There are numerous links between rural development, land reform, the biodiversity economy and biodiversity stewardship. All of these activities occur in rural landscapes, where natural biodiversity remains. Biodiversity stewardship can stimulate rural development by diversifying rural livelihood options; it can create a focus for a range of alternative rural development activities, such as eco-tourism, game farming, sustainable natural resource harvesting and other small business possibilities.

This is especially beneficial in agriculturally marginal areas, where traditional farming is less viable. At the same time, Biodiversity stewardship can help to ensure that natural resources are used sustainably and remnants of biodiversity is conserved.

In addition to securing biodiversity through protected area expansion, biodiversity stewardship also supports a number of other environmental objectives which includes climate change adaptation, securing ecological infrastructure and supporting climate change objectives. In addition, biodiversity stewardship supports the developmental agenda of the country by supporting livelihoods in rural communities.

To communicate this important work, SANBI; under the Biodiversity stewardship component of the Biodiversity Land Use Project has developed a factsheet showcasing the benefits of biodiversity stewardship in communal land and land reform sites. The factsheet provides background to Biodiversity stewardship principles, the links with rural development, the land reform and the Biodiversity economy, the Land Reform and Biodiversity Stewardship Initiative and two examples of community case studies.

The first case study is on the Mgundeni community who lives near Utrecht in KwaZulu-Natal. In 2009, it was the first in the country to sign a Biodiversity stewardship agreement on communally-owned land. The community initially opted for a 124 ha Biodiversity Agreement, but has since upgraded to a Protected Environment of 455 ha. The community has been supported by WWF-South Africa.

The second case study is on the Nambiti Private Game Reserve.  Nambiti is a 9 859 ha ‘Big-5’ reserve near Ladysmith in KwaZulu-Natal that was subject to a successful land claim, and is owned by the Senzo’kuhle Nkos’uNodada Community Trust. It was declared a Nature Reserve in 2013. It provides a remarkable model of cooperation between a community and the private sector.

More information and tangible benefits for both case studies have been detailed in the factsheet which can be accessed on the Biodiversity Advisor website.


For more information contact Natasha Wilson on 021 799 8866 or

Article by: Mpho Gumula

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