSAP, which should be viewed
as a “living” document, open to regular review and revision. However, we need to initiate this process
now and ensure participation and partnerships between all sectors of society.

Meanwhile, interested groups and individuals are encouraged to participate by sending us your key
concerns, areas of interest and suggestions regarding biodiversity conservation, sustainable use and
benefit sharing. If you have any information you feel would inform the Stocktaking and Assessment,
please send it to us!

Contact the NBSAP Project Manager to find out more:
Ms Bev Geach
Email: bgeach@deat.gov.za
Tel: 012 310 3919

The Directorate: Biodiversity Conservation has appointed an intern to assist with the NBSAP. If you
have received this document, but do not wish to be included on the database; or if you wish to correct or
update your contact details; or suggest names and contact details of others who may be interested, please
contact:
Ms Lactitia Mabadahane
Email: lmabadahane@deat.gov.za
Tel: 012 310 3658


Issued by:
Directorate: Biodiversity Conservation
Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism
P/Bag X 447
Pretoria
0001



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