Managing a threatened savanna ecosystem(KwaZulu-Natal Sandstone Sourveld) in an urban biodiversity hotspot: Durban, South Africa
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Background: The city of Durban in the province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), South Africa, falls within a global biodiversity hotspot. KwaZulu-Natal Sandstone Sourveld (KZNSS) is a savanna vegetation type endemic to KZN. KZNSS is endangered; about 90% has been totally modified and 0.1% of the original extent is adequately protected. In response, eThekwini Municipality, Durban’s local government authority, has developed approaches to improve the conservation status of KZNSS and other biodiversity. Objectives: To describe eThekwini Municipality’s work in contributing to securing and managing KZNSS and other biodiversity. This information will contribute to an increased understanding of local government’s role in biodiversity conservation and should be relevant to other local governments as well. Method: Statistics from the municipality’s GIS database and work done and insights gained over about 30 years are presented. Results: By 2012, about 54% of Durban’s original vegetation was transformed and a further 17% was highly degraded. Combined efforts have resulted in 3.06% of the eThekwini Municipal Area enjoying some form of legal protection for environmental purposes with proclaimed protected areas covering 0.6% of the municipal area. Nearly 8% of areas identified as environmentally significant by the municipality are managed as appropriate. Conclusion: Increased and coordinated implementation efforts with a focus on priorities are needed from all role players if biodiversity is to be adequately conserved in Durban. Local government in South Africa can be an important contributor in biodiversity conservation, especially with regard to tools available in terms of its local planning mandate.
- RESEARCH: Rouget, M