Virtual Online Symposium - Parallel Session Parallel Session | General Session | Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion CE Credits : 0.3
01 Nov 2021 11:30 AM - 28 Feb 2022 01:30 PM(Africa/Johannesburg)
20211101T1130 20211101T1330 Africa/Johannesburg Session Three: Land Use Change and Land Use Planning

Conservation planning for biodiversity within anthropogenic landscapes is crucial given the rate of habitat conversion and human population growth. Investigating anthropogenic impacts on the persistence of biodiversity is key to management decision-making. This session will present examples of how land use is changing, assess implications for biodiversity, and evaluate response measures in terms of planning.

Land cover change in marginalised landscapes of South Africa (1984-2014): Implications for socio-ecological resilienceBuster MogonongUniversity of the WitwatersrandSocio-ecological legacy effects on grassland transformation in the Drakensberg region of South AfricaPaul GordijnSouth African Environmental Observation NetworkA novel system for enabling community environmental governance and complianceCherise Acker-CooperEndangered Wildlife TrustImportance of tourist sites in the conservation of floristic diversity: The case of the Atacora waterfalls in the North West of BeninStella SokponUniversity of ParakouLearning from biodiversity offsets implementation within eThekwini Municipality (Durban), South AfricaSabelo NkosieThekwini MunicipalityThe threat of power lines to two African vulture speciesCaroline HannwegVulProBat guilds respond differently to habitat loss and fragmentation in macadamia orchards, South AfricaDr. Sina WeierUniversity of the Free State

Virtual Online Symposium - Parallel Session The Conservation Symposium secretariat@conservationsymposium.com


Conservation planning for biodiversity within anthropogenic landscapes is crucial given the rate of habitat conversion and human population growth. Investigating anthropogenic impacts on the persistence of biodiversity is key to management decision-making. This session will present examples of how land use is changing, assess implications for biodiversity, and evaluate response measures in terms of planning.

Land cover change in marginalised landscapes of South Africa (1984-2014): Implications for socio-ecological resilience

Buster Mogonong
University of the Witwatersrand
Socio-ecological legacy effects on grassland transformation in the Drakensberg region of South Africa

Paul Gordijn
South African Environmental Observation Network
A novel system for enabling community environmental governance and compliance

Cherise Acker-Cooper
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Importance of tourist sites in the conservation of floristic diversity: The case of the Atacora waterfalls in the North West of Benin

Stella Sokpon
University of Parakou
Learning from biodiversity offsets implementation within eThekwini Municipality (Durban), South Africa

Sabelo Nkosi
eThekwini Municipality
The threat of power lines to two African vulture species

Caroline Hannweg
VulPro
Bat guilds respond differently to habitat loss and fragmentation in macadamia orchards, South Africa

Dr. Sina Weier
University of the Free State


NOTE: The presentation by Andilyat Mohamed Abderemane (The vegetation of Ngazidja Island, Comoros Archipelago, a landscape with recent lava flows and current anthropic pressures) has been withdrawn.

Session Three Introduction
Introductions & Discussions 11:30 AM - 11:35 AM (Africa/Johannesburg) 2021/11/01 09:30:00 UTC - 2022/02/28 09:35:00 UTC
Presenters Natalie Hayward
CapeNature
Land cover change in marginalised landscapes of South Africa (1984-2014): Implications for socio-ecological resilience Watch Recording
Presentation 11:35 AM - 11:47 AM (Africa/Johannesburg) 2021/11/01 09:35:00 UTC - 2022/02/28 09:47:00 UTC

Rural landscapes in South Africa are potentially subject to land-use changes that depend on the history of the area. In heavily populated marginalised landscapes, land-use change leads to land cover change with implications for socio-ecological landscapes. We assessed patterns of land cover change in two local municipalities in uThukela District Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal, using Landsat imagery from 1984, 1991 and 2014. Land cover was classified using a random forest classifier in R studio, and accuracies ranging from 87% to 90% were achieved. Systematic and intensity analysis methods were used to describe patterns, rates and transition of land cover change in Imbabazane (ILM) and Okhahlamba (OLM) Local Municipalities. The rate of change intensity of land cover change was reduced from 4.6% to 1.8% in ILM and from 3.7% to 1.5% in OLM in the assessment period. Grassland was the dominant land cover class, covering over 60% and 70% in ILM and OLM. During the analysis period, settlements and croplands increased in both local municipalities, leading to a reduction in grassland cover (26.5% and 14.2% decline in ILM and OLM, respectively). Secondary grassland grew in fallow lands; we did not, however, quantify the extent or assess the quality and diversity of these areas. Future research is needed to evaluate the transition rate between secondary and natural grassland in previously farmed areas to understand the influence of agricultural abandonment on biodiversity and ecosystem services in rural areas. Our results indicate a degree of ecological resilience through the persistence of natural vegetation (i.e. grassland).

