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National Institute to Lead Succulent Karoo Programme

A new era in the protection and promotion of the Succulent Karoo

From Conservation International's Southern Africa Hotspots Programme

Knersvlakte, South Africa (March 23, 2005) - The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) - the nation’s new global hub for biodiversity science and coordination - will now also lead a unique programme to conserve the Succulent Karoo.

The Succulent Karoo Ecosystem Programme (SKEP) is a joint South African and Namibian initiative designed to help people both conserve and benefit from the rich natural resources of the Succulent Karoo. A globally recognized biodiversity hotspot, the Succulent Karoo is oone of the biologically richest yet most threatened places on Earth.

SANBI will play the lead role in coordinating the South African part of SKEP, with a focus upon securing national-level support to ensure long-term sustainability for the programme. One of its first tasks will be to formally register SKEP as a bioregional initiative to help align government resources with the needs of the hotspot in ways that will benefit both people and nature.

Now in its second year, SKEP has united more than 500 stakeholders, from government officials to local communities in agreeing the highest priorities for conservation in the region.

The program has also helped the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) provide grants to dozens of non-governmental groups and other partners working to conserve the region. Nearly $5 million of the $8 million CEPF investment planned for the Succulent Karoo Hotspot through 2008 remains available.

SANBI, previously known as the National Botanical Institute, came into being as a result of the promulgation of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, by President Thabo Mbeki in September 2004. Its new expanded mandate includes monitoring, evaluation and reporting on the status of biodiversity in the countrand offers important opportunities to lever SKEP’s success to date.

The SKEP coordination unit will now move to SANBI from its current location at Conservation International (CI), which played a key role in creating and catalyzing SKEP. Last week, CI held a conference with local SKEP partners and implementers to announce this third phase for SKEP and shared lessons about its experience in coordinating the initiative.

“It has been a privilege for CI to host this programme to this point but it is an even greater honour to be handing it over to SANBI and the Namibian Nature Foundation as these are organizations who have demonstrated true commitment to our same core values,” said Sarah Frazee, Conservation International, Director, Southern Africa Hotspots Programme.

“I am confident that within these new institutions, SKEP will continue to flourish and involve people in biodiversity conservation to ensure a sustainable future for generations to come.”

For more information, please contact:
Tessa Mildenhall, Programme Manager, Conservation International, Southern Africa Hotspots Programme, or visit www.skep.org.
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Did You Know?
The Namibian Nature Foundation will soon take charge of coordinating the Succulent Karoo Ecosystem Program in the Namibian portion of the Succulent Karoo Hotspot. Read the story in CEPF E-News.

Learn more about CEPF's work in the biodiversity hotspot in the Succulent Karoo Hotspot section of our Web site.

Visit the News & Feature Archive for this hotspot.

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