Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Koedoe]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/rss.php?pid=0075-645820110002&lang=es vol. 53 num. 2 lang. es <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/img/en/fbpelogp.gif http://www.scielo.org.za <![CDATA[<b>The development and application of strategic adaptive management within South African National Parks</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582011000200001&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es <![CDATA[<b>River management under transformation</b>: <b>The emergence of strategic adaptive management of river systems in the Kruger National Park</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582011000200002&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es Protected areas such as the Kruger National Park (KNP) face many management challenges, of which ensuring a healthy flow of rivers into the park is one of the most important. Although previous management policies isolated the KNP from its neighbours, this position has changed as the KNP seeks to negotiate a respected 'place' for water and conservation in a competitive environment. A major catalyst for this re-orientation has been the response from the KNP to the growing water crisis where its position needed to be seen within the wider catchment and policy context in South Africa. This paper presents an overview of the transforming management practices of the KNP in a changing political, socio-economic and environmental context, through the lens of water resources. We show that the KNP management model moved beyond inward-looking, isolationist policies to adopt responsivity to major change factors. The new approach was applied first in the sphere of river management in the KNP after which it spread to other domains such as fire and game management. It explicitly incorporates an experimental-reflexive orientation and considers management as a process of learning-by-doing. This paper strives to review the transformation since the onset of explicit adaptive management of these rivers. The development of a new stewardship, based on a stakeholder-centred vision and on learning-focused management, has been a main achievement for the KNP. A closer partnership between researchers, managers and field staff, supported with buy-in and co-learning, has led to a management framework based on a clear vision informed by stakeholder involvement, an objectives hierarchy, a scoping of management options, a monitoring system and a reflective evaluation process with feedback loops. Although developed through a focus on rivers, the framework can be embraced for the management of ecosystems as a whole. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: The explicit adoption of strategic adaptive management for the rivers entering the KNP has had considerable implications not only with regard to management practice within the park, but also for the relationships with neighbours. This has also meant setting and implementing new goals and priorities with managers and staff. <![CDATA[<b>How assessment and reflection relate to more effective learning in adaptive management</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582011000200003&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es ABSTRACT Assessment (an immediate evaluation of significance or performance) and reflection (a lengthy, deep consideration) should be important components of adaptive management leading to learning. In this paper we use a prototype adaptive cycle and feedback framework, which are related to some aspects of learning theory, to examine the extent to which assessment and reflection were applied in a series of studies and initiatives in the Kruger National Park. In addition to evaluating assessment and reflection, we also considered how the various contributing components of each case were inter-related to provide a holistic view of each initiative. Two other studies in the Kruger National Park, which have examined learning specifically, are also discussed. One of them suggests that in a complex environment, learning necessarily has a dual nature, with each component of seven contrasting pairs of the aspects of learning in partial tension with the other. We use these dualities to further probe assessment, reflection, inter-relatedness and learning in the cases presented. Each contrasting aspect of a 'learning duality' turns out to emphasise either assessment or reflection, which reinforces the idea that both are needed to facilitate sufficient learning for successful adaptive management. We hope this analysis can act as a springboard for further study, practice and reflection on these important and often underrated components of adaptive management. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: The better understanding of assessment and reflection as being largely separate but complementary actions will assist adaptive management practitioners to give explicit attention to both, and to relate them better to each other <![CDATA[<b>Learning to bridge the gap between adaptive management and organisational culture</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582011000200004&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es ABSTRACT Adaptive management is the problem-solving approach of choice proposed for complex and multistakeholder environments, which are, at best, only partly predictable. We discuss the implications of this approach as applicable to scientists, who have to overcome certain entrained behaviour patterns in order to participate effectively in an adaptive management process. The challenge does not end there. Scientists and managers soon discover that an adaptive management approach does not only challenge conventional scientific and management behaviour but also clashes with contemporary organisational culture. We explore the shortcomings and requirements of organisations with regard to enabling adaptive management. Our overall conclusion relates to whether organisations are learning-centred or not. Do we continue to filter out unfamiliar information which does not fit our world view and avoid situations where we might fail, or do we use new and challenging situations to reframe the question and prepare ourselves for continued learning? CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: For an