Land Reform and Biodiversity Stewardship Initiative strategic review has been finalised

The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), through the Biodiversity and Land Use project, has concluded a strategic review of the Land Reform and Biodiversity Stewardship Initiative (LRBSI) to provide insight and recommendations on how the initiative can be supported and strengthened.

The LRBSI was launched in 2009 and marked 10 years of implementation in 2019. This presented an opportune time to reflect on the work of the initiative to date.

The initiative is a partnership between SANBI, Department of Environment Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) and the Department of Agriculture Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD). It intends to drive biodiversity stewardship activity on land restitution and reform sites, and other forms of communally-owned land, in an effort to cultivate meaningful benefits for beneficiaries and community members living on land administered by traditional authorities. This is envisaged to be achieved through the creation of new protected areas that can provide opportunities for economic and business development as well as job creation.

The core objectives of the review were to determine:

  • How the community of practice (related to biodiversity stewardship) can be strengthened and improved,
  • What role SANBI could play in the biodiversity stewardship landscape,
  • How the LRBSI can be strengthened via a network of collaborative partnerships.

Although the LRBSI was reinvigorated in 2017 with the permanent appointment of the LRBSI officer based at SANBI, the way forward was uncertain. Due to the LRBSI being inactive for a few years, the purpose and goals of the initiative needed to be re-evaluated with a view to how these goals should be achieved going forward. Understanding the dynamic nature of the current biodiversity stewardship landscape within South Africa in more depth would allow SANBI and partners to make well-informed and meaningful changes to the LRBSI.

Findings suggest that the LRBSI should primarily maintain a facilitative role where it focuses on acting as an anchor for stewardship in the country by facilitating and linking key engagement platforms, levels of government and partnerships. It should link itself, its outputs and desired outcomes to other key national programmes (such as the biodiversity economy, green economy and waste economy) to create strategic linkages and ensure the relevancy of the programme on a national scale.

The LRBSI should position itself as a cross-platform initiative, where it should work towards breaking down silos by increasing its influence in strategic administrative tasks such as legislation and policies relating to stewardship, environment, social development, sustainable practices and resource utilisation. Lastly the initiative must internally reach consensus on what the role of each principal partner (SANBI, DEFF and DALRRD) is within the Initiative and share this with the community of practice, so as to encourage alignment.

A detailed report comprising of key findings and recommendations on the LRBSI coordination,  successes, key limitations and how to address those limitations has been completed. The  report is available on request from the SANBI.

For more information contact Mpho Ratshikhopha (Gumula) at

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