During International Biodiversity Day which was celebrated on the 22nd of May 2012, the recently completed South African National Biodiversity Assessment (NBA) 2011 was launched by Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa at iSimangaliso Wetland Park in KwaZulu-Natal.
The development of the NBA 2011 was led by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) in partnership with a range of organisations, including the Department of Environmental Affairs, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the South African National Parks (SANParks).
The NBA 2011 is central to fulfilling SANBI’s mandate in terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (Act 10 of 2004) to monitor and report regularly on the state of biodiversity, and includes two headline indicators that are assessed across all environments: ecosystem threat status and ecosystem protection level. The NBA 2011 provides an assessment of South Africa’s biodiversity and ecosystems, including headline indicators and national maps for the terrestrial, freshwater, estuarine and marine environments.
At the launch minister Molewa said “Our vast wealth of biodiversity offers us a suite of natural solutions in the face of unemployment, rising poverty and climate change.”
The assessment has an emphasis on spatial biodiversity information including species, ecosystems and lays the foundation for effective management of biodiversity and for monitoring our progress against national and global targets. It processes key aspects of South Africa’s biodiversity science and makes the information available in a useful context to policymakers, decision-makers and practitioners in a range of sectors.
The NBA 2011 also deals with species of special concern and invasive alien species, presents new work on geographic areas that contribute to climate change resilience, and provides a summary of spatial biodiversity priority areas that have been identified through systematic biodiversity plans at national, provincial and local scales.
Information from the NBA 2011 can be used to streamline environmental decision-making; strengthen land-use planning; strengthen national development planning and other strategic planning processes; identify priorities for management and restoration of ecosystems; provide initial identification of threatened ecosystems and highlighting areas where more detailed assessment and planning is required. The NBA 2011 will inform the revision and updating of key national biodiversity policies and strategies, including the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, the National Biodiversity Framework and the National Protected Area Expansion Strategy.
Products of the NBA 2011 include a synthesis report, and technical reports for the terrestrial, freshwater, estuarine and marine components. This report and maps can be downloaded from SANBI's BGIS website http://bgis.sanbi.org/nba/project.asp