The 12th of February this year marked the ten year anniversary of the Donor Council of the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund’s (CEPF’s) decision to approve an $8 million investment strategy to support civil society efforts to undertake conservation initiatives in the Succulent Karoo Hotspot.
Based on the results of the SKEP participatory process that took place in 2002, the CEPF Ecosystem Profile describes the biodiversity within the Succulent Karoo and various pressures that are impacting its survival. It was at this time that the key components of the SKEP programme between 2003 and 2008 were defined. The strategy called for targeted investments to be made to expand protected area corridors through public private communal partnership and to increase awareness of the unique biodiversity of the Succulent Karoo.
As detailed in the CEPF ecosystem profile for this hotspot, local and global awareness of the significance and value of the Succulent Karoo was been low. To meet this challenge, CEPF awarded 89 grants valued at $7.9 million from 2003 to 2008 to civil society groups to help conserve the region’s rich biodiversity. These organizations also leveraged an additional $4.5 million for conservation in the hotspot.
The CEPF investment has played a fundamental role in raising the profile of the Succulent Karoo. This in turn has led to greater conservation interest and action, although the region remains under threat. Like many remote and arid areas in the world, the region suffers from lack of popular understanding of its ecological value, low institutional capacity and poverty. As compared to the Western Cape province of South Africa, the Northern Cape and the broader area of Namaqualand in which much of the Succulent Karoo lies, has greater poverty, lower levels of education and skills, and higher levels of unemployment.
Guided by the 20 year strategy and with vital funding from CEPF, projects and scientific research have been successfully implemented. Today the SKEP is characterised by a thriving partnership at work who are committed towards the SKEP vision, increasing local, national and international awareness of the unique biodiversity of the Succulent Karoo, expanding protected areas, improving conservation management, supporting the creation of a matrix of harmonious land uses and improving institutional co-ordination to generate momentum for partnerships, and to ensure programme sustainability.
For more information on the CEPF go to www.cepf.net