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The Conservation Symposium 2021

Final Programme

The Conservation Symposium is a platform to facilitate the sharing of ideas and lessons, and for the co-creation of solutions to contemporary conservation issues in Africa. While many presentations showcase the latest science, it is not a traditional science symposium but rather a conservation symposium that evaluates the implications of the science to the practice of nature conservation, and strengthens the evidence-base for effective conservation interventions. It also serves as a bridge between conservation practitioners, scientists and policymakers, thereby facilitating effective problem-solving. 

Current and emerging issues identified by the conservation sector have been tackled through a carefully constructed programme. A number of leading international keynote speakers and African scientists, who are making an impact globally, have been invited to present. In addition to 150 presentations spread over five days, there are several panel discussions intended to contribute to policy direction and development. A broad range of issues have been integrated in a meaningful way, hopefully creating and strengthening connections both within and between disciplines. 

Given the history of the symposium, content is still predominantly grounded in southern Africa, but the results, lessons and outcomes are relevant to conservation across the continent. We hope, with the advent of virtual or hybrid formats, to increase contributions and participation from across the continent.

The Conservation Symposium 2021 is brought to you through a collaborative partnership and in-kind contributions from several conservation and academic organisations, institutions and associations. Thanks to generous financial contributions from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, CapeNature and WildTrust, participation in the online symposium is free, thereby overcoming barriers to participation by African conservation practitioners.
 


Preliminary Programme Overview


09h00 to 11h15

11h30 to 13h30

14h00 to 21h00

MONDAY
 1 NOV 2021

Opening Session: Climate Change, COVID and Conservation - The Future is Here

Session Two: Conserving in the Face of Global Change

South African delegates voting in municipal elections

Session Three: Land Use Change and Land Use Planning


09h00 to 11h15

11h30 to 13h30

14h00 to 16h00

TUESDAY
 2 NOV 2021

Session Four: UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration: Opportunities, Risks and the Role of African Science

Session Five: Restoration and Recovery of Species and Ecosystems

Session Seven: Monitoring and Surveillance for Biodiversity Management

Session Eight: Lead (Pb) and Wildlife: Issues, Challenges and Progress Towards Ensuring Wildlife is Not Harmed by Exposure to Lead


Session Six: Marine Mining: Conservation Issues during Exploration and Exploitation

Session Nine: Conservation Café I


09h00 to 11h15

11h30 to 13h30

14h00 to 16h00



WEDNESDAY
 3 NOV 2021

Session Ten: Values and Value in the Wildlife EconomySession Eleven: Sustainable Resource Use – Finding the BalanceSession Thirteen: Plant Conservation Strategies in Southern Africa

Session Fourteen: Genetic Management Guidelines for African Animals

Session Twelve: Anthropogenic Threats to Biodiversity

Session Fifteen: Conservation Café II


09h00 to 11h15

11h30 to 13h30

14h00 to 16h00

THURSDAY
 4 NOV 2021

Session Sixteen: Alien and Invasive Species

Session Seventeen: Management Effectiveness and Threats to Protected Areas

Session Nineteen: Recent Legal Developments in the Conservation Sphere

Session Eighteen: Management of Invasive Alien Animals in South Africa

Session Twenty: Conservation Café III

Breakaway Meeting: CAPE Invasive Alien Animal Working Group


09h00 to 11h15

11h30 to 13h30

13h45 to 14h30

FRIDAY
 5 NOV 2021

Session Twenty-One: Ensuring Functional and Effective Marine Protected Areas

Session Twenty-Two: Putting Marine Conservation into Marine Spatial Planning

Closing Session: The Conservation Symposium 2021 - Celebrations, Reflections and Awards Ceremony

Session Twenty-Three: Mainstreaming Biodiversity Databases into Decision Making for Conservation Impact in Africa


Monday, 01 Nov 2021
09:00AM - 11:15AM
Virtual Online Symposium - Plenary Session
Opening Session: Climate Change, COVID and Conservation - The Future is Here
Format : Plenary Session | Keynote Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Moderators
Joe Phadima, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife


This plenary session will summarise the latest climate change projections for Africa with a focus on southern Africa and explore some of the socio-economic consequences that set the conditions in which conservation operates. In addition to climate change and a multitude of other growing anthropogenic threats to biodiversity, the COVID pandemic has had significant consequences for conservation, including conservation financing and the viability and focus of conservation agencies and NGOs. The global conservation response in the context of climate change, the pandemic and many other anthropogenic threats, will be assessed based on the key actions and resolutions coming out of the IUCN World Conservation Conference held in September 2021. This session will set the scene for the deliberations for the remainder of the symposium.

Climate change and regional tipping points in southern Africa

Prof. Francois EngelbrechtGlobal Change Institute, University of the Witwatersrand
Climate change risks to biodiversity in Africa: Risks and response options

Assoc. Prof. Felix Kalaba & Dr. Christopher TrisosCopperbelt University & African Climate and Development Initiative, University of Cape Town
Adapt or die: The non-profit sector's scramble to survive in a world that changed overnight

Dr. Harriet Davies-Mostert
Head of Conservation, Endangered Wildlife Trust


NOTE: The presentation by Coral Birss (Reflections on the IUCN World Conservation Congress and draft Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework through the lens of a provincial conservation entity) has been withdrawn.

Direct Zoom link (only use if the Join Live button above fails) - https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81345801867

Opening Session Welcome and Introduction
09:00AM - 09:05AM
Presented by :
Joe Phadima, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Welcome to The Conservation Symposium 2021, a message from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
09:05AM - 09:10AM
Presented by :
Ntsikelelo Wiseman Dlulane, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Climate change and regional tipping points in southern Africa
09:10AM - 09:45AM
Presented by :
Francois Engelbrecht, University Of The Witwatersrand

In August 2021, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Assessment Report Six (AR6) Working Group I report, which has since been described as a 'code red' for humanity. The report assesses that global warming has reached a value of about 1.1°C relative to pre-industrial temperature, close to the dangerous thresholds of 1.5 and 2°C. The 1.5°C threshold is more likely than not to be exceeded, even in the presence of "best-effort" mitigation, and this exceedance may occur as soon as the early 2030s. Southern Africa is naturally a dry and warm region, which the report assesses is certain to become drastically warmer, and likely also generally drier, under low mitigation futures. Even if global warming can be restricted to a 1.5–2°C increase in temperature, southern Africa is projected to experience more intense heat waves and more frequent droughts. When a warm and dry region becomes warmer and drier, the options for adaptation are limited, which is the key reason why southern Africa has been classified as a climate change hotspot by the IPCC's Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C (2018). Under low mitigation, regional tipping points may be reached in the region during the 21st century, in the context of both water security (potential 'day zero droughts' in key cities) and food security (potential collapse of the maize crop and cattle industry).

Climate change risks to biodiversity in Africa: Risks and response options
09:45AM - 10:20AM
Presented by :
Christopher Trisos, University Of Cape Town
Felix Kanungwe Kalaba, Copperbelt University

This talk will present a broad review of risks to biodiversity across Africa from climate change, including marine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems. It will also include indirect risks to biodiversity from climate change, such as risks from shifting agricultural zones or large-scale land-based carbon dioxide removal projects. Lastly, it will highlight promising Ecosystem-based Adaptation options.

Adapt or die: The non-profit sector’s scramble to survive in a world that changed overnight
10:20AM - 10:50AM
Presented by :
Harriet Davies-Mostert, Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT)

Resilience is the ability of a system to recover from shocks, bounce back, and even flourish in the face of adversity. The COVID pandemic represents one of the biggest shocks our generation has seen. The first human cases of COVID were confirmed in Wuhan, China, in December 2019 and the World Health Organisation declared a global pandemic on 11 March 2020. In just a few short weeks, governments worldwide instituted wide-ranging measures to curb the spread of the disease, including lockdowns, travel restrictions, curfews, and business closures. South Africa was a rapid responder, with President Ramaphosa declaring a National State of Disaster on 23 March 2020. Across the globe, these responses led to cascading socio-economic impacts, as economies shrank, unemployment levels rose sharply, health systems became over-run, and fear set in. The social impact sector was dealt a double blow, experiencing both a downturn in income and the expectation of ramping up its work, needed now more than ever before. Significant changes and fluctuations in funding, together with restrictions on movement, made it necessary to find new ways of delivering services and ensuring operational effectiveness. By adopting salary reductions or cutting hours, embracing new ways of working, and shifting programming to include COVID-related activities, many NPOs could save costs and increase efficiencies, demonstrating resilience in their response to the pandemic that would ensure their survival. In this talk, I explore some of the actions NPOs and their partners and funders have taken in response to the global pandemic and reflect on how key lessons from COVID might be applied to ensure resilience in the face of the looming existential calamities of the climate emergency and the biodiversity crisis.

Question and Answer Session with Moderated Discussion: Climate Change, COVID and Conservation - The Future is Here
10:50AM - 11:15AM
Presented by :
Joe Phadima, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Co-authors :
Francois Engelbrecht, University Of The Witwatersrand
Felix Kanungwe Kalaba, Copperbelt University
Christopher Trisos, University Of Cape Town
Harriet Davies-Mostert, Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT)
11:30AM - 01:30PM
Virtual Online Symposium - Parallel Session
Session Two: Conserving in the Face of Global Change
Format : Parallel Session | General Session | Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Moderators
Kevin Kirkman, University Of KwaZulu-Natal


Following the plenary session on climate change projections, broader impacts of the COVID pandemic, and the global conservation responses, this session will report on some local science and responses in relation to global change issues.