Presenters Buster Mogonong
Wits Uiniversity
Co-authors Jolene Fisher
University Of The Witwatersrand
David Furniss
University Of The Witwatersrand
Debbie Jewitt
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Socio-ecological legacy effects on grassland transformation in the Drakensberg region of South Africa Watch Recording
Presentation 11:47 AM - 11:59 AM (Africa/Johannesburg) 2021/11/01 09:47:00 UTC - 2022/02/28 09:59:00 UTC

The grassland biodiversity of mountainous regions is especially vulnerable to global change. The relatively higher rainfall of these regions has made them centres of agricultural development. Understanding socio-ecological influences on land use and land cover change (LULCC) has the potential to reduce uncertainty around the largest driver of terrestrial biodiversity loss⁠-land transformation. This study assessed LULCC over contrasting land tenure types, which reflect the complexity of social system components in the Cathkin area of the biodiversity-rich KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg region, wherein communal, private, and protected land tenures exist. Interactions between social and ecological system components and their influence on grassland transformation were assessed using hierarchical generalised additive modelling. The success of detecting secondary grassland (e.g. vegetated old fields) was maximised by using the earliest available, from 1945, and most recent comparable orthophotos from 2016, for classification using 47 land cover categories. Once disturbed by agricultural activities, grassland plant diversity may not recover in over a millennium. Over 70 years, a total of 144 different changes in land cover were recorded; 25% of the 647 km2 of grassland present in 1945 was lost. Only 4.1% of grassland, on protected systems that were funded and driven by evidence-based management, was lost. On private land, where associated investment incentives and wealth were higher, 43% of grassland was lost, in part due to afforestation which destroys ancient grassland diversity and reduces the water yield of these critical catchment areas. On communal systems, where access to land was uncertain, 17% of grassland was lost-two-fold less than on private land. Patches of erosion on communal grasslands signal a possible threat to biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Private systems pushed the environmental envelope the furthest in transforming steeper and drier grassland habitats. Lowland biodiversity is under the greatest threat with high levels of transformation, limited refugia under climate change, and a relatively greater threat of invasive plants. Further transformation of lowland grasslands has to be stopped and future conservation efforts have to be cognisant of socio-ecological dynamics. Evidence-based management, which has been critical for the conservation of these grasslands, requires strong support.

Presenters Paul Gordijn
South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)
Co-authors Timothy O'Connor
South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)
Debbie Jewitt
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
A novel system for enabling community environmental governance and compliance Watch Recording
Presentation 12:00 Noon - 12:07 PM (Africa/Johannesburg) 2021/11/01 10:00:00 UTC - 2022/02/28 10:07:00 UTC

Environmental governance within the environmental legislative framework is complex and barriers such as lack of capacity hinder compliance and enforcement. Additionally, the priority for social development often leaves environmental governance as a lower priority or after-thought. Furthermore, the strained relationship between some communities and government institutions has hampered development in this regard. Consequent lack of environmental governance threatens ecological integrity in areas of biodiversity significance. In response, the Endangered Wildlife Trust initiated a six-month pilot project to trial a community-centred environmental compliance enabling system within areas of ecological significance namely, Adams Mission and Normandien, in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). Initially, a local community representative per site was capacitated as an Environmental Compliance Officer (ECO) through an "Introduction to Environmental Legislation in South Africa" course aligned with the South African Qualifications Authority framework. The course consists of five modules focused on navigating environmental acts and providing a contextual understanding of the value of environmental legislation. With this knowledge, ECOs conducted compliance assessments using an "Environmental Legislation Compliance Assessment app" to identify, categorise, and map local issues. To measure the level of impact of these issues, ECOs used the Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and Environment's environmental screening tool (EST) to identify environmental sensitivities. Outcomes of assessments and reports were collated and presented to relevant authorities, where responses were determined and initiated. This governance system assisted authorities to identify environmental compliance trends and network with mandated enforcement authorities to address issues. Example transgressions included developments along watercourses in Adams Mission and illegal mining in Normandien. As such, relationships were established with mandated authorities such as Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and the Department of Minerals and Energy which facilitated effective enforcement. This approach demonstrates that environmental governance can be achieved and leveraged through the institutionalisation of knowledge, understanding, and networks within all levels of a community.

