Southern Africa and biodiversity conservation
United Nations Environment Programme (Content Partner); Nancy E. Golubiewski (Topic Editor). 2007. "Southern Africa and biodiversity conservation." In: Encyclopedia of Earth. Eds. Cutler J. Cleveland (Washington, D.C.: Environmental Information Coalition, National Council for Science and the Environment). All text is available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license.
Last Updated: April 13, 2007
Southern Africa is a globally recognized centre of biodiversity richness and endemism, as shown in Table 1. The Western Cape, the Karoo, and the Miombo woodlands are of particular significance. Biodiversity underpins the economy, including tourism. Southern Africa has placed increasing importance on conservation and sustainable use and has invested in several initiatives in support of those objectives, notably the transfer of ownership of biodiversity from the state to the private and community sectors as well as the development of transboundary parks.
The current condition and trend of biodiversity has recently been assessed as part of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA): averaged across all terrestrial species of plants and vertebrates, it is estimated that about 84 percent of the pre-colonial populations of wild organisms persisted in the year 2000. The rate of decline in “biodiversity intactness” was about 0.8 percent per year for the 1990s. Most of the organisms that persist occur outside the comprehensive and generally well-run system of protected areas. The various species of fauna and flora found in the vast range of terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems are an important source of food, medicines, research and regional integration through transboundary conservation. They are also an important source of income for communities through community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) programmes.