Western Cape State of Conservation Report 2020

Philippa HuntlyCapeNature
Recognising, assessing and reporting OECMs in the Western Cape, South Africa

Bronwyn MareeBirdLife South Africa
Ecophysiological constrains on the distribution of Podocarpaceae in South Africa

Thando Caroline Twala
University of the Witwatersrand
Responses of seagrass (Zostera capensis) ecotypes to selected environmental factors

Mosihla Frederick MokumoStellenbosch University
Bioregional differences in physiological performance of a South African seagrass (Zostera capensis)

Jessie YuillStellenbosch University
Can protected areas be used to further mitigate the effects of climate change?

Siphesihle LekokotlaNdlovu de Villiers Attorneys
The impacts of a global pandemic on contemporary wildlife conservation: A symptom of a pre-existing condition?

Dr. David Ehlers SmithUniversity of KwaZulu-Natal
The impacts of COVID on contemporary wildlife conservation: The symptoms may have abated, but are we heading for a different kind of pandemic?

Dr. Yvette Ehlers SmithEzemvelo KZN Wildlife
The increasing numbers of poaching incidents in post-COVID lockdown at Ditholo Nature Reserve

Forgive MalulekeTshwane University of Technology

Direct Zoom link (only use if the Join Live button above fails) - https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89355848959

Session Two Introduction
11:00AM - 11:05AM
Presented by :
Kevin Kirkman, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Western Cape State of Conservation Report 2020
11:35AM - 11:47AM
Presented by :
Philippa Huntly , CapeNature
Co-authors :
Coral Birss, Executive Director: Biodiversity Capabilities, CapeNature

The Western Cape State of Conservation Report 2020 is the first of a series of new annual reports that responds to the urgency of the global biodiversity crisis via providing an up-to-date snapshot of the status of species and ecosystems at a provincial level. It is important in this region of high endemism not only to monitor trends in abundance and threat status, but also to integrate the findings of the National Biodiversity Assessment 2018, assess progress on recommendations of the most recent State of Biodiversity Report, and feature conservation tools and strategies. Responses to more pervasive cross-cutting themes such as climate change and biodiversity crime are also provided. Biodiversity crime is a concern, and the report provides an overview of illegal large-scale removal of fauna and flora and CapeNature's active role in combatting this scourge. In the Western Cape, international syndicates typically target the arid Karoo areas where succulent plants and the charismatic armadillo girdled lizards (Ouroborus cataphractus) are poached for sale to overseas collectors and the pet trade. Gains and progress are celebrated, particularly in the targeted expansion of the conservation estate, and updated statistics are provided for the Western Cape Conservation Estate. The talk will also reflect on the challenges in producing a report of this nature on an annual basis, as well as the benefits and opportunities it provides. 

Recognising, assessing and reporting OECMs in the Western Cape, South Africa
11:47AM - 11:59AM
Presented by :
Bronwyn Maree, BirdLife South Africa
Co-authors :
Melissa Howes-Whitecross, BirdLife South Africa
Giselle Murison, BirdLife South Africa
Hanneline Smit-Robinson, BirdLife South Africa
Sarah Hulley, Conservation Outcomes
Kevin McCann, Conservation Outcomes NPC
Daniel Marnewick, International Union For Conservation Of Nature

The draft targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework have indicated that a new area-based target to replace Aichi Target 11 will aim to see 30% of the world's marine, freshwater, and terrestrial surface conserved by 2030. This will be achieved through the protection of the network of protected areas and the expansion of the conservation estate through an identified ecologically representative and well-connected network of "other effective area-based conservation measures" (OECMs). OECMs are a conservation designation for areas that are achieving long-term, effective in-situ conservation of biodiversity outside of protected areas. They will be a crucial mechanism for South Africa and the global community to achieve the new CBD 2030 Target 2. The identification of OECMs in South Africa will require both spatial planning and in-field assessments that will likely align strongly with the expansion of the biodiversity stewardship mechanism to ensure the safeguarding of potential OECMs in the future. BirdLife South Africa in collaboration with Conservation Outcomes, CapeNature, and the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment with support from the WWF Nedbank Green Trust, has commenced the first assessment of OECMs in the Western Cape. The aim is to spatially identify and assess the network of potential OECMs as a means of quantifying the capacity and resource requirements needed to effectively report on OECMs at a provincial scale. This project will form an important case study for other provincial assessments of OECMs in South Africa and will lay the foundation for national uptake of the OECM concept to enable South Africa to report on their full conservation estate to the IUCN World Protected Area Commission as a signatory of the CBD.

Ecophysiological constrains on the distribution of Podocarpaceae in South Africa
12:00 Noon - 12:12PM
Presented by :
Thando Caroline Twala, University Of The Witwatersrand
Co-authors :
Jolene Fisher, University Of The Witwatersrand
Kelsey Glennon, University Of The Witwatersrand

Although many studies have debated and stressed the theoretical links between physiology, ecological niches, and species distribution, very few studies have shown the coupling of these topics. The unique disjunct distribution of Podocarpaceae (podocarps) raises questions about which environmental drivers influence the distribution and environmental niches of podocarps, and how this links to their physiology. Here, we characterised the current and future (2070) natural distributions of four podocarps across South Africa and investigated the physiological and morphological responses of Afrocarpus falcatus (Outeniqua yellowwood) and Podocarpus henkelii (Henkel's yellowwood) to drought and/or heat stress. Climate, elevation, and mean monthly soil moisture (MMSM) data were used to characterise the current and future distribution and environmental niches of South African podocarps under two climate emissions scenarios using the random forest algorithm. We then used a PCA-env to evaluate the extent of overlap between the current and future environmental niches of each species. Afrocarpus falcatus, P. elongatus (Breede River yellowwood) and P. henkelii seedlings were exposed to drought and/or heat stress for five weeks to measure their responses. The current and future distributions of A. falcatus, P. latifolius (real yellowwood) and P. elongatus are constrained by winter rainfall, whereas the distribution of P. henkelii is constrained by MMSM. Afrocarpus falcatus and P. latifolius were found to have the broadest distribution and the largest environmental niches in comparison to P. elongatus and P. henkelii. Podocarpus henkelii was found to maintain physiological functioning and morphological integrity under drought and heat stress in comparison to A. falcatus which performed well under heat stress. This suggests that P. henkelii distribution is not confined by its physiology but perhaps by its reproductive biology and/or competition as it is a poor disperser. Therefore, the resilience and persistence of forest ecosystems and the biodiversity therein are most likely influenced by the ability of species to track suitable environmental niches.

Responses of seagrass (Zostera capensis) ecotypes to selected environmental factors
12:12PM - 12:24PM
Presented by :
Mosihla Frederick Mokumo, Stellenbosch University
Co-authors :
Sophie Von Der Heyden, Stellenbosch University
Guy Midgley, Stellenbosch University
Janine Adams, Nelson Mandela University

Zostera capensis is the dominant seagrass in South Africa with two ecotypes (intertidal and subtidal plants). Due to increasing anthropogenic and global climate change, populations of this ecosystem engineer are facing extirpation. The present study aims to elucidate meadow, shoot, and leaf-scale responses (herein referred to as seagrass responses) of ecotypes at different tidal heights and determine whether environmental variations (temperature, pH, light intensity, salinity, ecotype region, and estuary region) explain potential differences between ecotypes in Knysna Estuarine Bay. Generalized linear models were employed to elucidate significant differences between ecotypes. For meadow-scale responses (and when only ecotype region is considered), there was a significant difference between ecotypes in which subtidal plants had ~38% decrease in shoot density. When all other selected factors were considered, it was found that only light intensity had a significant effect on the differences in shoot density observed between ecotypes. Intertidal plants had higher shoot density than subtidal plants. This would induce self-shading to prevent drying out during low tide. These responses will help in predicting which ecotype is likely to survive extreme environmental conditions due to climate change and assist in prioritizing management and restoration projects.

Bioregional differences in physiological performance of an South African seagrass (Zostera capensis)
12:25PM - 12:37PM
Presented by :
Jessie Yuill, Stellenbosch University
Co-authors :
Sophie Von Der Heyden, Stellenbosch University
Guy Midgley, Stellenbosch University

Oceans are warming at an unprecedented rate, affecting marine ecosystems globally. Seagrasses are one of the few ecological building blocks within these marine ecosystems and their worldwide decline has been linked to climate-change-induced warming with increases in frequency and intensity of marine heatwave events. In South Africa, a dominant seagrass species, Zostera capensis, has declined in coverage by 38% over the past five decades - linked to the sensitivity of seagrass to global change stressors. It is found along the entire coastline occurring in waters between 13°C–28°C, occupying estuaries within the cool, warm, and subtropical bioregions, which suggests that this species has a wide thermal tolerance range. This could suggest a potential adaptive capacity advantageous to tolerating an array of shifting temperatures predicted under climate change. To measure this, samples of Z. capensis were taken from each bioregion to measure photosynthetic efficiency at a range of temperatures that broadly encompass its distribution (20°C–30°C). Physiological parameters measured were maximum photosynthetic efficiency (Fv/Fm), photochemical quenching (qP), and non-photochemical quenching (NPQ), as these are known to be sensitive indicators of thermal stress. It was found that each population varied in their physiological response to temperature, but significantly declined in photosynthetic efficiency at 30°C (p = 0.018) and favoured 25°C with significant increases in NPQ (p = 0.48) and decreased trends in qP. Additionally, samples from warm-temperate sites showed signs of physiological stress at 30°C, with increases in qP and decreases in NPQ, possibly indicative of reduced adaptive capacity to temperatures rarely exceeded within this bioregion. These results suggest a potential optimum temperature range of 25°C for this species, which characterizes the warm-temperate bioregion. Given that marine heatwaves are expected to increase in intensity and frequency, conservation efforts can start to focus on distributions of Z. capensis within this suggested optimum temperature range.

