Building biodiversity knowledge for action in Southern Africa: spatial biodiversity assessment, prioritization and planning in South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique and Malawi

The five year SBAPP Regional Project started in 2022 and ends in June 2027. It is funded by donors the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and the Fonds Français pour l’Environnement Mondial (FFEM).

The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) is the Lead Implementing Agency, working with the following Country Implementing Agencies:

Aim and rationale of the project

The SBAPP Regional Project aims to develop and/or enhance national spatial biodiversity assessments, prioritization and planning (SBAPP) processes and products in four Southern African countries in order to strengthen the national knowledge base on biodiversity; and ensure this knowledge informs land use planning and decision making, assists with the development of environmental policy and strategies, and provides a basis for future biodiversity monitoring.

All four countries have a substantial number of shared species and ecosystem types across their borders, making regional cooperation vital for mapping and assessment processes.

Few African countries currently have spatial data on biodiversity to enable them to make informed decisions and policies on land use planning and biodiversity protection in their National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP), a requirement for parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

With the pending need to report against the international goals and targets in the CBD Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, it is essential that countries use relevant and adequate tools to define ambitious and achievable biodiversity-related objectives.

What are SBAPP processes and products?

In the SBAPP processes, a number of key datasets (e.g. maps of ecosystem types and ecological condition; or species distribution maps and population-level information) can be used in conjunction with international standards from the IUCN to produce useful headline indicators on the state of biodiversity – the Red List of Ecosystems and the Red List of Species.

These assessments are then used to spatially identify priority areas for biodiversity conservation and ultimately inform land use planning processes.

Since biodiversity is not distributed evenly across the landscape or seascape, and neither are the pressures that act on it, it is important to have a systematic, defensible and spatially explicit approach, based on the best available science, to assess the state of biodiversity and decide on priority areas for action.

The development of SBAPP products, and their endorsement and mainstreaming into decision making is an iterative and ongoing process. All four countries had begun some aspects of SBAPP processes prior to the project. The project supports associated capacity building so that SBAPP products can be further developed in the countries in future.

How are SBAPP products used?

The information produced through spatial biodiversity assessment processes has multiple applications for biodiversity strategies and action planning at a national scale, such as informing national target setting processes or identifying national priority areas for biodiversity conservation and management.

The SBAPP information is crucial for mainstreaming biodiversity requirements into other sectors, and informing land use and development planning at national and sub-national scales.

The SBAPP processes produce maps, graphs, datasets and analyses that communicate the state of biodiversity in national reports. These outputs also allow countries to monitor progress towards international goals and targets, such as those in the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and the Sustainable Development Goals.

In addition, the processes can identify sites that are important for biodiversity globally through Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) identification.

Project Components, Objectives and Expected Outputs

The project has 4 Components, 10 Objectives, and 17 Expected Outputs. The diagram below gives a rough idea of how the Expected Outputs of the project depend on each other (note that Component A, which is the regional and national project management aspects, is not included in this diagram):

For more information

Please contact the Regional Project Manager, Carol Poole

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