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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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: email@example.com Tel: 012 310 3658 Issued by: Directorate: Biodiversity Conservation Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism P/Bag X 447 Pretoria 0001 Please pass this document on to others who may be interested.