Not so wild on the wild coast: conservation of pondoland


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Not so wild on the Wild Coast: Landscape changes and threats to biodiversity on the Eastern Cape’s Wild Coast and the role of protected areas in communal areas
04/July/ 2012
Berliner, D.D
Eco-logic consulting

The Pondoland centre of endemism is the smallest and perhaps the most vulnerable in South Africa. Its importance has been globally recognized by its inclusion within Conservation Internationals Maputu-Pondoland- Albany hotspot.
The Wild Coast Project, a GEF funded initiative, administered by the ECPBT aims to establish a representative network of co managed protected areas across the Pondoland center and within the Wild Coast. A number of case studies are used to examine the key threats, systemic relationships between these, and the drivers of landscape change on the Wild Coast. In light of this, the question is asked: how effective the proposed community protected areas will be to ensure persistence of biodiversity on the Wild Coast?
The case studies include a number of ecosystems, including mangrove estuaries, scarp forests, and the grasslands /thorn veld/forest mosaic. Case studies are the result of numerous site visits, literature reviews, discussion with locals, and GIS analysis of past areal and satellite imagery.
The case studies reveal the essential paradox of conservation in communal areas, like the Wild Coast. On the one hand, the human footprint and level of transformation appears to be relatively low when compared to the highly transformed landscapes of commercial agriculture; but on the other hand, closer inspection and analysis of landscape and associated environment changes, reveals highly dynamic and vulnerable systems showing the signs of an ‘environmental meltdown’. This threatens not only the livelihoods of many depended on natural resources, but also the irreplaceable biodiversity associated with these areas.

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Not so wild on the wild coast: conservation of pondoland

