CAPE secures biodiversity through protected areas including biodiversity stewardship. The terrestrial protected area network of the Cape Floristic Region (CFR) is being expanded strategically to include a representative sample of both biodiversity pattern and ecological process, and to enable adaptation to climate change. Expansion takes place through land acquisition by conservation agencies in some cases, but most significantly through partnerships between these agencies and private and communal landowners who own land with important biodiversity – through biodiversity stewardship agreements. The protection of our valuable marine resources is also a focus of the programme and the partnership works together to better manage and expand our Marine Protected Areas. Improving management effectiveness in protected areas continues to be an important focus of the partnership.


Biodiversity stewardship provides a powerful tool to assist national and provincial government in fulfilling its mandate to conserve biodiversity outside of state-owned protected areas. Since acquiring land to expand protected areas is usually too expensive, stewardship provides a cost-effective alternative, by getting landowners to commit to conserving and managing the biodiversity on their own land. This includes private farms, communal lands and land owned by national/provincial government departments, municipalities and parastatals and private companies.

Both the Western and Eastern Cape Provinces have developed Protected Areas Expansion Strategies, with stewardship as the key methodology for securing protected area expansion targets.

The Western Cape Stewardship and Protected Areas Expansion Reference Group was designed to generate co-operation across agencies, to incentivise stewardship action and support CapeNature and SANParks in the implementation of stewardship.

Understanding stewardship

Stewardship refers to the wise use, management and protection of that which has been entrusted to you. Within the context of conservation, stewardship means wisely using natural resources that you have been entrusted with on your property, protecting important ecosystems, effectively managing alien invasive species and fires, and grazing or harvesting without damaging the veld.

The vision of the Stewardship Programme is threefold:

  • To ensure that privately or communally owned areas with high biodiversity value receive secure conservation status and are linked to a network of other conservation areas in the landscape
  • To ensure that landowners and communities who commit their property to a stewardship option, will enjoy tangible benefits for their conservation actions
  • To expand biodiversity conservation by encouraging commitment to, and implementation of, good biodiversity management practice, on privately or collectively owned land, in such a way that the landowners become empowered decision-makers.

Priority Actions for 2011 – 2020 include:

  • Identifying and securing priority terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity in a network of protected areas, in line with the National Protected Areas Expansion Strategy.
  • Improving management effectiveness in CFR protected areas (including terrestrial, freshwater and marine) and supporting the development of mechanisms to monitor the impacts of climate change, and to demonstrate the value of adaptation strategies.
  • Securing privately and communally owned and managed critical biodiversity areas by enabling and implementing an effective stewardship programme, and promoting co-management arrangements.
  • Strengthening the formalisation and management of a representative network of Marine Protected Areas.
  • Promoting protected areas as assets that build resilience to climate change and unlock the biodiversity economy, especially through tourism and job creation.

For more information on effective protection please visit the CapeNature website.

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