Can protected areas be used to further mitigate the effects of climate change?
12:37PM - 12:49PM
Presented by :
Siphesihle Lekokotla, Ndlovu De Villiers Attorneys

Section 24 of the Constitution enshrines the right to an environment that is not harmful to one's health or well-being and mandates our legislature to enact reasonable legislative measures to protect this right. The topic of climate change and the need to enact effective legislative measures in response thereto is at the forefront of global discussions. In the meantime, while leaders speculate, the impacts of climate change continue to escalate. In this presentation, I will discuss the use of protected areas, declared under the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act (the 'Act'), as a tool to sustainably mitigate the effects of climate change. I will canvass how the statutory protection of areas in strategic locations is not only an affordable means to reduce climate change impacts such as flooding, drought and ecosystem imbalance, but actively reduces the nation's carbon footprint, by enabling vegetation coverage. Protected areas store a significant amount of carbon, which increases resilience and reduces climate-related risks. The results which will form part of this research will entail carbon credits as a means of adaptation. On the other hand, corporate and finance law is able to drive climate action by holding accountable contributors of greenhouse gas emissions. In reducing the carbon footprint, the recommendations to be presented in greater detail shall include the use of renewable resources which are to be consistent with the retention of protected areas in a sustainable and environmentally beneficial manner. Evidently, maximum temperature records per year over the past ten years have significantly increased, recording higher temperatures more than what is expected. Therefore, policymakers, government departments, corporate entities, and agri-industries must understand this concept well, in order to respond to it effectively. In conclusion, meaningful responsive strategies such as phasing out of coal; increased flows of private capital; effective leveraging from the public; and the State putting aside resources to remedy the effects of climate change. This recommendation plays a crucial role that must be tasked with transparency in mitigating climate change-related risks in the improvement of carbon offsetting globally.

The impacts of a global pandemic on contemporary wildlife conservation: A symptom of a pre-existing condition?
12:50PM - 01:02PM
Presented by :
David Ehlers Smith, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Co-authors :
Yvette Ehlers Smith, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Harriet Davies-Mostert, Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT)
Dan Parker, University Of Mpumalanga
Lindy Thompson, EWT
Brent Coverdale, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Div De Villiers, DEDEA
Chris Kelly, Wildlife ACT
Duncan MacFadyen, Oppeneimer Group
Sam Manqele, University Of KwaZulu-Natal / South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
John Power, Department Of Economic Development, Environment, Conservation & Tourism
Dean Ricketts, DEDEA
PJ Roberts, Wildlife ACT
Craig Whittington-Jones, Gauteng Department Of Agriculture And Rural Development
Colleen Downs, University Of KwaZulu-Natal

The COVID pandemic provided conservation practitioners with the opportunity to conduct a 'global human confinement experiment' to investigate the positive and negative influences of human presence (and absence) in wild spaces because of the lockdown restrictions. We sought to quantify the effects of lockdown restrictions on biodiversity conservation in South Africa. The IUCN Threats Classification Scheme v3.2 was adopted as a relevant and established framework to develop a semi-structured questionnaire on the effects of the pandemic on the 12 IUCN Threat Classifications. Using this questionnaire, we solicited expert opinion (n = 90) and relevant data on the impacts of the pandemic. Our results indicated that within the context of a global pandemic, 'biological resource use' was considered the greatest threat to biodiversity, with the impact felt greatly at biome (33%) and species (29%) level. Respondents felt that during 'hard' lockdown restrictions (levels 5–3) there was an increase (55%) in resource use, which increased further during 'soft' lockdown restrictions (levels 1–2) (58%). For both hard and soft levels of lockdown, respondents felt that the increase in utilisation would be short-term (for the duration of the State of Disaster) and that the scale of the impact affected the minority of the population/community/habitat/ecosystem (< 50%). We had anticipated that resource use would be reduced during the hard lockdown as a result of imposed movement restrictions and curfews. However, in the South African context, the absence of tourism perhaps negated any positive impacts, where resource use (particularly illegal practices) was not curbed by a continuous presence of 'eyes on the ground'. Furthermore, where illegal resource use was considered 'a pre-existing condition', the onset of the pandemic and subsequent economic losses have resulted in 'acute' flair ups, which may result in chronic conditions if left untreated.

The impacts of COVID on contemporary wildlife conservation: The symptoms may have abated, but are we heading for a different kind of pandemic?
01:02PM - 01:14PM
Presented by :
Yvette Ehlers Smith, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Co-authors :
David Ehlers Smith, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Harriet Davies-Mostert, Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT)
Dan Parker, University Of Mpumalanga
Lindy Thompson, EWT
Brent Coverdale, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Div De Villiers, DEDEA
Chris Kelly, Wildlife ACT
Duncan MacFadyen, Oppeneimer Group
Sam Manqele, University Of KwaZulu-Natal / South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
John Power, Department Of Economic Development, Environment, Conservation & Tourism
Dean Ricketts, DEDEA
PJ Roberts, Wildlife ACT
Craig Whittington-Jones, Gauteng Department Of Agriculture And Rural Development
Colleen Downs, University Of KwaZulu-Natal

We sought to quantify the effects of the COVID lockdown restrictions on illegal biological resource use within the KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa. We used the long-term 'Compliance Database' collated by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife to assess trends over 11 years. This database constitutes a record of infringements from 2009–2020, which allowed us to assess the impacts of the lockdown restrictions on biodiversity conservation. Over this period, poaching (30%) contributed to the highest number of incidents recorded, whereas illegal plant harvesting contributed only 2%. Linear regression indicated a gradual increase in poaching (r² = 0.82), but with a 7.8% decrease between 2019 and 2020. However, illegal harvesting increased by 4%. At the protected area level, Mkhuze Game Reserve accounted for the highest number of poaching incidents within the database (20%). When comparing 2020 statistics at Mkhuze Game Reserve to the monthly average of pre-pandemic poaching incidents, the resultant regression showed a decrease in the trend (average: r² = 0.30; 2020: r² = 0.29). The years 2013 and 2015 had double the number of poaching incidents compared with 2020 respectively (n = 198). Overall, despite the decrease in poaching numbers in 2020, the trend in the province is increasing. The restrictions associated with curbing the pandemic might have bought some time, but the pre-existing conditions remain, and we cannot take our fingers off the pulse.

The increasing numbers of poaching incidents in post-COVID lockdown at Ditholo Nature Reserve
01:15PM - 01:18PM
Presented by :
Forgive Maluleke, Tshwane University Of Technology

Ditholo Nature Reserve, 55 km north of Pretoria, South Africa, is a 3,300 ha nature reserve protecting one of the few remaining portions of Kalahari plains thornveld in the Gauteng province. It is home to 340 species of birds and mammals such as zebra, tsessebe, blue wildebeest, kudu, impala, and waterbuck. The property is used primarily for gravel runway training, radar tracking and aerial cargo drop exercises by the South African Air Force, and, since 2013, Ditholo has been managed jointly with the Gauteng Provincial Government as part of the Dinokeng Biosphere Reserve. There has been an alarming increase in poaching at Ditholo Nature Reserve since the start of the COVID pandemic. Several people have been entering the nature reserve to kill wild animals. Since the announcement of the first lockdown in March 2020, at least 20 blue wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus) and 25 greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) have been killed by poachers. Poachers did not come for wildlife meat only during this time, but for firewood as well.

Question and Answer Session with Moderated Discussion: Conserving in the Face of Global Change
01:18PM - 01:30PM
Presented by :
Kevin Kirkman, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Co-authors :
Philippa Huntly , CapeNature
Bronwyn Maree, BirdLife South Africa
Thando Caroline Twala, University Of The Witwatersrand
Mosihla Frederick Mokumo, Stellenbosch University
Jessie Yuill, Stellenbosch University
Siphesihle Lekokotla, Ndlovu De Villiers Attorneys
David Ehlers Smith, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Yvette Ehlers Smith, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Forgive Maluleke, Tshwane University Of Technology
11:30AM - 01:30PM
Virtual Online Symposium - Parallel Session
Session Three: Land Use Change and Land Use Planning
Format : Parallel Session | General Session | Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion


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.

Direct Zoom link (only use if the Join Live button above fails) - https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85484337987

Session Three Introduction
11:30AM - 11:35AM
Presented by :
Natalie Hayward, CapeNature
Land cover change in marginalised landscapes of South Africa (1984-2014): Implications for socio-ecological resilience
11:35AM - 11:47AM
Presented by :
Buster Mogonong, Wits Uiniversity
Co-authors :
Jolene Fisher, University Of The Witwatersrand
David Furniss, University Of The Witwatersrand
Debbie Jewitt, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

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).

Socio-ecological legacy effects on grassland transformation in the Drakensberg region of South Africa
11:47AM - 11:59AM
Presented by :
Paul Gordijn, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)
Co-authors :
Timothy O'Connor, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)
Debbie Jewitt, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

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.

A novel system for enabling community environmental governance and compliance
12:00 Noon - 12:07PM
Presented by :
Cherise Acker-Cooper, The Endangered Wildlife Trust

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.

Importance of tourist sites in the conservation of floristic diversity: The case of the Atacora waterfalls in the northwest of Benin
12:07PM - 12:19PM
Presented by :
Stella Sokpon, University Of Parakou

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.

Learning from biodiversity offsets implementation within eThekwini Municipality (Durban), South Africa
12:20PM - 12:32PM
Presented by :
Sabelo B Nkosi , EThekwini Municipality

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.

The threat of power lines to two African vulture species
12:32PM - 12:44PM
Presented by :
Caroline Hannweg, VulPro
Co-authors :
Ryno Kemp, VulPro NPC
Sarah Aspenstrom, School Of Applied Sciences, Edinburgh Napier University
Alexandra Howard, VulPro
Kishaylin Chetty, Eskom
Rob Briers, Edinburgh Napier University
Kerri Wolter, VulPro

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.

Bat guilds respond differently to habitat loss and fragmentation in macadamia orchards, South Africa
12:45PM - 12:57PM
Presented by :
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

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.

