• Conservation Collaboration in the Overberg: The next 10 years of ABI
  • Finding Connection, Commitment & Community in COVID-19
  • EFTEON Mini-symposium
  • Biodiversity Offsets: Theory and Practice
  • CAPE Legacy Project
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01. Conservation Collaboration in the Overberg: The next 10 years of ABI

Speaker: Lesley Richardson, ABI Co-ordination; email: lesley@flowervalley.co.za; Cell: 082 3290249

Spanning 1, 2 million hectares, the Western Cape’s Overberg is home to the Agulhas Biodiversity Initiative (ABI) www.agulhasbiodiversity.co.za which involves private landowners and farmers partnering with government and non-profit organisations in a multi-sector conservation drive. In addition to promoting sustainable farming and fynbos harvesting, together they conserve water sources, protect the natural environment, grow green jobs and create corridors for the movement of wildlife.

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ABI was established 15 years ago and now has close to 50 organisational and individual members. This year the WWF Nedbank Green Trust has come on board to fund ABI’s planning for the next 10 years. www.greentrust.org.za/2020/06/08/conservation-collaboration-in-the-overberg/ The coming 12 months will see the ABI partners engaged in a bottoms-up, facilitated approach, building on the progress of the past, mindful of the challenges of the future. One of the future ABI projects is the establishment of a water fund for the Overberg that aims to increase long-term water sustainability. This will be linked to an integrated plan for the control of alien invasives and fire management, involving the Greater Overberg Fire Protection Association (goFPA) which currently can claim a membership of 75% of landowners eligible for membership, and the ABI Alien Clearing Programme which involves around 100 landowners in nine conservancies and farmers associations across some 40,000 ha of the Agulhas Plain. Coupled with this are the growing opportunities for alien biomass enterprises and markets to be explored.

The 2020-2030 ABI plan aims to take cross-sectoral collaboration to the next level, something that is required to manage large landscapes and multiple mandates. ABI members will then have a more robust vehicle for raising funds and support than if they each go it alone. ABI’s future plans will bring together social, cultural, political, economic and environmental needs and opportunities. Changing climate and the new economy will be major drivers.

If you are experienced and interested in landscape-scale, integrated approaches to conservation and human well–being and/or have a vested interest in conservation and development in the Overberg – please join us for a scintillating conversation at this year’s Fynbos Forum to help lay the foundation for ABI’s next 10 years. 

02. Finding Connection, Commitment & Community in COVID-19

Speaker: Matthew Zylstra

This Special Session introduces participants to the burgeoning empirical research exploring “nature connectedness” and its links with a wide range of health and wellbeing outcomes, alongside its capacity to support pro-conservation behaviours.

This tumultuous year has illuminated many societal blind-spots and aspects of people’s lives that they may have previously taken for granted. In particular, the COVID-19 induced lockdown reminded many individuals how vital contact and connection with people and nature is for their health, wellbeing and resilience.

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Now, as lockdown levels ease – yet with the perpetual prospect that they may tighten again – we need to be more proactive in our understanding of how nature (in fynbos) can play a key role in averting expected psycho-social impacts and mental anxiety as result of the COVID-19 stress, lockdowns and livelihood losses. Unchecked, this rebound could ripple across society with devastating effects.

This session invites participants to reflect on their experiences of nature/fynbos during lockdown, and highlights other insightful stories which emerged locally – in terms of appreciation of fynbos and its species – as well as from around the world.

We will unpack the concept of “human~nature connectedness” in both theory and practice, and summarise some of the stream of findings to emerge in recent times which reinforce why we all need nature, now more than ever. We will also touch on curious and unexpected insights, particularly regarding neurophysiological impacts and how increased nature connectedness correlates to conservation commitments.

Yet, despite the recognised importance of nature connection for heath, wellbeing and pro-nature/pro-social behaviours being increasingly recognised around the world, there appears to be a significant (policy) gap in South Africa. Why? What is being done and what more can be done? How might experiences in fynbos help? We reflect on whether international examples and trends have applicability here.

Finally, we will discuss prospects for future research, implementation and advocacy – which ultimately link connection as foundational to durable pro-conservation behaviours, particularly when ‘held’ or reinforced through engaged community.

Summary outline: 

  1. Connection: i) Lockdown Experiences/Insights; ii) Theory; iii) Practice 
  2. Commitment: i) Health & Wellbeing; ii) Behaviours; iii) Institutional Responses 
  3. Community: i) Roles; ii) Relational Worldview; iii) Research-Action Agenda 
  4. Discussion

03. CAPE’s legacy – outcomes of a participant-driven summative and formative evaluation of Cape Action for People and the Environment (CAPE.)

