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National Biodiversity Framework 2019 to 2024

29 August 2022

The revised National Biodiversity Framework (NBF) 2019 to 2024 was published for implementation by the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Ms Barbara Creecy on 26 August 2022.

From the media statement of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (29 August 2022):

The first National Biodiversity Framework was published in 2009 and identified a set of 33 high priority activities to guide the work of the biodiversity sector over the period 2008-2013. This plan is drafted and reviewed every five years.

The 2019 – 2024 Framework coordinates and aligns the efforts of the various key role-players in the conservation and management of South Africa’s biodiversity in support of sustainable development.

The Framework notes while there are a range of national policies, strategies, frameworks and other systems either in place, or being developed, to guide the work in certain areas of the biodiversity sector, an integrated, coordinated and consistent approach to biodiversity management is necessary.  It identifies of priority areas for conservation action, and for the establishment of protected areas. It also reflects on regional cooperation concerning biodiversity management in Southern Africa, and identifies interventions that can be used to accelerate implementation of high-level priorities of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) over the next five years.

The Revised NBF addresses the biodiversity threats identified during the scientific assessment of the state of biodiversity and ecosystems in the country by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI).  The findings were published in the National Biodiversity Assessment (NBA) in 2019.

The most recent NBA showed that South Africa’s biodiversity remains under pressure from a variety of human-induced factors and disturbances.  These include unsustainable land uses, the destructive over-harvesting of species and illegal trafficking of wild animals and plants.

In addition to its intrinsic value, these ecosystems and species are critical natural assets that provide a range of goods and services to people such as, food production, providing clean water and air, regulating climate, supporting crop pollination, regulating nutrient cycles, and offers cultural and recreational benefits.  Maintaining the integrity of biodiversity assets and ecological infrastructure plays a fundamental role in South Africa achieving various social and economic development objectives.

In order to achieve its various purposes, the revised National Biodiversity Framework takes a two-pronged approach.  It firstly provides an overview of key national strategies, frameworks and systems that guide the work of the biodiversity sector, indicating their relevance to the strategic objectives, outcomes and priority activities of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan 2015 -2025. Secondly, it identifies a set of interventions that can be used to accelerate implementation of high-level priorities of the NBSAP over the next five years.

These are broken down in detail in the NBF and are aimed at, amongst others, bottlenecks or underlying barriers to implementation or those which can provide the best opportunities for fast-tracking implementation and achieving multiple goals simultaneously.

Continued investment in healthy ecosystems in terms of management, conservation and restoration of ecosystems and biodiversity is crucial for water, food and energy security, disease and natural disaster control, climate change resilience; and for post-COVID-19 economic recovery. Strong commitment and cooperation across all spheres of government (whole of government approach) is essential for the implementation of the NBF as one of the National Development Plan’s accelerators.

Of the various global and national initiatives prioritising biodiversity and conservation, The ‘New Deal for Nature and People’ now stands at the forefront, aiming to protect and restore nature for the benefit of people and the planet. Countries around the world are adopting this approach to reduce the loss of natural spaces, reduce species extinctions and to significantly decrease the negative ecological impacts of production and consumption patterns, amongst other imperatives. The accelerators, activities and projected outcomes of the National Biodiversity Framework 2019-2024 harmoniously aligns with the narrative of the New Deal for Nature and People, envisioned by South Africa.

Coordinated implementation of the strategies identified in this NBF will contribute meaningfully to addressing poverty and creating a climate-resilient society.