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Biodiversity Stewardship Agreements

The Biodiversity Stewardship Fact Sheet, developed by the South African National Biodiversity Institute outlines 5 different types of biodiversity stewardship agreements, ranging from informal, non-binding agreements to formally declared protected areas. Biodiversity stewardship is based on voluntary agreements between the landowners and conservation authorities, and landowners are supported by government at different levels depending on the level of protection granted to the biodiversity priority area concerned. The 5 types of biodiversity stewardship agreements, in descending order of formal protection, are:

  • Nature reserves, which are governed by the Protected Areas Act;
  • Protected environments, which are governed by Protected Areas Act;
  • Biodiversity management agreements; which are governed by Biodiversity Act;
  • Biodiversity agreements; which are governed by contract law; and
  • Biodiversity partnership areas; which are informal agreements.

Advantages for all biodiversity stewardship agreements

  • Voluntary agreements make it easier for conservation authorities to protect the biodiversity priority area concerned because the landowners initiate conversations on biodiversity conservation.
  • Nature reserves and protected environments declared in terms of biodiversity stewardship agreements have the same level of protection as those formally declared.
  • Multiple use landscapes are well protected and managed by biodiversity stewardship agreements.
  • Land remains in the landowners name therefore there is no expropriation of land.
  • Incentives are provided to landowners whose land is subject to a biodiversity stewardship agreement on both a provincial and national level.
  • Longer term protection is possible for a period of 5-10 years (which is typical of biodiversity agreements and biodiversity management agreements) and a minimum of 30 years (which is typical of protected environments and nature reserves).
  • Annual audit by conservation authorities is conducted to ensure that landowners are acting in accordance with the biodiversity stewardship agreement.

Disadvantages for all biodiversity stewardship agreements

  • No incentives for biodiversity agreements and biodiversity partnership area agreements are provided to the landowners.
  • No formal regulation of biodiversity agreements and biodiversity partnership area agreements.
  • No title deed restrictions for biodiversity management agreements, biodiversity agreements and biodiversity partnership area agreements.