South African Journal of Science
On-line version ISSN 1996-7489
Global declines in biodiversity, and the associated impacts on human wellbeing, have triggered national and international agreements to reduce or halt these trends. The Convention on Biological Diversity's 2002 commitment, 'to achieve, by 2010, a significant reduction in the current rate of biodiversity loss....', is an often cited example and has caused a flurry of activity in the development of biodiversity monitoring systems. At a national scale, South Africa's National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act and associated legislation have highlighted the need for a national biodiversity monitoring framework. The National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan makes a significant contribution to the development of this framework. As South Africa begins to implement the action plan, a review of existing national monitoring programmes in terms of global and national biodiversity monitoring requirements is important. This paper presents the results of a review of these national programmes, to provide a broad overview, assess alignment with national and global requirements, evaluate gaps and discuss a way forward in the devising of a national biodiversity monitoring framework. We find that the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan aligns well with the Convention on Biological Diversity's 2010 target objectives, but differs in terms of the indicators proposed. Existing national biodiversity monitoring programmes also exhibit these indicator differences and show several gaps in indicator development and data collation. These gaps raise concern around the country's ability to report on the Convention on Biological Diversity's 2010 target, but together with the sound platform provided by the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, provide a good indication of national priorities and a way forward through a combination of short-term achievable tasks and longer-term development of programmes.