Question and Answer Session with Moderated Discussion: Land Use Change and Land Use Planning
12:57PM - 01:30PM
Presented by :
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
02:00PM - 09:00PM
South African delegates voting in municipal elections
Tuesday, 02 Nov 2021
09:00AM - 11:15AM
Virtual Online Symposium - Plenary Session
Session Four: UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration: Opportunities, Risks and the Role of African Science
Format : Plenary Session | Special Session | Keynote Presentations | Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Moderators
Sue Janse Van Rensburg, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)

Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) and ecosystem restoration are being proposed as important contributions towards mitigating extreme impacts of climate change. The recently-launched UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021–2030 (www.decadeonrestoration.org) aims to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems. It is mooted as an opportunity to help end poverty, combat climate change and prevent mass extinction. But there could be significant risks to biodiversity, water production and socio-ecological systems if this is not done properly.

While the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration is clear in promoting context-appropriate action and supports the role of science and evidence, there are many 'restoration' initiatives in Africa promoting activities, including tree planting, that seem neither grounded in science nor reality. On top of the climate change impact, Africa risks additional injury to biodiversity, water production and livelihoods from misguided interventions. Ineffective restoration interventions may incur the opportunity cost of distracting from and retarding effective global responses to climate change.

In addition to unpacking the objectives, approaches and principles of the UN Decade on Ecological Restoration, this session will seek to understand the role of other international conventions and associated commitments that are driving restoration initiatives. Important African science that should be used to guide the restoration efforts on the African continent will be profiled, and we will question why some of this science is seemingly ignored. We will also discuss how to enhance the engagement of African scientists and create science-policy interface platforms to empower African negotiators in conventions and initiatives to advocate for context-appropriate interventions. Importantly, how do we keep a focus during the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration on the more cost-effective 'prevent' degradation part of the intervention rather than focusing on the more complex and expensive 'halt and reverse' (restore) part?

This series of presentations will lead to a facilitated panel discussion that will focus on seeking evidence-based interventions and adopting important principles for the way forward.

10 principles to guide the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021 - 2030

Tim ChristophersenHead: Nature for Climate Branch, Ecosystems Division, United Nations Environment Programme
The trouble with (more) trees

Dr. Nicola Stevens
University of Oxford
Looking to South Africa's rich history of forest hydrology research to guide ecological restoration activities

Dr. Michele Toucher
South African Environmental Observation Network
Soil carbon storage in montane fire climax grasslands, Cathedral Peak, South Africa. The battle between trees and grasses.

Lindokuhle Xolani DlaminiSouth African Environmental Observation Network
The economics of restoration and conservation: A brief reflection

Prof. James BlignautASSET Research, South African Environmental Observation Network, Stellenbosch University
The Society for Ecological Restoration and, restoration principles and standards for the UN Decade

Andrew WhitleyWildTrust - WildLands
Future Earth Regional Office for southern Africa (FEROSA)

Prof. Stephanie Burton University of Pretoria 

Direct Zoom link (only use if the Join Live button above fails) - https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85273250988

Session Four Introduction
09:00AM - 09:10AM
Presented by :
Sue Janse Van Rensburg, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)
10 principles to guide the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021 - 2030
09:10AM - 09:30AM
Presented by :
Tim Christophersen, UN Environment Programme (UNEP)

The United Nations (UN) Decade on Ecosystem Restoration's Task Force on Best Practices released 10 principles to guide restoration initiatives. This major effort brought together hundreds of organisations. Besides the lead agencies, the UN Environment Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) (the coordinator of the Task Force), the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) and the IUCN's Commission for Ecosystem Management (CEM) acted as the main convenors. The principles, released at the World Conservation Congress in Marseilles, France, detail what defines good ecosystem restoration practices. They were the result of feedback from hundreds of restoration experts and practitioners, including government officials, researchers, NGOs, businesses, indigenous peoples and religious leaders.

The trouble with (more) trees
09:30AM - 10:00AM
Presented by :
Nicola Stevens, University Of Oxford

The restoration of recently deforested and degraded forests through tree planting initiatives can restore forests, increase resilience to climate change, and help to reduce further increases in atmospheric carbon. However, in the rush to plant trees, campaigns, including the Bonn Challenge, are also targeting areas that are incorrectly identified as degraded and deforested. This broadly includes vast areas of open ecosystems like savannas, grasslands and shrublands that dominate the global South. In Africa, for example, the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100), an implementation of the Bonn Challenge, proposed to plant 1 million km2 of trees by 2030. Some of the target areas include degraded tropical and subtropical forests, yet others also include grassland-dominated ecosystems. Many of the 'new' forests will be established at the expense of valuable ecosystem services that serve millions of people and will result in large scale losses of biodiversity and reduced streamflow, and will further exacerbate social inequalities. The urgency of implementing large scale tree planting is prompting the release of funding into inadequately assessed projects that will likely have negligible sequestration benefits and cause potential human and ecological harm. These consequences are discussed in this talk.

Looking to South Africa’s rich history of forest hydrology research to guide ecological restoration activities
10:00AM - 10:12AM
Presented by :
Michele Toucher, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)
Co-authors :
Sue Janse Van Rensburg, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)
Byron Gray, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)

As a semi-arid country, a large portion of South Africa's rainfall is partitioned to evapotranspiration. Therefore, land cover and land use, as well as changes thereof, have a significant influence on hydrological responses and water availability. Certain land-use changes have a greater impact on hydrological responses than others. In the South African context, commercial afforestation, with evergreen and fast-growing exotic species, result in decreased stormflows, reduced groundwater recharge, and altered streamflow patterns, in particular decreases in flows during dry periods. Commercially afforested areas have higher evapotranspiration rates than any shorter grassland type vegetation they replace which senesces in the dry season. Research on the impacts of commercial afforestation has a long history in South Africa dating back to 1935 when the first catchment experiment to investigate the influence of trees on water was initiated. It is the understanding of these impacts through field-based research that have resulted in afforestation at present being deemed the only "streamflow reduction activity" according to the South African National Water Act (1998) and these same results have guided alien invasive plant clearing initiatives. Although there are lessons to take from the rich history of forest hydrology research to inform ecological restoration activities, particularly as many international restoration initiatives are interchangeable with reforestation, there are more nuanced questions arising around the impacts of trees on water linked to global change and increasing pressure on ecosystem services. These nuanced questions include the need to understand the interactions and feedbacks between biodiversity-carbon-water, in order to develop an approach to restoration that is South African context-relevant, evidence-based, and promotes resilience for the most vulnerable in society.

Soil carbon storage in montane fire climax grasslands, Cathedral Peak, South Africa. The battle between trees and grasses.
10:12AM - 10:24AM
Presented by :
Lindokuhle Xolani Dlamini, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)
Co-authors :
Elmarie Kotze, University Of The Free State,
Gregor Feig, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)
Jean Leveque, University Of Burgundy

Soils are the largest reservoir of terrestrial carbon (Ct), storing approximately 2,344 gigatons (Gt) of carbon (C) to depths of up to 3 m, which is more than four times the 560 Gt C from terrestrial biomass. Grasslands are the second largest biome in South Africa; approximately 60% of the national C stock is found in grasslands, with approximately 90% of the C stock in the soil, primarily in the form of soil organic carbon (SOC). Interest in SOC is growing globally because of the increase in atmospheric CO2 levels. One reason for this is the hope that improving soil management through restoration may capture significant amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere and sequester it into the soil. Acceptance of restoration through tree planting presents a problem for open systems like montane grasslands. Evidence is needed on the effect of grassland afforestation and fire exclusion on current SOC stocks, biodiversity, and ecosystem services to guide policy. This study, conducted in Cathedral Peak in the Drakensberg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, quantifies SOC stocks to understand the role of fire climax grasslands in SOC storage. Several experimental catchments in Cathedral Peak have been operational since the 1940s; these include a fire-exclusion (woody-plant dominated), a biennial burn (semi-natural), and a post-afforestation catchment (degraded). Soil core samples were collected from different depth intervals, to determine bulk density, δ13C isotopic signatures, SOC, nitrogen stocks, and labile SOC. Generally, adjacent grassland has greater SOC stocks in the 0–30cm depth compared to pioneer forest (195.21 and 180.72 mg/ha respectively). Overall, SOC and labile SOC decreases with an increase in soil depth. The δ13C isotope shows a mixing of C4 and C3 plants but a clear distinction between adjacent grassland and pioneer forest. The degraded catchment has double the amount of SOC in the bottom slope than in its top slope showing evidence of SOC transport because of soil erosion. SOC is more labile in the degraded catchment compared to the semi-natural catchment. These findings show that fire exclusion is unlikely to lead to greater SOC sequestration. Furthermore, soil erosion as a result of post afforestation results in SOC accumulation in the bottom slope and SOC more susceptible to respiration.

The economics of restoration and conservation: A brief reflection
10:25AM - 10:37AM
Presented by :
James Blignaut, ASSET Research, SAEON, Stellenbosch University

Ecological restoration, broadly defined, has gained much attention recently due to the arrival of the much anticipated and much needed United Nations Decade of Ecosystem Restoration. A concerted and focussed effort is required to repair landscapes and ecosystems. The economics of restoration, i.e. the determination of the costs and the benefits of restoration is, however, one of the key factors to consider. We will therefore consider a brief analysis of the restoration database of ASSET Research (https://assetresearch.org.za/econrestoration/; https://assetresearch.org.za/media-resources/) to gain insights into the benefits and costs of restoration in various different contexts. The economics of restoration, while imperative and essential, is only one side of the coin. The restoration of economics is the other. It is because economics per se has become impaired that there is degradation in the first instance. It is because economic drivers and incentives lead to resource degradation that restoration is required. Part of restoring economics is also considering the value of not destroying and being in need of restoration, but conserving and developing value for the future. The opportunity cost of degradation and restoration must also be considered.