organisation to effectively embrace adaptive management, its mangers and scientists may first have to adapt their own beliefs regarding their respective roles. Instead of seeking certainty for guiding decisions, managers and scientists should acknowledge a degree of uncertainty inherent to complex social and ecological systems and seek to learn from the patterns emerging from every decision and action. The required organisational culture is one of ongoing and purposeful learning with all relevant stakeholders. Such a learning culture is often talked about but rarely practised in the organisational environment <![CDATA[<b>Systematic conservation planning and adaptive management</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582011000200005&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es ABSTRACT This article argues that systematic conservation planning (SCP) is an intrinsic part of the adaptive management approach within SANParks and should not be seen as a separate or different initiative. SCP operates within a complex environment that requires a deliberately adaptive approach. The similarities in philosophy, structure and functional elements of the planning process and approach between adaptive management and SCP, as applied within SANParks, are highlighted. The article distils requirements for ensuring that SCP remains strategically adaptive in its approach. CONSERVATION IMPLICATION: A deliberately adaptive approach to SCP improves its effectiveness in guiding the implementation of conservation actions and is a requirement for effective conservation planning in a complex environment <![CDATA[<b>A strategic framework for biodiversity monitoring in South African National Parks</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582011000200006&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es ABSTRACT Protected areas are under increasing threat from a range of external and internal pressures on biodiversity. With a primary mandate being the conservation of biodiversity, monitoring is an essential component of measuring the performance of protected areas. Here we present a framework for guiding the structure and development of a Biodiversity Monitoring System (BMS) for South African National Parks (SANParks). Monitoring activities in the organisation are currently unevenly distributed across parks, taxa and key concerns: they do not address the full array of biodiversity objectives, and have largely evolved in the absence of a coherent, overarching framework. The requirement for biodiversity monitoring in national parks is clearly specified in national legislation and international policy, as well as by SANParks' own adaptive management philosophy. Several approaches available for categorising the multitude of monitoring requirements were considered in the development of the BMS, and 10 Biodiversity Monitoring Programmes (BMPs) were selected that provide broad coverage of higher-level biodiversity objectives of parks. A set of principles was adopted to guide the development of BMPs (currently underway), and data management, resource and capacity needs will be considered during their development. It is envisaged that the BMS will provide strategic direction for future investment in this core component of biodiversity conservation and management in SANParks. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: Monitoring biodiversity in protected areas is essential to assessing their performance. Here we provide a coordinated framework for biodiversity monitoring in South African National Parks. The proposed biodiversity monitoring system addresses the broad range of park management plan derived biodiversity objectives <![CDATA[<b>Advances and challenges in the implementation of strategic adaptive management beyond the Kruger National Park - making linkages between science and biodiversity management</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582011000200007&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es ABSTRACT South African National Parks (SANParks) makes use of strategic adaptive management (SAM) to achieve its primary mandate of biodiversity conservation. This involves an iterative adaptive planning, management and review cycle to ensure appropriate alignment of stakeholder values with conservation objectives, to address the uncertainty inherent in complex social-economic-ecological systems and to learn explicitly whilst doing so. Adaptive management is recognised as the most logical framework for continuous improvement in natural resource management; nevertheless, several challenges in its implementation remain. This paper outlined these challenges and the various modifications to SANParks' adaptive planning and management process that have emerged during its development. We demonstrated how the establishment of a regular Science-Management Forum provides opportunities for social co-learning amongst resource managers and scientists of a particular park, whilst providing other positive spin-offs that mature the SAM process across the organisation. We discussed the use of particular conceptual constructs that clarify the link between monitoring, management requirements and operational endpoints, providing the context within which Thresholds of Potential Concern (TPCs) should be set, prioritised and measured. The evolution of the TPC concept was also discussed in the context of its use by other organisations, whilst recognising its current limitations within SANParks. Finally, we discussed remaining implementation challenges and uncertainties, and suggested a way forward for SAM. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: This paper outlined practical methods of implementing SAM in conservation areas, beyond what has already been learnt within, and documented for, the Kruger National Park. It also highlighted several implementation challenges that prove useful to other conservation agencies planning to adopt this approach to managing complex ecosystems <![CDATA[<b>Taking stock after a decade: does the 'thresholds of potential concern' concept need a socio-ecological revamp?