There may be two years remaining until 2021 when the Succulent Karoo Ecosystem Programme (SKEP) reaches the end of its formal 20-Year Strategy implementation period. However, over the past two and half years the SKEP Steering Committee has worked hard at reinvigorating the programme and revitalising commitment from the institutional partners of SKEP. This was made possible through funding from the Leslie Hill Succulent Karoo Trust (LHSKT) through the World Wide Fund for Nature South Africa (WWF-SA).

This project period saw the SKEP Steering Committee implementing a two-year project which has resulted in:

  • A decentralised governance structure to coordinate the partnership over the next two years;
  • A project celebratory event, dubbed ‘SKEP Saam’, which was held on the 7th of August 2018, where SKEP partners gathered at the Hantam National Botanical Garden in Nieuwoudtville to celebrate 18 years of innovative implementation of conserving biodiversity in the Succulent Karoo. The event attracted 60 SKEP partners;
  • The adoption of a SKEP Constitution, drafted on the basis of the outcomes of the consultative process undertaken over the past two years and approved by the Steering Committee. At the SKEP Saam event the assembly collectively proposed values and principles to be included in the SKEP Constitution, and agreed to a number of minor amendments to a draft presented there. The SKEP Constitution has now been adopted and endorsed by the SKEP partners.

It has become clear over 18 years of SKEP implementation that there is a lot of which SKEP can proudly boast. What sustains efforts and drives momentum is the broad Vision of SKEP, which states: ‘The people of the Succulent Karoo take ownership of and enjoy their unique living landscape in a way that maintains biodiversity and improves livelihoods now and into perpetuity.’

The importance of the 20-Year SKEP Strategy and how it aligns to priorities of its institutional partners such as addressing sustainability and socio-economic challenges, climate change and drought, remains relevant to the partnership. Going forward may require the SKEP partners to consider how it can address these types of threats and opportunities in the next 20 years of the succulent Karoo as a globally recognised biodiversity hotspot.

The new SKEP Steering Committee consists of:

  1. Chairperson: Shannon Parring – Indigo Development & Change
  2. Vice Chairperson: Ismail Ebrahim – South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
  3. Secretariat: Eugene Marinus – SANBI
  4. Francois van der Merwe – Leslie Hill Succulent Karoo Trust
  5. Malebu Manyala – Northern Cape Department of Environment and Nature Conservation
  6. Ronnie Newman – Conservation South Africa
  7. Elbe Cloete – CapeNature
  8. Pieter van Wyk – South African National Parks
  9. Kerry Purnell – Wilderness Foundation Africa
  10. Jan Coetzee – World Wide Fund for Nature South Africa

The SKEP Steering Committee is guided by a Terms of Reference and developed a set of objectives to steer its work, including focus areas. The SKEP Steering Committee will continue to meet once a quarter at the Hantam National Botanical Garden in Nieuwoudtville. Members of the SKEP partnership are welcome to contribute any comments, questions or suggestions under consideration for the SKEP Steering Committee.

For more information contact Eugene Marinus on

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