The Society for Ecological Restoration: Restoration principles and standards for the UN Decade
10:37AM - 10:40AM
Presented by :
Andrew Whitley, WildTrust - WildLands

Across the globe, centuries of unsustainable activities have damaged the aquatic, marine and terrestrial environments that underpin our economies and societies. The Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) is dedicated to reversing this degradation and restoring the earth for the benefit of both humans and nature. SER's aim is to advance the science, practice and policy of ecological restoration to sustain biodiversity, improve resilience in a changing climate, and re-establish an ecologically healthy relationship between nature and culture. International Principles and Standards for the Practice of Ecological Restoration have been developed to guide these policies and practices. SER and its international partners have produced these Standards for adoption by communities, industries, governments, educators, and land managers to improve ecological restoration practices across all sectors and in all ecosystems, terrestrial and aquatic. The Standards support the development of ecological restoration plans, contracts, consent conditions, and monitoring and auditing criteria. Generic in nature, the Standards framework can be adapted to particular ecosystems, biomes, or landscapes, individual countries, or traditional cultures. The world has entered the United Nations (UN) Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021–2030), and these Standards provide a blueprint for ensuring ecological restoration achieves its full potential in delivering social and environmental equity and, ultimately, long-lasting economic benefits and outcomes. To further support the effective implementation of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, SER co-hosted the 3rd Global Forum on Ecological Restoration. This provides a strong ecological and community foundation for the delivery of activities, funding and assessment associated with the UN Decade, through a definition of net gain, metrics for measuring net gain, a framework for prioritizing restorative activities, principles for implementing effective and engaging ecosystem restoration projects and programs, and Standards of Practice for implementing restorative activities across the entirety of the Restorative Continuum

Future Earth Regional Office for southern Africa (FEROSA)
10:40AM - 10:46AM
Presented by :
Stephanie Burton, University Of Pretoria
Co-authors :
Thabo Dikgale, National Research Foundation

Future Earth is a global sustainability science initiative with a vision of a sustainable and equitable world for all, where societal decisions are informed and openly accessible, and knowledge is shared. The Future Earth Regional Office for Southern Africa (FEROSA) was launched in 2018, as the southern African regional centre for Future Earth. FEROSA's mission is to support, coordinate and connect sustainability researchers, programmes and projects in southern Africa to international networks and opportunities aligned with the Future Earth mission. FEROSA provides a platform for science-to-policy and practice engagements, fostering engagement between key actors (including academics, policymakers and civil society), and connecting researchers and societal partners (leaders in policy, business and civil society) to each other and to Future Earth. FEROSA works with partners in society to co-develop the knowledge needed to support decision-makers and societal change at all scales and in diverse contexts, and promotes southern African-specific efforts and priorities. FEROSA seeks to coordinate activities and programmes in the region's sustainability sector, and provide support to stakeholders and institutions in the region. This is done through enhancing sector collaboration, creating networking opportunities, and principally creating a closer interface between policy, science and society through brokering and enhancing relationships between the various actors. By developing the capabilities of stakeholders and institutions in the southern Africa region, and creating a closer interface between sustainability science and policy actions in consultation with society, FEROSA aims to build new pathways towards national, regional and ultimately global sustainability, including during the United Nations Decade of Ecosystem Restoration.

Question and Answer Session with Moderated Discussion: UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration: Opportunities, Risks and the Role of African Science
10:46AM - 11:15AM
Presented by :
Sue Janse Van Rensburg, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)
Co-authors :
Tim Christophersen, UN Environment Programme (UNEP)
Nicola Stevens, University Of Oxford
Michele Toucher, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)
Lindokuhle Xolani Dlamini, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)
James Blignaut, ASSET Research, SAEON, Stellenbosch University
Andrew Whitley, WildTrust - WildLands
Stephanie Burton, University Of Pretoria
11:30AM - 01:30PM
Virtual Online Symposium - Parallel Session
Session Five: Restoration and Recovery of Species and Ecosystems
Format : Parallel Session | General Session | Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Moderators
Michelle Tedder, University Of KwaZulu-Natal


This session will explore initiatives to conserve, restore and sustainably utilise threatened species and ecosystems.

Hope for the future: Successful translocations of the Endangered Maloti minnow (Pseudobarbus quathlambae) in the Lesotho Highlands

James McCaffertyAdvance Africa Management Services
Implementation of the Biodiversity Management Plan for Pickersgill's reed frog (Hyperolius pickersgilli) – the fourth year

Dr. Adrian ArmstrongEzemvelo KZN Wildlife
Conservation of one of South Africa's most Endangered snake species, the Albany adder (Bitis albanica)

Dr. Jeanne TarrantEndangered Wildlife Trust
To split or not to split: Evolutionary classification of small mammals highlights the conservation plight of Afromontane habitats

Prof. Peter TaylorUniversity of the Free State
In the mix: Cape mountain zebra (Equus zebra zebra) conservation

Marienne de VilliersCapeNature
Can South African seagrass (Zostera capensis) meadows be restored through transplants? A case study from a priority South African lagoon

Katie WatsonStellenbosch University
Benthic macrofaunal community structure of the St. Lucia estuary mouth, following the latest mouth restoration project

Puleng MoloiUniversity of KwaZulu-Natal
Biodiversity stewardship in the uMgeni Catchment. Improving the security and management of biodiversity assets.

Steve McKeanConservation Outcomes NPC
Conserving biodiversity on South Africa's privately-owned grasslands: Farmer experiences with protected areas

Dr. Jeff SundbergInternational Crane Foundation
How biodiversity-friendly is regenerative grazing? A review

Craig MorrisAgricultural Research Council

Direct Zoom link (only use if the Join Live button above fails) - https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86721727221

Session Five Introduction
11:30AM - 11:35AM
Presented by :
Michelle Tedder, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Hope for the future: Successful translocations of the Endangered Maloti minnow (Pseudobarbus quathlambae) in the Lesotho Highlands
11:35AM - 11:47AM
Presented by :
James McCafferty, Advance Africa Management Services
Co-authors :
Palesa Monongoaha, Lesotho Highlands Development Authority

The Maloti minnow (Pseudobarbus quathlambae) is a small, Endangered (IUCN B2ab), redfin minnow endemic to Maloti-Drakensberg mountain streams in Lesotho and KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The species comprises two genetically distinct evolutionarily significant units (ESUs): an "Eastern ESU" viz. P. quathlambae, and a "Mohale ESU" viz. P. quathlambae cf. Mohale. Their distribution has become increasingly fragmented and limited due to habitat degradation, habitat loss, and competition and predation from non-native fishes. In 2013, surveys revealed that the native Mohale ESU populations had collapsed. However, in 2002/2003, fish from the Mohale ESU were translocated to four other rivers outside of their native range, the Jorodane, Makhaleng, Maletsunyane, and Quthing Rivers, as a conservation measure. A survey of these translocated populations in 2006 showed that they had persisted in three rivers. No follow-up surveys had been undertaken since. As such, it was critical that surveys were undertaken to assess the status of these translocated populations that potentially represented the last remnants of the Mohale ESU. In 2017–2019, electrofishing surveys were undertaken to assess the status of the translocated populations of the Mohale ESU. Populations of translocated Maloti minnows were recorded in the Jorodane (above Pampiri Falls) (n = 53) and Maletsunyane Rivers (n = 325). The abundance and size structure of these populations suggests that they are well established and healthy. No minnows were recorded in the Makhaleng or Quthing Rivers. The failed translocations, and the collapse of the native Mohale ESU populations, means that the translocated populations in the upper Jorodane and Maletsunyane rivers may be the last viable remnants of the Mohale ESU. As such, it is critical that these populations, and activities in the catchment areas, are routinely monitored and managed to prevent the introduction of non-native fishes and to limit poor land-use practices.

Implementation of the Biodiversity Management Plan for Pickersgill’s reed frog (Hyperolius pickersgilli) – the fourth year
11:47AM - 11:57AM
Presented by :
Adrian Armstrong, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Co-authors :
Jeanne Tarrant, Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT)
Ian Du Plessis, Johannesburg City Parks & Zoo
Antoinette Kotze, South African National Biodiversity Institute
Felicity Elliott, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

The Biodiversity Management Plan for Pickersgill's reed frog (Hyperolius pickersgilli) (BMP-PRF) is being implemented through the action of multiple stakeholders. Geographic information system (GIS) coverages defining habitat areas, buffers, and linkages have been developed for the municipal planning systems in the species distribution range. A distribution model for the PRF and occurrence records were incorporated in the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment's Environmental Impact Assessment screening tool. Protected environment status is being sought for 600 ha of habitat and conservation bank status for 500 ha. Alien invasive plants were cleared from 343 ha of habitat by 40 locally employed people. Ecological goods and services data show a gradual increase in habitat health scores since 2018. More breeding adults were captured for the captive-breeding program at the Johannesburg Zoo because breeding was observed to decline over time. The program produced about 600 PRFs and all 57 skin swab samples taken at the Zoo were negative for chytrid fungus, indicating that the breeding facility was biosecure. The release of 455 PRFs to the wild on 10 November 2020 was the largest to date, including 55 at a new site in the rehabilitating Buffelsdraai landfill buffer zone near Verulam in KwaZulu-Natal. Monitoring of the released PRFs through observation and calls carried on until 22 February 2021 after which no more were recorded. Monitoring of wild PRFs using acoustic recorders has produced more than 700 hours of call data for analysis by University of KwaZulu-Natal students, and the acoustic recordings, as well as 36 distribution records, were captured into the appropriate databases. Awareness about PRF during the year has been achieved through multiple channels reaching many thousands of people. The implementation of the BMP is generally on track and the BMP will be revised after the fifth year.