</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582011000200008&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es ABSTRACT The concept of thresholds of potential concern (TPCs) as implemented for the last decade in strategic adaptive management in South African National Parks (SANParks), has proved workable in practice in a number of instances, but in others appears beset by conceptual and practical limitations or barriers. Three common challenges relate to (1) situations where there is uncertainty about whether and where real thresholds exist, (2) whether and how preferences and other social constructs, as opposed to what were seen as objective biophysical variables only, can be used for TPCs and (3) whether it is admissible to adjust TPCs to allow for variations in societal behaviour, in particular rate of management response. All three challenges arise in the face of TPC objectivity implied by the original definition, and in the light of the original view that TPCs be set some distance prior to a presumed ecological threshold. This paper suggests that the three challenges can be partly or largely dealt with by the use of a wider socio-ecological view, rather than seeing TPCs in isolation or as being only biophysical. Also, while detection of abrupt changes is helpful, it makes little practical difference if some TPCs happen to describe linear processes. The very decision to intervene can induce an abrupt change. Once a wider socio-ecological approach is employed, it becomes necessary for the user to specify the particular usage envisaged for the TPC, for instance, whether it is considered a preference and whether that preference is believed in any way to be related to an ecological threshold. In all cases, it is recommended that some form of explicit representation of the socio-ecological view is constructed - we suggest a cause-and-effect diagram (and give an example generated through a thought experiment) which describes presumed relationships in the subsystem of interest. This provides a broader systemic context and a shared understanding, and has implications for considering scenarios and management alternatives. For practical reasons, from the several states and processes in such a subsystem, only a few links can be chosen on which to base particular TPCs. If we have understood the subsystem well enough, these few links, at each of which a TPC is developed, will act as diagnostic points at which we can monitor the performance of the subsystem adequately. A broadened definition of a TPC is presented, supporting this approach. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: The concept of thresholds (initially ecological thresholds) has started influencing conservation management practice, a commonly-used formulation for management decision-making being the threshold of potential concern (TPC). Practical TPC usage can often be improved by moving away from its initially pure ecological outlook, rather framing understanding through an interlinked socio-ecological view <![CDATA[<b>History, rationale, and lessons learned</b>: <b>Thresholds of potential concern in Kruger National Park river adaptive management</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582011000200009&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es The Kruger National Park's (KNP) adopted system of management, called Strategic Adaptive Management (SAM), originated during the Kruger National Park Rivers Research Programme (KNPRRP) of the 1990s. An important concept in SAM is the thresholds of potential concern (TPCs), representing end-points in a continuum of change. TPCs within the KNP SAM system guide management if or when reached, 'red-flagging' possible negative biodiversity impacts and catalysing consideration of management options. TPC-related monitoring generates the strategic information for ongoing evaluation, learning and adaptation within SAM. Post-KNPRRP, although river flow and water quality TPCs have been implemented partly, those designed to detect undesirable changes in biodiversity have not been implemented, until recently. This paper describes the history, rationale, application and ongoing developments associated with the KNP river TPCs over the last decade, providing some key lessons for organisations utilising SAM. The paper concludes with an overview of new thinking and future directions envisaged for the KNP river TPCs, as part of the KNP SAM system. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: This paper documents important concepts of strategic adaptive management associated with the KNP river systems. Understanding, related to the rationale and justification for use and development or refinement of the thresholds of potential concern, lays an important foundation for ongoing work in managing these rivers adaptively. <![CDATA[<b>Towards adaptive fire management for biodiversity conservation</b>: <b>Experience in South African National Parks</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582011000200010&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es ABSTRACT This paper reviews the experience gained in three South African national parks (Kruger, Table Mountain and Bontebok) with regard to the adaptive management of fire for the conservation of biodiversity. In the Kruger National Park, adaptive approaches have evolved over the past 15 years, beginning initially as a form of 'informed trial and error', but progressing towards active adaptive management in which landscape-scale, experimental burning treatments are being applied in order to learn. In the process, significant advances in understanding regarding the role and management of fire have been made. Attempts have been made to transfer the approaches developed in Kruger National Park to the other two national parks. However, little progress has been made to date, both because of a failure to provide an agreed context for the introduction of adaptive approaches, and because (in the case of Bontebok National Park) too little time has passed to be able to make an assessment. Fire management interventions, ultimately, will manifest themselves in terms of biodiversity outcomes, but definite links between fire interventions and biodiversity outcomes have yet to be made. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: Significant challenges face the managers of fire-prone and fire adapted ecosystems, where the attainment of ecosystem goals may require approaches (like encouraging high-intensity fires at hot and dry times of the year) that threaten societal goals related to safety. In addition, approaches to fire management have focused on encouraging particular fire patterns in the absence of a sound understanding of their ecological outcomes. Adaptive management offers a framework for addressing these issues, but will require higher levels of agreement, monitoring and assessment than have been the case to date <![CDATA[<b>Implementing invasive species management in an adaptive management framework</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582011000200011&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es ABSTRACT Adaptive management theory has attracted substantial interest in recent years, in natural resource management in general and also for invasive alien species management. However, whilst many theoretical and conceptual advances have been made, documented cases of practical applications are rare. Coupling invasive species management components with adaptive feedback processes is not without challenges, requiring a substantial change in the thinking and practice of all those involved. Drawing on a decade of experience in South African National Parks, we suggest an approach to implementing adaptive management for controlling invasive alien species. Whilst efforts have been made to advance components of the overall management strategy, the absence of a framework for decision making and feedback mechanisms, inflexibility in the system and shortcomings in the governance structure are all identified as barriers to learning and knowledge integration for the purposes of effective invasive alien species management. The framework provided here, encompassing documents, committees and processes, is aimed at addressing these shortcomings. CONSERVATION IMPLICATION: Adaptive management theory offers a robust tool for managing inherently complex systems. Its practical application, however, requires distilling the theory into useable functions. We offer a framework to advance implementation of strategic adaptive management for the control of invasive alien species using experiences gained from South African National Parks <![CDATA[<b>Evaluating herbivore management outcomes and associated vegetation impacts</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582011000200012&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es ABSTRACT African savannas are characterised by temporal and spatial fluxes that are linked to fluxes in herbivore populations and vegetation structure and composition. We need to be concerned about these fluxes only when management actions cause the system to shift towards a less desired state. Large herbivores are a key attribute of African savannas and are important for tourism and biodiversity. Large protected areas such as the Kruger National Park (KNP) manage for high biodiversity as the desired state, whilst private protected areas, such as those adjacent to the KNP, generally manage for high income. Biodiversity, sustainability and economic indicators are thus required to flag thresholds of potential concern (TPCs) that may result in a particular set of objectives not being achieved. In large conservation areas such as the KNP, vegetation changes that result from herbivore impact, or lack thereof, affect biodiversity and TPCs are used to indicate unacceptable change leading to a possible loss of biodiversity; in private protected areas the loss of large herbivores is seen as an important indicator of economic loss. Therefore, the first-level indicators aim to evaluate the forage available to sustain grazers without deleteriously affecting the vegetation composition, structure and basal cover. Various approaches to monitoring for these indicators were considered and the importance of the selection of sites that are representative of the intensity of herbivore use is emphasised. The most crucial step in the adaptive management process is the feedback of information to inform management decisions and enable learning. Feedback loops tend to be more efficient where the organisation's vision is focused on, for example, economic gain, than in larger protected areas, such as the KNP, where the vision to conserve biodiversity is broader and more complex. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: In rangeland, optimising herbivore numbers to achieve the management objectives without causing unacceptable or irreversible change in the vegetation is challenging. This manuscript explores different avenues to evaluate herbivore impact and the outcomes of management approaches that may affect vegetation <![CDATA[<b>Conservation and monitoring of invertebrates in terrestrial protected areas</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582011000200013&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es ABSTRACT Invertebrates constitute a substantial proportion of terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity and are critical to ecosystem function. However, their inclusion in biodiversity monitoring and conservation planning and management has lagged behind better-known, more widely appreciated taxa. Significant progress in invertebrate surveys, systematics and bioindication, both globally and locally, means that their use in biodiversity monitoring and conservation is becoming increasingly feasible. Here we outline challenges and solutions to the integration of invertebrates into biodiversity management objectives and monitoring in protected areas in South Africa. We show that such integration is relevant and possible, and assess the relative suitability of seven key taxa in this context. Finally, we outline a series of recommendations for mainstreaming invertebrates in conservation planning, surveys and monitoring in and around protected areas. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: Invertebrates constitute a substantial and functionally significant component of terrestrial biodiversity and are valuable indicators of environmental condition. Although consideration of invertebrates has historically been neglected in conservation planning and management, substantial progress with surveys, systematics and bioindication means that it is now both feasible and advisable to incorporate them into protected area monitoring activities <![CDATA[<b>Applying adaptive management in resource use in South African National Parks</b>: <b>A case study approach</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582011000200014&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es South African National Parks (SANParks) has a history of formal and informal natural resource use that is characterised by polarised views on national conservation interests and benefits to communities. Current efforts aim to determine the sustainability of existing resource use in parks and to formalise these activities through the development of resource use protocols. The resource use policy of SANParks outlines principles for sustainable resource use, including greater involvement of local communities in management of protected areas and an adaptive management approach to determining sustainable use levels. This paper examines three case studies on plant use in national parks with regard to the development of criteria and indicators for monitoring resource use, and the role of thresholds of potential concern in measuring effectiveness of managing for sustainable use levels. Opportunities and challenges for resource use management are identified. Findings show that platforms for discussion and knowledge sharing, including research committees and community associations, are critical to building relationships, trust and a shared vision of sustainable resource use between stakeholders. However, additional capacity building is needed to enable local community structures to manage internal social conflicts and jealousy, and to participate fully in monitoring efforts. Long-term monitoring is essential for developing flexible harvest prescriptions for plant use, but this is a time-consuming and resource-intensive exercise. Flexible management strategies are difficult to implement and sometimes command-and-control measures are necessary to protect rare or endangered species. A holistic approach that considers resource use in national parks as a complement to broader community development initiatives offers a way forward. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: There is no blueprint for the development of sustainable resource use systems and resource use is often addressed according to multiple approaches in national parks. However, the SANParks resource use policy provides a necessary set of guiding principles for resource use management across the national park system that allows for monitoring progress. <![CDATA[<b>Prioritising species of special concern for monitoring in Table Mountain National Park</b>: <b>The challenge of a species-rich, threatened ecosystem</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582011000200015&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es Conservation requires that species are monitored to ensure the persistence of species and ecosystem processes. In areas with large numbers of threatened species, this can be a major challenge. Here we explore prioritising species of special concern on the Cape Peninsula, South Africa, conserved primarily in the Table Mountain National Park. With 307 terrestrial plant and animal species listed as threatened on the IUCN Red List (plus 208 as non-least concern) and 332 endemic to the Peninsula, it is impossible to monitor and manage all species with current resources. At a workshop of conservation managers and ecosystem and taxonomical specialists, 14 variables were incorporated into a simple scoring scheme to develop a priority listing of these species. Despite care to ensure that variables were independent, there was strong autocorrelation amongst biotic versus management variables. There was concern that biotic variables would be masked by management criteria, but this was not the case. We propose that monitoring should focus on as many top-scoring species as resources allow (including volunteers) and that setting a cut-off value for delimiting sensitive species should be eschewed. A major challenge is that many species are typical of lowland ecosystems, which are poorly represented in the national park. Although priority species for monitoring have been identified, this will need to be tempered with the monitoring costs and logistics of implementing the programme. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: Owing to the large number of threatened and endemic species in the Cape Peninsula, it is impossible to monitor all species with current resources. Management must focus on ecosystem maintenance as species-focused management will inevitably result in conflict with other threatened species. Monitoring should focus on as many top-scoring species as resources allow. The costs and logistics of a monitoring programme still need to be worked out. <![CDATA[<b>Science support within the South African National Parks adaptive management framework</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582011000200016&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es 'Behind all good science is good science support.' Implementing a successful strategic adaptive management (SAM) framework requires an effective science support structure. This structure must be effective in all areas of data management, starting with data collection and ending with the dissemination of knowledge, to facilitate timeous management decisions and associated actions. Accordingly, South African National Parks has embraced the use of various technologies to enable the effective implementation of a functional support structure. This paper described these technologies and discussed how they benefit the implementation of the SAM framework. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: The importance of functional support structures in science and conservation management is frequently undervalued in a system where emphasis is placed on scientific products. In order to promote research and facilitate analysis, sound data management practices are essential to integrating knowledge into an organisation's institutional memory. <![CDATA[<b>A framework for deriving and triggering thresholds for management intervention in uncertain, varying and time-lagged systems</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582011000200017&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es Ecosystems are characterised by complexity: high connectivity, the presence of positive and negative feedback loops, non-linear, abrupt and sometimes irreversible changes, delays between cause and effects, and uncertainties in observations, understanding and prediction. 