South Africa set for giant strides in direction of 10% marine protected areas

Photographer: Steve Benjamin

There was a lot celebration in 2019 when the South African Marine Protected Space (MPA) community expanded to 41 MPAs encompassing 5.4% of its mainland waters, and the hope is that our nation will have a good time once more quickly with a shift of our MPA footprint to 10%.

A key step on this conservation planning course of is the manufacturing of the Crucial Biodiversity Areas (CBA) Map, not a small feat – which was launched in April 2022 by the Division of Forestry Fisheries and the Atmosphere (DFFE), the South African Nationwide Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and Nelson Mandela College.

The CBA Map informs safety and administration and pulls the marine biodiversity sector’s technique (and South Africa’s Ocean) into one place in a visible means. The first goal of this course of is to make sure that marine life and ecological infrastructure are protected, in addition to to be sure that the oceans financial system (all of the actions that happen in our ocean – fishing, oil and gasoline prospecting, transport, tourism and many others) is applied in a sustainable method.

The creation of this map is a really collaborative and knowledge hungry course of, produced by together with datasets in a pc mannequin with knowledge submissions from all sectors round South Africa together with authorities, NGOs, and personal enterprises with 976 biodiversity options and design parts included.

The map highlights ecosystem varieties; vital areas and distributions of species similar to turtles, seabirds, whales, seals, sharks, and rays; distinctive or particular habitats or options; ecological processes; ecological infrastructure and present precedence areas for defense. Design parts embody edge matching and aligning precedence areas each regionally and internationally, culturally vital areas, ecological situation, and local weather change adaptation. As well as, the dataset contains price layers, that are areas to be prevented to cut back battle (round 19 totally different sectors together with fisheries, aquaculture, petroleum, mining, and transport) and issues linked to cumulative influence of previous and present actions.

“Which means that the CBA Map is the simplest method to defend our biodiversity, whereas decreasing battle with trade,” mentioned MPA Scientist at WILDTRUST, Kendyl Wright.

This model of the CBA Map has recognized areas of vital biodiversity and zones them to incorporate Crucial Biodiversity Areas “Pure (18%) and Restore (3.6%)” which should be both maintained or restored to a pure or close to pure state, and “Ecological Assist Areas (6.6%)” which should be saved in a purposeful state. These areas along with the 5.4% MPAs determine 33.6% of our ocean area round South Africa as biodiversity prioritization areas and inform MPA growth sooner or later. These areas are additionally assigned administration suggestions that are outlined within the sea use tips.

“Inside our present MPA community of 5.4%, South Africa’s coastal zone is effectively represented, with slightly below 37% of the coast falling inside MPAs,” says Wright.

“Whereas there are nonetheless vital coastal areas, it’s offshore areas that comprise these low hanging fruit within the potential ‘subsequent 5% MPAs’ the place the advantages to the folks of South Africa considerably outweigh the rapid prices. These embody key areas recognized throughout the Phakisa and CBA Map course of however left unprotected on the west coast similar to an expanded space across the Orange Shelf MPA. It’s definitely clear that the science and planning groundwork to realize spatial safety targets has been accomplished, and that we’re able to take the following step in our journey to realize 10% safety of our mainland waters.”

South Africa finalised V1.2 of its CBA Map in April 2022, though that is an iterative course of with updates probably as knowledge improves. This means key areas that require safety, and the prediction is that a lot of this subsequent 5% MPAs can be offshore the place the worth to the folks of South Africa by means of carbon sequestration, meals safety and oxygen provision far outweigh any negatives.

Which means that South Africa is poised and able to obtain 10% of our ocean in MPAs and it will go a protracted method to contributing our lions share in direction of the worldwide 30×30 objective – presently being known as the 30% earlier than 2030 objective on the United Nations Ocean Convention presently happening in Portugal.

Earlier this yr President Cyril Ramaphosa publicly introduced South Africa’s help of the worldwide 30×30 objective saying: “South Africa helps and welcomes all targets within the International Biodiversity Framework and recognises the necessity for bold targets, together with for Goal 3, which is often often known as 30×30.” *

“Over-fishing, damaging industrial actions, habitat destruction, useful resource extraction, local weather change and air pollution should not letting up and by not defending our oceans’ capability to maintain giving what we take, we danger a biodiversity disaster, and a subsequent ocean collapse and financial disaster,” commented Wright.

“You’ll be able to assist by including your identify to this on-line enchantment for elevated safety.

Defending our Ocean is not going to solely profit biodiversity but in addition our South African folks.

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