Presenters Cherise Acker-Cooper
The Endangered Wildlife Trust
Importance of tourist sites in the conservation of floristic diversity: The case of the Atacora waterfalls in the northwest of Benin Watch Recording
Presentation 12:07 PM - 12:19 PM (Africa/Johannesburg) 2021/11/01 10:07:00 UTC - 2022/02/28 10:19:00 UTC

The conservation of natural resources requires actions that respect the environment. The floristic diversity of an environment can be used to guide conservation and inform sustainable activities such as ecotourism. The objective of this study was to evaluate the floristic diversity in the tourist sites of Atacora in the northwest of Benin. A floristic inventory was carried out in the plant communities around four sites: the Kota, Tanongou, Koussoucoingou, and Tanguiéta waterfalls. These sites were characterised by a great specific richness with a total of 68 woody species divided into 21 families. Ten Threatened plant species appearing on the Benin Red List, including five on the IUCN Red List, were present within these eco-tourism sites. While logging was once widespread on these sites, it is now prohibited. These sites are therefore characterised by the abundance of young individuals of the plant community whose diameters are between 10 cm and 30 cm. With respective specific richnesses of (36, 35, 33 and 33), we can say that the tourist sites of Kota, Tanongou, Koussoucoingou, and Tanguiéta contribute to the conservation of floristic diversity in the region of Atacora in particular and in Benin in general. Although these sites are currently protected by the local population who are beginning to understand their importance, there is an urgent need to put in place legal statutes for the protection of their biodiversity and to support ecotourism activities around them.

Presenters Stella Sokpon
University Of Parakou
Learning from biodiversity offsets implementation within eThekwini Municipality (Durban), South Africa Watch Recording
Presentation 12:20 PM - 12:32 PM (Africa/Johannesburg) 2021/11/01 10:20:00 UTC - 2022/02/28 10:32:00 UTC

The use of biodiversity offsets has expanded internationally over the past four decades. However, amidst the wealth of offset practices, there seems to be limited empirical follow-up research to learn from practice. Therefore, the main focus of this research was to determine, "What can be learnt from the implementation of biodiversity offsets within eThekwini Municipality?". In order to answer the research question, three research objectives were designed namely, i) to evaluate the level of conformance to the eleven best practice offset principles that have been established in the South African context, ii) to understand the factors affecting the level of conformance, and iii) to evaluate the effect of timing on the offset outcomes. In this context, outcomes mean conformance to best practice principles and the quality, viability, and enforceability of biodiversity offsets. The methods relied on document review and semi-structured interviews with various stakeholders involved in five purposefully selected biodiversity offset case studies from eThekwini Municipality (EM). The research results show that the case studies from EM conform to only three best practice principles and partially conform to eight principles. Furthermore, the timing of the introduction of the offset influenced the overall conformance to the best practice principles. In addition, the timing when the offset was proposed negatively influenced the quality, viability, and enforceability of biodiversity offsets when the offset is introduced too late in the EIA (environmental impact assessment) process. As a result, the implementation of biodiversity offsets does not achieve the intended biodiversity outcomes. It is concluded that the adoption of a national policy for biodiversity offsets is long overdue and should be implemented as a matter of urgency to guide practice. Furthermore, this research recommends capacity building for biodiversity stakeholders on the best practice principles.

Presenters Sabelo B Nkosi
EThekwini Municipality
The threat of power lines to two African vulture species Watch Recording
Presentation 12:32 PM - 12:44 PM (Africa/Johannesburg) 2021/11/01 10:32:00 UTC - 2022/02/28 10:44:00 UTC