Conservation of one of South Africa’s most Endangered snake species, the Albany adder (Bitis albanica)
11:58AM - 12:06PM
Presented by :
Jeanne Tarrant, Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT)
Co-authors :
Dominic Henry, Endangered Wildlife Trust
Shona Macaffer, The University Of Edinburgh
Keir Lynch, Bionerds PTY Ltd
Alouise Lynch, Bionerds PTY Ltd
Wendy Collinson-Jonker, Endangered Wildlife Trust

Reptile populations are declining rapidly worldwide. Snakes, as predators, are paramount to the functioning of ecosystems, however, the status and ecology of many snakes throughout the world remain unknown. The Albany adder, an elusive, dwarf viperid snake, endemic to the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, is one such species. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists Bitis albanica as Endangered on their Red List, and it is touted as the most threatened snake within South Africa, as it is now thought to exist in a single remaining population of just 795 km². The last known stronghold for the species is privately-owned and remains under tremendous development pressure, threatening the Bontveld habitat in which the species occurs. Moreover, increased traffic associated with proposed developments could result in increased road mortalities and potentially increased illegal wildlife trade. Urgent conservation action is thus needed to prevent further decline of the species and the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) is currently pursuing biodiversity stewardship to protect 8,000 hectares for the species, and several other co-occurring threatened species. A research project aimed at comparing survey techniques, investigating road occupancy, and determining roadkill hotspots will help to inform evidence-based management policies, direct further research and engage local communities. Understanding habitat utilization will be critical for informing management plans. A cross-sectional observational field survey will be undertaken using drift fence arrays, funnel traps, and pitfall traps, in different habitats with capture rates compared. Road transects will be also be conducted across several vegetation types to assess habitat utilization and inform road use mitigation strategies. Adoption of these management actions by landowners is critical to ensuring the long-term survival of this extraordinary snake.

To split or not to split: Evolutionary classification of small mammals highlights the conservation plight of Afromontane habitats
12:06PM - 12:18PM
Presented by :
Peter Taylor, University Of The Free State

During the current extinction crisis, the age-old "species debate" (splitters versus lumpers) continues to impact the IUCN Red List "triage" process with different IUCN specialist groups adopting widely varying species concepts, leading to very different conservation outcomes and priorities for different biota. Species splitting may occur either due to genuine speciation or "taxonomic inflation" where subspecies (or cryptic species) are raised to species status due to a particular philosophy. The latter is considered bad practice while the former may present an inconvenient truth for conservation, burdening already scarce resources. The lack of dialogue between taxonomists and conservationists exacerbates the problem. For example, in a 2017 Nature paper, Garnett and Christides considered that "taxonomic anarchy" hampered conservation efforts and that species lists should be mediated by an international committee of the International Union of Biological Sciences. A recent review of African small mammal taxonomy documented increases of 13% (rodents) and 18% (bats) over the past three decades in the number of recognized species of Afro-Malagasy rodents and bats. Referring to case studies, predominantly from montane habitats, the study showed that these increases are a genuine reflection of speciation in cryptic species complexes and suggested a four-criterion approach to delimiting species accurately. Moreover, some of these cryptic Afromontane small mammal species are subject to increased extinction risks due to small population size and anthropogenic changes (habitat degradation and climate change). These changes were captured accurately in a recent national Mammal Red List of South Africa, Lesotho, and Swaziland, as well as by ongoing international IUCN red-listing efforts for small mammals, both highlighting the plight of Afromontane habitats and range-restricted endemic small mammals and indicating that taxonomists and conservationists can work together to assess the Red List status (and conservation recommendations) of cryptic species based on robust taxonomic revisions.

In the mix: Cape mountain zebra (Equus zebra zebra) conservation
12:19PM - 12:31PM
Presented by :
Marienne De Villiers, CapeNature

Two of the key objectives of the Biodiversity Management Plan (BMP) for Cape mountain zebra (CMZ, Equus zebra zebra) are the re-establishment of gene flow and habitat expansion. In 2019, a decrease in CMZ genetic diversity at several protected areas was reported and immediate implementation of evidence-based genetic management was recommended. CapeNature manages four sites with sizeable CMZ populations and two of these sites each contain one-third of the genetic diversity of the sub-species. The main threats at Gamkaberg are a male-biased sex ratio, resulting in social stress, and a shortage of suitable habitat. At the other protected areas, habitat suitability is compounded by fencing issues, with escapee CMZ at risk from hybridisation, poaching and accidental trapping in farm camps. To address these and other issues highlighted in the BMP, a CapeNature CMZ working group was initiated in March 2020. CMZ monitoring, translocation and sample collection protocols were developed/updated, an annual reporting system was initiated for the reserves, a consolidated CMZ database was designed, two information flyers were produced and distributed (a Kammanassie custodianship flyer and a hybridisation threat flyer), a funding application was submitted, and opportunities for protected area expansion are being pursued. A genetics task team was set up and included experts from the South African National Biodiversity Institute and the University of Venda. Proposals for the initiation of a programme of translocation of animals to facilitate appropriate genetic mixing at two sites were approved and will proceed once funding has been secured. Partnerships are essential for effective metapopulation management and an inter-organisational steering committee will be established towards achieving this goal.

Can South African seagrass (Zostera capensis) meadows be restored through transplants? A case study from a priority South African lagoon
12:31PM - 12:34PM
Presented by :
Katie Watson, Stellenbosch University
Co-authors :
Sophie Von Der Heyden, Stellenbosch University
Deena Pillay, University Of Cape Town

Seagrass meadows are recognised as globally important soco-ecological systems that contribute significantly to human well-being and biodiversity due to the vast array of ecosystem services they provide. Extensive degradation of seagrass meadows and their associated fauna are being documented globally. There is concern that the ecosystem functions seagrasses perform will be reduced or, in places, lost altogether without intervention, as is the case for Zostera capensis in South Africa. This fast-growing species does not colonise quickly, and numerous cases of population extinction are documented. Whilst there have been restoration attempts of Z. capensis, researchers have yet to formally study the restoration of this species. This research aimed to determine the effect of transplant type (cores versus anchored shoots) and planting arrangement on temporal persistence, area cover, and macrofaunal species composition of Z. capensis post-transplant. The effectiveness of transplantation on survival and restoration in the short term of Z. capensis meadows was also evaluated. Zostera capensis cores and shoots were transplanted from the donor population to a recipient degraded meadow within Langebaan Lagoon, Western Cape Province. The material was planted using three spatial arrangements (line, dense, and starlike patterns) across three sub-sites with fully crossed and repeated measures. Preliminary results highlighted a decline in survival, area cover, canopy height, and species composition irrespective of transplant type or of planting arrangement. Further translocation attempts will likely alleviate limitations to successful translocation over time by tailoring techniques to local biological systems and through a deeper understanding of Z. capensis dispersal and colonisation potential. This highlights the fundamental need for further study of transplantation of Z. capensis to improve long-term success.

Benthic macrofaunal community structure of the St. Lucia estuary mouth, following the latest mouth restoration project
12:35PM - 12:38PM
Presented by :
Puleng Moloi, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Co-authors :
Nicola Carrasco, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Matthew S. Bird , University Of Johannesburg
Gavin M. Rishworth, Nelson Mandela University

The St. Lucia estuarine system is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the largest estuarine lake in Africa. This system forms part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Historically, St. Lucia and the adjacent Mfolozi estuarine system shared a common estuary mouth. The St. Lucia-Mfolozi common estuary mouth was separated into two independent mouths in 1952 to avoid mouth blockage and further lake shallowing due to anthropogenically-induced siltation. This separation deprived St. Lucia of its primary freshwater source and threatened its integrity. From June 2016 to June 2017, a Global Environment Facility-funded rehabilitation project was implemented to re-link the Mfolozi mouth to the St. Lucia mouth with the aim of restoring natural mouth functioning. However, there was still a threat of silt carried by Mfolozi water. Following the changes arising from the 2015/2016 drought, mouth alterations, and increased rainfall, there was a crucial need to monitor the biotic components, including the macrofaunal assemblages. In this study, triplicate benthic macrofauna samples and physico-chemical data were collected quarterly from February 2015 to November 2018 at the mouth area. A shift in salinity, increased water level, and silt build-up were observed during the study period. There was a significant shift in macrofauna assemblages which may be related to decreased salinities and the consequences of the silty state of the mouth. The dominance of taxa, such as the tanaid (Halmyrapseudes cooperi; small shrimplike crustaceans) and invasive gastropod (Tarebia granifera; quilted melania) may be indicators of the unstable environment during and immediately after the project. Additionally, the freshwater clam (Corbicula fluminalis africana) was recorded after the mouth rehabilitation project. This is the first record for St. Lucia-Mfolozi, although specimens were recorded in 1983 from the Hluhluwe river mouth. Mouth re-connection has been effective at increasing the freshwater input, however, intervention is required to prevent the silt load from entering the estuary.

Biodiversity stewardship in the uMgeni Catchment. Improving the security and management of biodiversity assets.
12:38PM - 12:50PM
Presented by :
Steve McKean, Conservation Outcomes NPC
Co-authors :
Fonda Lewis, Institute Of Natural Resources

The biodiversity stewardship approach has been massively successful in providing the opportunity for private and communal landowners to invest in formal conservation, by securing their properties as protected areas. This approach is forging a new model for conservation for landowners in a country with a strong developmental agenda, where economic viability is respected, within the context of securing the biodiversity values of their properties. Protected areas are some of the most important areas on the planet, securing our natural ecological infrastructure, which serves as the foundation of our socio-economic viability. Securing new protected areas is not about pure ethical biodiversity value, it's essentially about human wellbeing. Given the significant development needs in South Africa, limited resources are being made available for securing new protected areas. The biodiversity stewardship process provides the opportunity to engage with private and communal landowners to assist in securing new protected areas on their land, providing an efficient and effective mechanism to secure our biodiversity assets. The biodiversity stewardship mechanism has been the most innovative protected area expansion approach over the past two decades. Here, we showcase the biodiversity stewardship approach taken in engaging with state, private and communal landowners in the Central Umgeni River catchment as an example of private, state-owned, and communal landowner commitment and collaboration for mutual benefit, and to secure and manage their biodiversity and ecosystem services. Approximately 7,000 ha of important biodiversity and Umgeni river catchment areas are being legally secured through a combination of nature reserve and protected environment declarations and a biodiversity agreement. This initiative is a model for a cooperative approach between private, communal and state landowners to manage their biodiversity and collaborate on issues of common interest. 