  1. 1. Not so wild on the Wild Coast:Landscape changes and threats to biodiversity : are community PA’s a viable solution ? Dr. Derek Berliner Contemporary conservation practice conference 22-26 October 2012, Midmar dam KZN
  2. 2.  Importance of Pondoland/Wild Coast Threats Landscape change : forest, mangroves, grasslands, woodlands, cultivated lands Can community protected areas make a difference ? Conclusions
  3. 3.  Pondoland Centre of Endemism Globally recognized by its inclusion within Conservation International’s Maputo-Pondoland- Albany hotspot More than 2 253 plant species have been recorded, of which 10 % endemic, most occurring with a 15 km coastal belt. PCE one of smallest and most threatened 80 % of South Africa’s remaining forests fall within this hotspot. With more than 600 tree species, have the highest tree diversity of any of the world’s temperate forests
  4. 4. Pondoland centre
  5. 5. CEPF prioritysitePondolandrecognized as‘prioritycorridor region ‘
  6. 6. “ Plants, animals and landscapes are profoundly reflected in Xhosalanguage , stories, poetry, rituals and healing practices that defineXhosa culture…… in our modernizing world cultural diversity isthreatened by the loss of natural diversity and finding ways ofprotecting the regions biodiversity and cultural diversity is of vitalimportance “Dold & Cocks (2012) Voices from the forest
  7. 7.  Low, with less than 3 % of the Wild Coast project area falling within formal protected areas. Existing reserves are poorly managed, and mostly subjected to same threats occurring outside of reserves
  8. 8.  Despite low human infrastructural footprint, many areas are currently suffering ongoing degradation. This threatens not only irreplaceable biodiversity , but also the ‘livelihoods-safety net’ , and ‘cultural integrity ‘ of those reliant on the ecosystem services and resources of the Wild Coast. The ‘myth of rural development ‘
  9. 9. Dune mining N2 toll road Proposed dune mining Proposed N2 toll rd areaareaOthers : timber plantations, maize and other biofuel crops,) damming of estuarine rivers
  10. 10. The Wild Coast SDF proposes five 1st order and fifteen 2ndorder development nodes , most fall within CBA’s !!
  11. 11. Direct causes of biodiversity loss• Invasive alien plants• Slash and burn land clearing• Non sustainable harvesting of subsistence resource• Illegal logging and bark harvesting , hunting•Overgrazing/over burning
  12. 12. Socio-economic drivers of biodiversity loss and landscape change• Population pressures and poverty• Lack of implementation of any coherent environmental management policies by Eastern Cape government• Fragmented and multiple land management authorities• Brake down in traditional farming and resource use control measures• Erosion of traditional conservation ethics• Conservation is perceived to be a ‘colonial construct’ used to controlresources.
  13. 13. •Lantana•Chromoleana•Inkberry•Mauritius thorn•Peanut butter cassiaAbout 10-30 %coverOn exponentialincrease (no IAPplants recorded25 years ago)
  14. 14. Alien plant landscapes: Nstubane
  15. 15. Loss Degradation Key causes10-20% 25-30 % •Slash and burn farming •Invasive aliens Invasive alien plants rapidly colonize fallow cleared lands. These areas provide a foot- hold for invasive plants to spread into surrounding grasslands and forest
  16. 16. All state forests :Pagela ,Mpame, Manubi forest all show heavydegradation from invasive plants(> 20 % Mauritius thorn) Mpame forest: red lines are degradation from IAP, and logging
  17. 17. Light greenpatches, areIAP, mostlyMauritiusthorn
  18. 18. • No invasive alien plants in1984 (today plots are coveredin IAP)•About 60 % loss of forestsince 1939• Most forest loss occurredsince 1984•IAP on exponential increase
  19. 19. Changes in McKenzie plots since 1937 with most of the lossoccurring since 1982.
  20. 20. Shifting dune sands
  21. 21. Drivers of dune degradation Alien Plants Goats(synergistic interactions) Climate change
  22. 22. 17 estuaries withmangroves, three havelost all mangroves and 5have had significant lossPrime causes : mangroveflooding (climate change ,change in flow regime)and over harvesting
  23. 23. 2005 2012
  24. 24.  Hoare (2006) has shown that Pondoland-Ugu Sandstone Coastal Sourveld is 44 % transformed Rather than 29%, derived from the NLC (and used in the SANBI, 2004 classification). This pushes it into the endangered vegetation category Significant with regard to N2 road toll EIA
  25. 25. OConner (1999) found between 17 and 35 % woody coverincrease between 1937 and 1986 for some commercial farms ofEastern Cape (most occurred after 1962)Similar trends observed for communal areas of Wild Coast
  26. 26. Landscape changes south of Manubi forest 1942 -1995 1942 1962 1995 Increase in woodland (since 1962), decrease in cultivated land (since 1942) and some forest expansion , occurring between 1942 and 1995
  27. 27. The hills in the background were open grasslands in 1962. These areas have become invade by Acaciakaroo (south of Manubi forest)
  28. 28. Much of the Wild Coast is a dynamic balance between a mosaic ofgrasslands , forest and woodlands. In the past this relationshipwas stable and mediated by fires, rainfall and some land clearing.Today, expanded populations, increased land abandonment ,spread of invasive plants, excessive use of fires , and mostlikely , climate change have disrupted this balance
  29. 29.  Manubi Pagela state forest (near coffee bay) Silaka expansion (Mt Thesinger , Mngazana corridor) Mkambati expansion (Tracor land, Mtentu , Lambasie) If proclaimed would meet targets of >10 % of area under formal protection
  30. 30.  Currently a long time lag in getting PA proclaimed (+3 yrs) The chances of the successful establishment and ongoing management of ‘community-based’ protected areas are severely limited without strong support from of government Currently, there is a near absence of active government support and involvement for developing community protected areas (at least in the Wild Coast). Lack of any government institute dedicated to the development and support of CBNRM and co-management structures. These are essential to the establishment community based PA’s.
  31. 31. Concluding remarks Protected areas are a long term solutions, more immediate actions are needed to stop biodiversity loss: landscape wide resource management linked to rural development initiatives . Rural development should be more than just ‘ power lines and roads’, but needs to include extension services that support improved resource management, eco- farming and conservation. Communities should derive value from the conservation of biodiversity and from protected areas. Protected areas can provide development opportunities for communities. In many cases, some forms of commercial resource use may be compatible with the goals of protected areas
  32. 32.  Making the case that the conservation of cultural diversity is linked to bio - diversity Promote a bigger picture vision of conservation and rural development by linking a network of small community PA’s into a Wild Coast botanical and cultural World Heritage Site It is not too late to “ save the Wild Coast” but time is running out …..the shadows are getting long !
  33. 33. Thank you