'Adaptive management' is the preferred approach for the rational management of such systems. Where the management objective is to allow natural feedbacks and adaptive processes to operate as much as possible - as it is in many areas set aside for biodiversity conservation - a key issue is defining the thresholds that will trigger management intervention. This paper outlines and illustrates a logical process for doing so, taking into account the characteristics of complex, continuously changing ecosystems and the reality of information that is partial and understanding that is always provisional. After identifying a key ecological process that is believed to have an element of irreversibility beyond a certain point, the process has several steps, (1) define an indicator of the system state, (2) set a limit of acceptable change and add a safety margin, (3) project the indicator forward using a model, including uncertainty, (4) note the time when the indicator might transgress the safety-buffered limit and (5) subtract ecosystem and management response times. If the resultant time is at hand, an action is indicated - if not, the action is to continue to monitor the situation and refine the observations and models. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: Ecosystems are characterized by abrupt and sometimes irreversible changes. The challenge that face conservationists and managers are to identify which of these changes are likely to be irreversible and at what levels this will occur. This paper describes a logical process that enable mangers to determine which ecological processes have levels of irreversibility and monitor their status at all times. Once these processes are nearing the levels that are undesirable management actions can be invoked to prevent this from happening. <![CDATA[<b>From numbers to ecosystems and biodiversity</b>: <b>A mechanistic approach to monitoring</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582011000200018&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es Diverse political, cultural and biological needs epitomise the contrasting demands impacting on the mandate of the South African National Parks (SANParks) to maintain biological diversity. Systems-based approaches and strategic adaptive management (learn by doing) enable SANParks to accommodate these demands. However, such a management strategy creates new information needs, which require an appropriate analytical approach. We use conceptual links between objectives, indicators, mechanisms and modulators to identify key concerns in the context of and related to management objectives. Although our suggested monitoring designs are based mostly on defined or predicted underlying mechanisms of a concern, SANParks requires inventory monitoring to evaluate its key mandate. We therefore propose a predictive inventory approach based on species assemblages related to habitat preferences. Inventories alone may not always adequately serve unpacking of mechanisms: in some cases population size needs to be estimated to meet the information needs of management strategies, but actual population sizes may indirectly affect how the species impact on other values. In addition, ecosystem objectives require multivariate assessments of key communities, which can be used in trend analysis. SANParks therefore needs to know how to detect and define trends efficiently, which, in turn, requires precision of measures of variables. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: Current research needs with regard to monitoring should focus on defining designs to yield optimal precision whilst taking methodology, survey trade-offs and analytical approaches into account. Use of these directives and research will guide monitoring during evaluation of SANParks objectives at various scales. <![CDATA[<b>SANParks, people and adaptive management</b>: <b>Understanding a diverse field of practice during changing times</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582011000200019&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es Biodiversity conservation is often measurable and achievable and has been reasonably successful within the boundaries of national parks. However, the concept of parks providing tangible benefits and hence being seen as 'valuable' to the majority of the nation has been more difficult to define, measure and, importantly, deliver on. This function has traditionally fallen under what is currently known as the People and Conservation Department, which has a rich history in South African National Parks (SANParks) of change and adaptive learning in terms of defining core functions and associated management strategies, spanning from its original inception as the Information Services Department over 80 years ago. Learning from and in some cases, adapting to change, is evident throughout this broad scale national evolution of the department, from an initial focus on information sharing and education in the 1930s, to what we see today. This includes the primary focus areas of cultural resource management and indigenous knowledge, community relations, environmental education, awareness, youth outreach, interpretation and training. At a more local, park scale, there is a current drive to formalise the adaptive management and learning process for the people component of protected areas through the alignment of relevant project, programme and park objectives with those at a corporate or national level. Associated with this is an attempt to further align the associated monitoring, evaluation and reporting processes, thereby completing the formal adaptive management loops in order to facilitate and stimulate co-learning within and between relevant responsible departments within the organisation. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: Benefit sharing through biodiversity conservation has been shown to be crucial for the long-term success of protected areas, but the practicalities of implementing this are thwart with challenges. Despite this, SANParks is attempting to facilitate and promote benefits through conservation, specifically in the sense of benefits that support livelihoods whilst reducing vulnerability. With this in mind, we acknowledge the importance of the concepts of scale, resilience, complexity and adaptive learning for, and during, this process.