Conserving biodiversity on South Africa’s privately-owned grasslands: Farmer experiences with protected areas
12:51PM - 01:01PM
Presented by :
Jeff Sundberg, International Crane Foundation
Co-authors :
Bradley Gibbons, Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT)
Tanya Smith, Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT)

Privately-owned grasslands are an important priority for conservation in South Africa and around the world, and farmers often own significant tracts of high-quality grasslands. This project used interviews with 37 grassland farmers, primarily in the Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal Provinces in South Africa, to assess the motivations, experiences, and outcomes of farmers who have proclaimed land as a protected area within the national Biodiversity Stewardship Initiative. Primary motivations include protecting water and conserving land and wildlife, and helping prevent local mining activity; other reasons mentioned include potential financial benefits, help with legal issues, and intergenerational concerns. Farmers typically find that the required management plan helps them improve the quality of their grazing and makes their operation more sustainable, and both protects and improves local habitat and water. About two-thirds of the farmers who joined, at least in part, to prevent mining thought that the programme had been effective in that regard. Farmers do not feel that the programme has resulted in any adverse effects on their operation, and are happy to recommend the programme to others. Many of them do have concerns about a lack of ongoing support for their stewardship activities and land protection efforts, especially those farming in Mpumalanga. The results should encourage other farmers to consider enrolling their land as a protected area. Farmers also indicate that enhanced support, from the provinces or from NGOs, is important for the programme to be more attractive, and perhaps even to survive in some areas.

How biodiversity-friendly is regenerative grazing? A review
01:01PM - 01:13PM
Presented by :
Craig Morris, Agricultural Research Council

Regenerative grazing management (RGM), one of the methods of the growing regenerative agriculture movement, seeks to mimic natural grazing dynamics to restore degraded soils and the ecological processes underpinning sustainable livestock production while enhancing biodiversity. Regenerative grazing, including holistic planned grazing and related methods, is a flexible, rotational stocking approach in which dense livestock herds are rotated rapidly through multiple paddocks in short bouts of grazing to defoliate plants evenly and infrequently, interspersed with long recovery periods to boost regrowth. The concentrated 'hoof action' of herds in RGM is regarded as vital for regenerating soils and ecosystem services. Evidence (from 52 studies) that RGM benefits biodiversity is reviewed. Soils enriched by RGM have elevated microbial bioactivity, higher fungal:bacteria biomass, greater functional diversity, and richer microarthropods and macrofauna communities, especially earthworms and beetles. Vegetation responds inconsistently, with increased, neutral, or decreased total plant diversity, richness of forage grasses and invasive species under RGM: grasses tend to be favoured but shrubs and forbs can be severely depleted by the mechanical action of hooves. Trampling also reduces numerous arthropods by altering vegetation structure but creates favourable habitat and food for a few taxa, such as dung beetles. Similarly, grazing-induced structural changes benefit some birds (for foraging, nest sites) while heavy stocking during winter and droughts reduces food for seedeaters and songbirds. Where RGM is implemented by herding without permanent fences, mammalian wildlife (herbivores and predators) thrives on nutritious regrowth while having access to large areas undisturbed by livestock at any given time. It is concluded that RGM does not universally promote biodiversity but can be adapted by including extreme grazing management practices (such as 'overgrazing', livestock exclusion, and patch-burn grazing) to provide greater landscape habitat heterogeneity suitable to a wider range of biota.

Question and Answer Session with Moderated Discussion: Restoration and Recovery of Species and Ecosystems
01:13PM - 01:30PM
Presented by :
Michelle Tedder, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Co-authors :
James McCafferty, Advance Africa Management Services
Adrian Armstrong, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Jeanne Tarrant, Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT)
Peter Taylor, University Of The Freestate
Marienne De Villiers, CapeNature
Katie Watson, Stellenbosch University
Puleng Moloi, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Steve McKean, Conservation Outcomes NPC
Jeff Sundberg, International Crane Foundation
Craig Morris, Agricultural Research Council
11:30AM - 01:30PM
Virtual Online Symposium - Parallel Session
Session Six: Marine Mining: Conservation Issues during Exploration and Exploitation
Format : Parallel Session | Special Session | Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Moderators
Greta Pegram, Environmental Law Association (ELA) Of South Africa

The drive for a green energy future requires increased mining of certain elements. As some of these are concentrated in the oceanic crust, marine mining is likely to increase and move from current operations on the continental shelf into the deep ocean basins. This special session aims to present and discuss the conservation issues that arise during exploration for and exploitation of such marine mineral resources from the surf zone to the abyssal plains.

One of the ironies of providing green energy for the future is that there must be an increase in mining for certain critical elements to meet ever-increasing demands. For instance, cobalt, sourced from the ocean floor, is estimated to require a 460% increase in production, which increases the possibility of marine mining. Therefore, a better understanding is needed of the potential location and environmental effects of marine mining so that appropriate conservation strategies can be formulated to mitigate the effects.

Different mineral deposits require different exploration and exploitation methods. However, a common factor is that during mining there is a disturbance of the substrate. Therefore, a knowledge of the bathymetry, substrate and currents is critical to evaluating the environmental effects of marine mining.

This session will summarise the different types of minerals deposits found in the marine environment from the surf zone to the abyssal plains, outline the exploration and exploitation methods used for mining marine deposits, present case studies of past or present marine mining and the conservation strategies used to mitigate the documented environmental disturbances, and finally to indicate other possible areas of marine mining and the likely environmental effects.

Marine mining: Why, what, where, and how?

Prof. Michael WatkeysUniversity of KwaZulu-Natal
Technical and juristic perspectives on deep seabed mining in South African waters and beyond

Dr. Hayley Cawthra
Council for Geoscience & Nelson Mandela University
Bathymetry, substrate, and currents: Towards ground up marine spatial planning, conservation and marine mining

Dr. Errol WilesSouth African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity
Taking a closer look at the seafloor: Multibeam bathymetry as a basis for marine spatial planning

Thamsanqa WandaNelson Mandela University & South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity
The potential of marine mining of ferromanganese encrustations and polymetallic nodules in the deep marine environment offshore of south-east Africa

Prof. Michael WatkeysUniversity of KwaZulu-Natal
60 years of marine diamond mining on the southern African continental shelf - a geologist's perspective of conservation lessons learned that should be remembered for the mining of our green future

Michael ShawDiamond Exploration Strategies
Deep-sea mining: The long-term cumulative impacts

Bronwen CurrieIndependent


NOTE: The presentations by Mike Woodborne (Marine phosphates off southern Africa: Opportunities, challenges and environment) and Gavin Craythorne (The impacts of Alexkor state-owned enterprise's cofferdam mining operations) have been withdrawn. Presentations by Thamsanqa Wanda's (Taking a closer look at the seafloor: Multibeam bathymetry as a basis for marine spatial planning) and Bronwen Currie's (Deep-sea mining: The long-term cumulative impacts) have been added.

Direct Zoom link (only use if the Join Live button above fails) - https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81433281976

Session Six Introduction
11:30AM - 11:35AM
Presented by :
Greta Pegram, Environmental Law Association (ELA) Of South Africa
Marine mining: Why, what, where, and how?
11:35AM - 11:47AM
Presented by :
Michael Watkeys, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Co-authors :
Errol Wiles, South African Institute For Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB)

The drive for a green energy future has intensified the exploration for elements essential to the required technology. Some are known to be concentrated in submarine deposits bringing to the fore the necessity to seriously consider marine mining. As all mineral rights come with environmental responsibility, conservation issues are critical. Most of the oceans are underlain by oceanic crust. This forms at mid-ocean ridges where mineral deposits develop through magmatic and hydrothermal processes, most notably base metal sulphide deposits. Due to sea-floor spreading, this crust and its mineral deposits move away from the mid-ocean ridge and therefore underlie all the oceanic basins. While the crust slowly becomes covered by a thin layer of sediment, precipitation from ocean water forms ferromanganese encrustations and polymetallic nodules. On submerged continental shelves, placer deposits such as diamonds and heavy minerals are derived from the adjacent continent while biological processes form phosphate deposits. The mining method and environmental effects depend on a number of factors, including the type of deposit, substrate, geographic position, depth, and currents. The experience gained from marine mining of placer deposits is important when considering the extension of mining into the deep-sea environment.

