On 7 June 2022, in the presence of the French Ambassador to South Africa, SANBI signed a financial agreement with Agence Française de Développement to implement a spatial biodiversity assessment, prioritisation and planning project (SBAPP).
Mapping the occurrence and status of species and ecosystems in South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique and Malawi will produce information that assists in the development of national strategies and action plans to ensure biodiversity is integrated into the planning and decision-making processes.
The project will run for five years and will terminate in June 2027. Project objectives include in-country assessments of a wide range of different species and ecosystem types that are facing pressure from infrastructure and agricultural development, the over-utilisation of natural resources, pollution, biological invasions and climate change.
The information collected as part of the SBAPP project will be managed by the participating countries and made available to the public.
SANBI, a pioneer in this work, is the project’s lead implementing agency, with country coordination by the Namibian Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism; the Wildlife Conservation Society country office in Mozambique in coordination with the Mozambique National Directorate of Environment (DINAB); and the Malawi University of Science and Technology in collaboration with the Malawian Environmental Affairs Department.
Mr Shonisani Munzhedzi, CEO of SANBI, says it is vital for countries to know what biodiversity they have, where it is, and what state it is in. “This basic information has multiple applications – including for planning how and where conservation action could be prioritised and for policies and cross-sectoral frameworks to support sustainable development. This intervention is timely as it comes at the time when nations of the world are framing the new deal for nature and people in the form of the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. It further entrenches sound decision-making on appropriate land use, conservation and sustainable utilisation of natural resources,” said Munzhedzi at the signing ceremony yesterday.
Working regionally with the involvement of stakeholders is key to the project’s success as the four countries share cross-border ecosystem types, are home to similar species communities and face similar environmental pressures. A diverse network of more than 15 partner institutions (government research institutes, non-profit organisations and universities) is involved and is contributing substantial skills and resources.
The project also creates a prime opportunity for expertise and capacity exchange between biodiversity institutes in France, and Southern African countries of Namibia, Mozambique, Malawi and South Africa.