The Western Cape Biodiversity Spatial Plan is the product of a systematic biodiversity planning assessment that delineates, on a map, Critical Biodiversity Areas (CBAs) and Ecological Support Areas (ESAs) which require safeguarding to ensure the continued existence and functioning of species and ecosystems, including the delivery of ecosystem services, across terrestrial and freshwater realms.

These spatial priorities are used to inform sustainable development in the Western Cape Province. This product replaces all previous systematic biodiversity planning products and sector plans with updated layers and features.

The Biodiversity and Land Use (BLU) project has been able to support implementation across all 5 (five) areas of the Western Cape Biodiversity Spatial Plan (WCBSP) implementation strategy, namely: (a) an enabling environment – by enhancing the legal status of the plan, (b) awareness and support – included a launch event and development of written materials to assist with using and interpreting the plan, (c) planning and decision-making – entailed a range of information sharing workshops with local municipalities, environment assessment practitioners and biodiversity specialists, (d) monitoring and evaluation – tracking of how the BSP is taken up into forward planning and how it affects decision-making, and (e) compliance and enforcement – supporting combating illegal land clearing.

Specific to supporting an enabling environment, the Western Cape Biodiversity Bill is the main tool through which the WCBSP gains legal status. CapeNature has engaged via providing formal input to the Bill. In terms of awareness and support, in collaboration with the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (DEA&DP) an accessible, and easy to understand ‘Overview of the WCBSP’ booklet has been compiled.

The WCBSP map is available on SANBI BGIS and CapeFarmMapper (a popular and accessible mapping tool used by EAPs and specialists). Capacity provided by the BLU project supported the uptake of the CBA and ESA ‘reasons’ layer onto CapeFarmMapper.

In relation to planning and decision-making, the BLU project has supported provision of formal comment on local municipal Spatial Development Frameworks (SDFs), which has been ongoing with every update to local and district municipal SDFs.

The BLU project quarterly planning meetings have supported closer collaboration with the DEA&DP’s Directorate of Environmental Law Enforcement and there has been an improvement in stream lining of comments, specifically within S24G processes, thus enabling improved compliance and enforcement toward enhanced biodiversity outcomes.

For more information on the WCBSP, please contract Philippa Huntly

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