A pioneering team of more than 30 individuals from 15 institutions in Namibia and South Africa are working together to establish a common vision and strategy among diverse stakeholders for conservation of the Succulent Karoo biodiversity hotspot.
The project team has gathered biodiversity and land-use data for the entire region, which stretches more than 100,000 square kilometers across South Africa and Namibia. More than 60 scientific experts and 300 individuals representing communal land authorities, commercial farmers, mining companies, tourism interests, local government and conservation authorities helped map the current distribution of their land use and where they expect it would be by the year 2010—vital information that helped determine conservation priority areas.
This model of innovation incorporated awareness-raising, training and partnerships as part of the process to develop an overarching plan and ultimately contribute to its effective implementation.
The project team, facilitated by Conservation International as part of CEPF preparations to expand to the hotspot, included special advisors and four coordinating organizations: the Botanical Society of South Africa, Eco-Africa Environmental Consultants, the Institute for Plant Conservation and the National Botanical Institute. It also included 10 conservation champions, well-connected and respected individuals with biodiversity or social development expertise who raised awareness about the process and gathered vital information within their own communities.
In August, more than 70 representatives of local, provincial and national government agencies, nongovernmental organizations and academic institutions from Namibia and South Africa participated in a consensus-building process to develop a final action plan. The results of this workshop and other activities of the project team will ultimately result in a framework for conservation of the hotspot and a foundation for an ecosystem profile—a strategy document that would guide CEPF investments in the region once approved by the CEPF Donor Council.