Vultures play a critical role in an ecosystem as obligate scavengers, cleaning up carcasses, helping to rid the landscape of communicable diseases, and cycling nutrients back into the system. Despite their importance, they are still considered one of the most threatened avian groups globally, with power lines being a major threat to vultures in South Africa. This study aims to create a density map of sites where vultures cross power lines across South Africa to implement the necessary proactive mitigation strategies to make power lines more vulture safe. To do this, 74 African white-backed vultures (Gyps africanus) and Cape vultures (G. coprotheres) were fitted with GPS tracking devices and were tracked for an average of 406 days across South Africa. Home range estimations were calculated using the kernel density estimator (KDE). Further, power line crossings were estimated by points of tracked trajectories that crossed power lines. Finally, power line incidents involving vultures were mapped across South Africa in comparison to power lines in the landscape. Our analysis found that large portions of these species home ranges fell outside protected areas (33.1% and 6.7% for G. africanus and G. coprotheres respectively) making them more vulnerable to power line incidents. These crossings were mostly concentrated in the North West, Limpopo and central Eastern Cape provinces. Power line incidents were found to have occurred close to Cape vulture breeding colonies and supplementary feeding sites, and supported the finding of previous studies that electrocution incidents were more likely to occur on distribution lines while collision incidents were more likely to occur on transmission lines. Our findings from this study support the conclusion that power lines are a major threat to vultures in South Africa. Our suggestion for the management of these species is to prioritise the proactive mitigation of power lines around vulture breeding colonies and supplementary feeding sites, but further hotspot sites should be identified within their range in order to implement measures to slow the effect of power lines on vultures in Africa.

Presenters Caroline Hannweg
VulPro
Co-authors Ryno Kemp
VulPro NPC
SA
Sarah Aspenstrom
School Of Applied Sciences, Edinburgh Napier University
Alexandra Howard
University Of The Free State, Qwaqwa
Kishaylin Chetty
Eskom
Rob Briers
Edinburgh Napier University
Kerri Wolter
VulPro
Bat guilds respond differently to habitat loss and fragmentation in macadamia orchards, South Africa Watch Recording
Presentation 12:45 PM - 12:57 PM (Africa/Johannesburg) 2021/11/01 10:45:00 UTC - 2022/02/28 10:57:00 UTC

Bats have been shown to provide successful pest suppression in different land-use systems globally. Recent research demonstrates high economic values of pest suppression by bats, which is enhanced by natural habitat patches at orchard edges. We investigated the impact of the conversion of natural to agricultural (macadamia-dominated) habitats. Using ~65,000 recorded bat call sequences, we studied bat communities in three land-use types: a nature reserve, and macadamia orchards with and without adjacent natural habitat patches. All study sites were situated on the southern slopes of the Soutpansberg, South Africa. Species richness varied significantly between the nature reserve and the macadamia orchards, but not between orchards with and without neighbouring natural habitats. Within the orchards, the activity of edge space foraging (dependent on e.g. forest edges) bats was greater at natural edges, whereas open space aerial foraging species (hunting above the canopy) were more active at human-modified edges. Although seven narrow space foraging (i.e. dense vegetation dependent) bat species were identified at both orchards and reserve, this foraging guild occurred more frequently in the nature reserve (2.9–4.1% of all call sequences) than in the orchards (0.5–2.9% of all call sequences). Narrow space foraging bats were thus largely excluded from simplified agricultural landscapes, in particular where natural edge habitats are missing. The current trend in the conversion of natural habitat in favour of macadamia monocultures, especially if remnant natural patches at orchard boundaries are removed, will have widespread detrimental effects on bat diversity. The resulting reduced biological pest suppression by bats and increased reliance on chemical control may exacerbate biodiversity declines. Our results highlight the importance of natural and semi-natural edge vegetation and corridors in macadamia orchards to provide connectivity, foraging and roosting sites, and to promote the diversity of bat species and their ecosystem service provision.

Presenters Sina Weier
UFS
Co-authors Valerie Linden
University Of Venda
Antonia Hammer
University Of Greifswald
Ingo Grass
University Of Hohenheim
Teja Tscharntke
University Of Goettingen
Peter Taylor
University Of The Freestate
Question and Answer Session with Moderated Discussion: Land Use Change and Land Use Planning Watch Recording
Introductions & Discussions 12:57 PM - 01:30 PM (Africa/Johannesburg) 2021/11/01 10:57:00 UTC - 2022/02/28 11:30:00 UTC
Presenters Natalie Hayward
CapeNature
Co-authors Buster Mogonong
Wits Uiniversity
Paul Gordijn
South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)
Cherise Acker-Cooper
The Endangered Wildlife Trust
Stella Sokpon
University Of Parakou
Sabelo B Nkosi
EThekwini Municipality
Caroline Hannweg
VulPro
Sina Weier
UFS
Wits Uiniversity
The Endangered Wildlife Trust
University of Parakou
EThekwini Municipality
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