The 2012 Biodiversity Planning Forum (BPF), co-hosted by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and the South African National Parks (SANParks),took place from the 22nd to the 25th of May, at Kruger National Park. This year’s theme was Planning for implementation and attracted over 180 participants including practitioners, scientists, managers, national, provincial and local government, conservation NGOs, universities, research institutions as well as biodiversity planning consultants.
This annual national forum focuses on systematic biodiversity planning. Much of the biodiversity planning completed in South Africa underpins strategic interventions and supports improved environmental decision-making.
Established in 2004, the BPF provides an opportunity for individuals, agencies and departments involved in spatial biodiversity planning to share and synthesise valuable lessons from biodiversity planning projects across South Africa. The Forum also encourages students and interns to participate. This year observed over 20 students in attendance with support provided by DEA and SANBI.
The Biodiversity Planning Forum is a fantastic opportunity to meet and interact with fellow biodiversity planners and implementers, especially if you are a biodiversity planner based all the way in Springbok. In attendance at the Forum was Northern Cape Department of Environment and Nature Conservation (DENC) biodiversity planner Enrico Oosthuysen. It’s the one event Oosthuysen is sure of to get exposure to cutting edge technology, new planning methodology and information, and countless opportunities to share biodiversity planning knowledge under one roof.
“The forum provided me with an opportunity to build relationships and share knowledge with colleagues from other provinces and tertiary institutions.” said Oosthuysen. “So many people approached me to offer assistance after my presentation on the development plans for the Northern Cape Biodiversity Plan. The support from everybody was overwhelming. “
Each year the Forum identifies key issues that are then presented, discussed and debated in plenary and parallel sessions. This year the Forum focused on:
Mining and biodiversity which stimulated discussion on a more strategic approach to integrating biodiversity issues into mining to ensure a more sustainable future;
Mapping ecological infrastructure for ecosystem services which started to identify the key knowledge gaps and devise a strategic way forward for addressing these;
Invasive alien species management which saw a productive discussion on strategic issues for more effective planning and management of invasive alien species, especially those that impact on ecosystem service delivery; and
Climate change adaptation and biodiversity planning where examples showing some of the current thinking, approaches and methodologies used in incorporating climate change adaptation into biodiversity planning were discussed.
Other sessions featured at the Forum included a plenary on new national biodiversity plans and assessments where the highlights from the recently completed National Biodiversity Assessment (NBA) 2011 as well as other national biodiversity planning products were presented; Taking stock of our protected area estate where work on the development of DEA’s spatial database on protected areas was presented and discussed.