The critical natural capital of the Buffalo City Municipality, South Africa : harnessing local action for biodiversity conservation.

Hagen, Brett
Grahamstown, Rhodes University, Environmental Sciences
Publication Year: 
Globally, ecosystems provide services of almost twice the value of global gross national product (Costanza et al., 2006). The Buffalo City Municipality (BCM), South Africa contains biodiversity of national and international importance (Pierce, 2003; Pierce et al., 2005). Despite this, the municipality continues to experience loss of both urban and rural biodiversity (Buffalo City Municipality, 2006a). This study sought to determine the status of biodiversity, and the potential for ecosystem services to contribute to conservation, within the BCM. Biodiversity features, including ecosystem type, species of special concern and biodiversity processes, were identified and mapped using a GIS to produce a biodiversity priority index for the BCM. Current transformation status was then mapped to determine the level of ecosystem degradation within the BCM. Priority biodiversity areas as well as individual biodiversity features were spatially overlain against current transformation status and protected areas and analysed using a GIS to determine the level of degradation and protection of BCM biodiversity. In total 3.5% of total BCM biodiversity was protected. Of the 24 ecosystem types, 11 (45%) had less then 1% under protection, while 16 (67%) had less than five percent protected. Not restorable areas, thus completely lost to biodiversity conservation, comprised just less than a quarter of the total BCM area while un-impacted areas comprised just 12.3%. Twenty five ecosystem services were identified as being provided by intact natural ecosystems within the BCM. The natural capital providing these services was identified and mapped to produce an ecosystem service index (ESI) using a GIS. This ecosystem service index and the biodiversity priority index were overlain to determine their level of correlation. Overall ESI correlation with priority biodiversity was weak although several individual ecosystem services, including carbon sequestration, showed correlation. Using the above data layers an implementation plan and conservation framework was proposed to assist the coordination of local conservation action within the BCM. It is concluded that ecosystem services are a potentially useful tool for conservationists at the local level seeking to ensure that biodiversity has relevance to and receives protection from broader society.
Resource Type: 
Document Type: 
Working Paper
Grassland Society of Southern Africa

The Grassland Society of Southern Africa (GSSA) is involved and concerned with the science and practice of range and pasture management. This broad field involves primarily the use and conservation of natural resources. It encompasses applied fields such as livestock production, wildlife management, nature conservation, water catchment management and range and mine-dump rehabilitation. The disciplines include, amongst others, ecology, botany zoology, range and pasture science, animal science, soil science and genetics. This collection includes journal articles from the African Journal of Range and Forage Science as well as related articles and reports from throughout the Southern African region.