Towards developing an understanding of biodiversity stewardship in the city of Cape Town.
Together with the prospect of global environmental change, biodiversity loss is arguably the most pressing environmental issue of our time. Conserving biodiversity is a complex issue and effectively engaging people in conserving biodiversity, although challenging, is crucial. Various conservation initiatives exist that incentivise landowners to participate in restrictive conservation agreements such as the stewardship programme. From an environmental perspective, stewardship is simply people taking care of the earth and the stewardship programme is an innovative conservation initiative that aims to assist private or communal landowners by making biodiversity conservation more attractive through incentives and providing them with the necessary skills and know-how. In South Africa, landowners can enter into biodiversity stewardship agreements in the following options: A Biodiversity Management Agreement (under National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act No. 10 of 2004), a Protected Environment (under Protected Areas Act No. 57 of 2003) or a Nature Reserve or National Park (under PAA) with the latter two agreements requiring formal declaration and restrictions on the land. The time frames and management requirements are aligned with the degree of conservation protection. Understanding landowner perceptions and motivations is critical for the successful implementation of the Biodiversity Stewardship Programme. The aim of this study was to determine how new participatory conservation systems, such as the Biodiversity Stewardship Programme, can assist in biodiversity conservation on private land within the City of Cape Town. This research made use of a case study methodology with the main research tool being semi-structured face-to-face interviews conducted with landowners and managers. This was supplemented with documentation and participant and direct observations. It was evident that predicting pro-environmental behaviour based on characteristics and perceptions is complex and varies from individual to individual. It emerged that certain characteristics can possibly indicate pro-environmental behaviour however pro-environmental behaviour does not necessarily indicate a willingness to participate in restrictive conservation measures such as the Stewardship Programme. Despite a lack of resources and capacity amongst conservation institutions, the research discovered a well-coordinated well-structured conservation system built around constructive partnerships in particular amongst the official conservation organisations. Biodiversity stewardship forms a crucial component of a set of tools to consolidate the protected area network in the City of Cape Town and is playing an increasingly important role in conserving the unique biodiversity within the City.