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Jewitt D.,Biodiversity Research and Assessment | Jewitt D.,University of Witwatersrand | Goodman P.S.,University of Witwatersrand | Erasmus B.F.N.,University of Witwatersrand | And 3 more authors.
Environmental Management | Year: 2017

Habitat loss and climate change are primary drivers of global biodiversity loss. Species will need to track changing environmental conditions through fragmented and transformed landscapes such as KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Landscape connectivity is an important tool for maintaining resilience to global change. We develop a coarse-grained connectivity map between protected areas to aid decision-making for implementing corridors to maintain floristic diversity in the face of global change. The spatial location of corridors was prioritised using a biological underpinning of floristic composition that incorporated high beta diversity regions, important plant areas, climate refugia, and aligned to major climatic gradients driving floristic pattern. We used Linkage Mapper to develop the connectivity network. The resistance layer was based on land-cover categories with natural areas discounted according to their contribution towards meeting the biological objectives. Three corridor maps were developed; a conservative option for meeting minimum corridor requirements, an optimal option for meeting a target amount of 50% of the landscape and an option including linkages in highly transformed areas. The importance of various protected areas and critical linkages in maintaining landscape connectivity are discussed, disconnected protected areas and pinch points identified where the loss of small areas could compromise landscape connectivity. This framework is suggested as a way to conserve floristic diversity into the future and is recommended as an approach for other global connectivity initiatives. A lack of implementation of corridors will lead to further habitat loss and fragmentation, resulting in further risk to plant diversity. © 2017 Springer Science+Business Media New York


Jewitt D.,University of Witwatersrand | Jewitt D.,Biodiversity Research and Assessment | Goodman P.S.,University of Witwatersrand | O'Connor T.G.,University of Witwatersrand | And 2 more authors.
Biodiversity and Conservation | Year: 2016

Collective properties of biodiversity, such as beta diversity, are suggested as complementary measures of species richness to guide the prioritisation and selection of important biodiversity areas in regional conservation planning. We assessed variation in the rate of plant species turnover along and between environmental gradients in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa using generalised dissimilarity modelling, in order to map landscape levels of floristic beta diversity. Our dataset consisted of 434 plots (1000 m2) containing 997 grassland and savanna matrix species. Our model explained 79 % of the null deviance observed in floristic dissimilarities. Variable rates of turnover existed along the major environmental gradients of mean annual temperature, median rainfall in February, and soil cation exchange capacity, as well as along gradients of geographical distance. Beta diversity was highest in relatively warm, drier summer regions and on dystrophic soils. Areas of high beta diversity identify areas that should be included in conservation plans to maximise representation of diversity and highlight areas best suited to protected area expansion. Biome transition areas in high beta diversity areas may be susceptible to climate variability. Including beta diversity turnover rates in regional conservation plans will help to preserve evolutionary and ecological processes that create and maintain diversity. © 2016 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht


Carbutt C.,Biodiversity Research and Assessment | Goodman P.S.,Conservation Solutions
Koedoe | Year: 2013

The assessment of protected area management effectiveness was developed out of a genuine desire to improve the way protected areas are managed and reported on, in relation to a formalised set of conservation objectives. For monitoring and reporting purposes, a number of participatory methods of rapidly assessing management effectiveness were developed. Most rapid assessment methods rely on scoring a range of protected area-related activities against an objective set of criteria documented in a formal questionnaire. This study evaluated the results of two applications of the same management effectiveness assessment tool applied to the same protected area, namely the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South Africa. The manner in which the assessments were undertaken differed considerably and, not unexpectedly, so did the results, with the national assessment scoring significantly higher than the provincial assessment. Therefore, a further aim was to evaluate the operating conditions applied to each assessment, with a view to determining which assessment was more closely aligned with best practice and hence which score was more credible. The application of the tool differed mainly with respect to the level of spatial detail entered into for the evaluation, the depth and breadth of the management hierarchy that was consulted, the time in which the assessment was undertaken and the degree of peer review applied. Disparate scores such as those obtained in the assessments documented here are likely to bring the discipline of management effectiveness assessment into disrepute unless an acceptable and standardised set of operating procedures is developed and adopted. Recommendations for such a set of 'indispensable constants' were made in this article to ensure that management effectiveness assessments remain robust and reputable, thereby ensuring an honest picture of what is happening on the ground. Conservation implications: We proposed that standard operating procedures should be in place when protected area management effectiveness assessments are undertaken, in order for the results to be credible. This involves ensuring that the right people participate and that each participant is allowed sufficient time to peer review each other. © 2013. The Authors.

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