Organisers: SANBI
Names of panelists: CAPE Exco and CAPE Legacy Project Team

Cape Action for People and the Environment (CAPE) is a multi-stakeholder partnership of 35 member organisations drawn from all levels of government as well as the non-profit and private sectors. It aims to conserve, restore and protect the global biodiversity hotspot known as the Cape Floristic Region (CFR) while providing necessary benefits to local people. In 2000, the partnership envisioned that by 2020 it would have achieved effective conservation in a way that is embraced by both local communities and government and is recognised internationally.

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In 2018–2020, the CAPE community undertook a summative and formative evaluation process – the CAPE Legacy Project. The purpose is to understand the impact of conservation work in the CFR and the delivery of socio-economic benefits as per the strategic objectives set in 2000, and to seek what changes persist into the future. The CAPE Legacy Project shares lessons learnt in conserving the rich CRF and progress made over the past 20 years in its partnership and landscape initiatives.  In this time the partners have had to navigate through an increasingly dynamic environment with many economic, social, political and ecological complexities. The findings and insights of the CAPE Legacy Project have been used to engage the broader CFR conservation community in strategic conversations regarding the future of conservation in the Cape Floristic Region. Our presentation at Fynbos Forum 2020 will present the main Legacy outcomes and highlight what these might mean for conservation practice in our landscapes and for strategy and practice of the CFR conservation community for the future. It will take the form of a panel discussion of key contributors to the Legacy Project, and then open for response and discussion from the floor.

04. Biodiversity Offsets: Theory and Practice

Speakers: Amrei von Hase (Private Consultant)Mark Botha (Private Consultant), Garth Mortimer (Cape Nature), Marthán Theart (SANBI), Marlene Laros (DEA&DP)

Biodiversity offsets are increasingly being adopted in environmental impact assessment processes as an option to remedy significant residual negative impacts on biodiversity.  This session will bring together a panel of experts in the biodiversity offsetting sector. They will present an overview of what biodiversity offsets are, and what they are trying to achieve, using examples to show where they have been successful in contributing towards conservation goals.

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Several factors presently undermine biodiversity offset effectiveness. One of these is an absence of national policy, which will be addressed by a representative from the South African National Biodiversity Institute.


Other factors constraining biodiversity offsets as a tool for conservation will be discussed, again using case studies, to illustrate common problems in biodiversity offset implementation.

A representative from the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning will share insights based on their experience in working with offsets, and outline how this department intends to work with biodiversity offsets going forward.

The session will then consider practical steps that individuals in the sector could take, in order to improve biodiversity offset effectiveness.

 

Session PLAN:

  1. Overview of what BO’s are and the mitigation hierarchy – Amrei (5 min)
  2. Update on policy – Martan (5 min)
  3. Factors undermining BO implementation – Mark (5 min)
  4. Authorities’ perspective – Marlene and Garth (5 min)
  5. Practical steps to moving forward – ALL (25 min)
 

 

05. Fynbos research super sites: the proposed Expanded Freshwater and Terrestrial Environmental Observation Network (EFTEON) landscapes

Speaker: Jasper Slingsby

The Department of Science and Innovation has recently tasked SAEON with rolling out the Expanded Freshwater and Terrestrial Environmental Observation Network (EFTEON; https://efteon.saeon.ac.za/); a modular, highly-networked, national environmental research infrastructure. EFTEON aims to provide and operate a network of six instrumented landscape level platforms representing important South African Ecosystem-Human complexes for the South African environmental research community. The focus is on socially-relevant terrestrial landscapes and their coupled hydrological systems.

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There are currently 18 landscapes from across the country that have been nominated to submit full proposals for consideration as EFTEON sites, three of which are situated in or overlap the Fynbos Biome. This mini-symposium is aimed at presenting the five proposed landscapes to the Fynbos Forum community, providing the opportunity to give feedback or get involved. While it is unlikely that more than one of these will be successful, each proposal represents an exciting network of researchers and partners focused on existing sites and questions and offers the opportunity to make connections and grow the Fynbos community.

Talks

  • Intro and welcome – Dr Jasper Slingsby, SAEON (3 minutes)
  • The Agulhas Landscape – Dr Michael Grenfell, University of the Western Cape (6 minutes, no questions)
  • Baviaanskloof – Roderick Juba, Living Lands (6 minutes, no questions)
  • Kromme – Dr Julia Glenday, SAEON (6 minutes, no questions)
  • The Garden Route Gateway Site – Dr Bianca Currie, Nelson Mandela University (6 minutes, no questions)
  • Greater Cape Metro – Dr Andrew Turner, CapeNature; Dr Ffion Atkins, University of Cape Town (6 minutes, no questions)
  • Questions and discussion (12 minutes)