Technical and juristic perspectives on deep seabed mining in South African waters and beyond
11:47AM - 11:59AM
Presented by :
Hayley Cawthra, Council For Geoscience And Nelson Mandela University

The deepest parts of the world's ocean, occupying ~60% of the sea space, feature mineral deposits with concentrations richer than most on land, and ecosystems found nowhere else on Earth. Deep-sea extraction technologies are being developed and are almost at the point where a lengthy process of exploration of seabed minerals can soon give way to exploitation. The International Seabed Authority (ISA) is charged with formulating and enforcing sustainable rules for all seabed mining that takes place in waters beyond national jurisdiction (the 'Area'). Environmental regulations, liability and financial rules, oversight, and enforcement protocols are currently being written by its member states. One of the distinguishing features of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is its declaration that the Area must be considered "the common heritage of (hu)mankind" and those mining operations should be conducted to reflect that fact. Mechanisms of benefit sharing are yet to be determined. As of August 2021, no mining operations have started. Ongoing exploration activities are aimed at gathering mineral and environmental baseline data. To date, the International Seabed Authority has approved 31 contracts for exploration involving 22 different countries and covering more than 1.3 million km2 of the seabed, representing 0.3% of the world's oceans. Twelve of these contracts are sponsored by developing countries but no African countries have yet taken part. South Africa has a sizeable maritime area and a pending claim for a further extended continental shelf around both its mainland and island territories. It has extensive borders within the Area and potential for polymetallic nodules and crusts. SA is a party to the UNCLOS and actively contributing to the mining code. This presentation discusses the technical workings of deep-sea exploration licensing and practice and a South African perspective on the value chain. Importantly, this talk considers the need for baseline data and information to ensure sustainable future mining, taking into account spatial planning and conservation.

Bathymetry, substrate, and currents: Towards ground up marine spatial planning, conservation and marine mining
12:00 Noon - 12:12PM
Presented by :
Errol Wiles, South African Institute For Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB)
Co-authors :
Michael Watkeys, University Of KwaZulu-Natal

Seafloor bathymetry is the foundation of the world's oceans, it indicates ocean depth, describes geomorphological characteristics of the seafloor, and controls thermohaline circulation pathways. Bathymetry thus provides the spatial framework for everything in the marine spectrum, from mining to conservation. Furthermore, bathymetry data offers insight into the likely seafloor type; seamounts, outcrop, reef, and unconsolidated sediments can be resolved and quantified in a spatial context. Currents operating within the oceans range across vast scales, from global pathways to local eddies, from surface currents to bottom water circulation at 4,500 m depth. Although forced by, primarily, temperature, salinity, and wind, currents are controlled by bathymetry, and many interact with the seafloor directly, or indirectly. Currents are fundamental to the exchange of nutrients, life cycles of various marine fauna and flora, and sediment transport. The latter is of particular interest in the context of marine mining where disturbed seafloor sediments, or spoils, may be entrained and redistributed beyond mining concessions. Oceans and their resources are being tapped by a growing multitude of anthropogenic needs: cleaner energy requires extraction of novel minerals, marine biopharmaceutical exploration is becoming increasingly common, ongoing tourism, the growth of economies, the necessity for food security, etc. Managing these facets of growth with conservation in mind is challenging, and requires informed and quantifiable marine spatial planning. Understanding bathymetry at various scales, defining seafloor type, and constraining current dynamics are crucial to understanding resource potential as well as impacts related to extraction/exploitation of marine resources. This is more crucial for the conservation of marine areas - how do you effectively conserve and manage what you cannot see or quantify? Hence, marine spatial planning requires a solid and quantifiable foundation to enable effective and meaningful management of marine resources.

Taking a closer look at the seafloor: Multibeam bathymetry as a basis for marine spatial planning
12:12PM - 12:17PM
Presented by :
Thamsanqa Wanda, Independent
Co-authors :
Errol Wiles, South African Institute For Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB)
Hayley Cawthra, Council For Geoscience And Nelson Mandela University

Globally there is a shift to embrace “blue economies” that promote the services and resources that the ocean provides to humankind. In parallel with these developments, there is a strong focus on seabed mapping with vastly improved technology. Given a growing global population and increasing reliance on ocean services (which may conflict with each other), a need for marine spatial planning (MSP) within South Africa’s ocean space emerges to balance sustainable economic growth, ecological and social objectives. In 2019, the South African government expanded the marine protected areas, within the continental exclusive economic zone, and now these protected areas constitute just over 5% of the ocean space. To better classify and quantify the seafloor, this project will use multibeam bathymetry to survey specific sites. Areas surveyed will include consolidated reef complexes and unconsolidated sediments at depths between 10 and 100 m along the KwaZulu-Natal eastern continental shelf. These consolidated reefs serve as marine habitats, providing considerable ecosystem services to the blue economy that are yet to be fully quantified. The rugged geomorphological character of the reefs likely provides several biological niches while driving interactions between the Agulhas Current and seafloor geological framework. Integrated analysis of the reefs from a multidisciplinary perspective will greatly improve the understanding of ecosystem functioning, improve MSP and management of marine resources. The bathymetry data collected will provide a baseline against which global change can be measured, without which, seafloor changes can only be qualitatively described.

The potential of marine mining of ferromanganese encrustations and polymetallic nodules in the deep marine environment offshore of south-east Africa
12:18PM - 12:30PM
Presented by :
Michael Watkeys, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Co-authors :
Samantha Perritt, CSIR
Warren Kretzinger, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Maria Ovechkina, Geological Survey Of Israel
Errol Wiles, South African Institute For Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB)
Wilfried Jokat, Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre For Polar And Marine Research, Bremerhaven, Germany

Ferro-manganese encrustations and polymetallic nodules dredged offshore of southeast Africa from the Natal Valley, the Mozambique Ridge and the Mozambique Basin, contain cobalt, nickel and copper. The critical factors controlling the chemistry and mineralisation style are the oxygen minimum layer, primary productivity in the surface waters and the calcium carbonate compensation depth. The combination of these has resulted in three different mineralisation zones: 1. Deepwater basin deposits; 2. Ridge flank deposits, formed below the base of the oxygen minimum layer; 3. Ridge crest deposits, formed within the oxygen minimum layer. The deposits seem to be hydrogenetic in origin with possibly some hydrothermal influence. Dating indicates a bimodal age distribution of these deposits: late Zanclean-Piacenzian (Pliocene) and Calabrian (Pleistocene)–Holocene. The calculated range of manganese precipitation rates is from 4.7–248.3 mm/Ma which is in excess of the rates expected for hydrogenetic deposits. At present the western half of the southern part of the Mozambique Ridge lies within South Africa's exclusive economic zone; the remainder should be incorporated with the expected extension of that zone. Currently, these marine resources are sub-economic given the onshore deposits in South Africa. Should the demand for "green energy" elements become such that marine mining is contemplated, the variable terrain and substrate of the region mean that conservation issues will be site-specific depending on, inter alia, location, depth of mining, mining method(s), and ocean currents.

60 years of marine diamond mining on the southern African continental shelf - a geologist’s perspective of conservation lessons learned that should be remembered for the mining of our green future
12:30PM - 12:42PM
Presented by :
Michael Shaw, Diamond Exploration Strategies

Diamonds are present on the southern Atlantic middle- and inner-continental shelf in economically mineable concentrations off the west coast of southern Africa. This is a result of the erosion of the southern African continental interior which hosts a large number of diamondiferous kimberlites. Diamonds have been mined from the Atlantic Ocean offshore of Namibia and South Africa on a large scale since 1961 in three distinct periods: 1) pioneering endeavours by American oil entrepreneur Sammy Collins on the inner-shelf during the late 1960s to early 1970s; 2) early-1990s to mid-2000s which was the advent of larger-scale middle-shelf moderate mining rate, and 3) high mining rate vessels lowering the average grade but drastically increasing the areas mined. Environmental impacts and subsequent rehabilitation are significantly influenced by the interaction of diverse geology, modern-day sediment supply, as well as oceanographic and meteorological variables, the relationship between which will be illustrated. Environmental management of large-scale mining has in some cases been carried out in accordance with internationally recognised management standards such as ISO 14001. In the course of this long, unprecedented and yet-to-be succeeded history of hard mineral mining on a continental shelf, considerable expertise and knowledge have been developed and curated. Such expertise and knowledge is particular to hard mineral mining from the sea-floor and distinct from continental shelf hydrocarbon exploration and extraction. The handover of these to future marine hard mineral mining ventures is important to contribute toward conscionable marine mining of essential minerals for our green future.

Deep-sea mining: The long-term cumulative impacts
12:43PM - 12:55PM
Presented by :
Bronwen Currie, Independent

Deep-sea mining, defined as marine mining in water depths greater than 200 m, is not yet allowed at a commercial scale anywhere in the world. Knowledge of potential mineral wealth lying beneath ocean waters is not new, however recent technological advances make physical excavation of mineral ore from the deep ocean now possible. Whilst large tracts of the ocean floor continue to be assessed geologically for their mineral potential, the consequences of long-term ecological and subsequent social impacts have not been adequately assessed, considered or addressed alongside the predicted monetary value of full-scale mining of these minerals from the deep sea. Obvious effects of mining in the mobile, liquid, interconnected ocean include destruction of the benthic life on the seabed, the release of toxic material, noise, and dispersal of impacts through sediment plumes to vast volumes of pelagic life. In contrast to terrestrial mining, impacts in this mobile liquid medium cannot be contained or retained within discrete areas. Overarching customary law requires all countries of the world to be legally responsible for the protection and preservation of the entire ocean, by "ensuring effective protection for the marine environment from harmful effects”. The inevitable long-term and cumulative impacts of ocean mining on the health of these important ecosystems that so obviously and directly provide essential ecosystem services to mankind has to date received insufficient attention. Using examples, impacts of concern have predictable socio-economic consequences. It is hardly surprising that awareness of these dangers, coupled with uncertainty regarding its viability, has already led governments around the world to express concern and exert extreme caution on deep-sea mining.

Question and Answer Session with Moderated Discussion: Marine Mining: Conservation Issues during Exploration and Exploitation
12:55PM - 01:30PM
Presented by :
Greta Pegram, Environmental Law Association (ELA) Of South Africa
Co-authors :
Michael Watkeys, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Hayley Cawthra, Council For Geoscience And Nelson Mandela University
Errol Wiles, South African Institute For Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB)
Thamsanqa Wanda, Independent
Michael Shaw, Diamond Exploration Strategies
Bronwen Currie, Independent
02:00PM - 04:00PM
Virtual Online Symposium - Parallel Session
Session Seven: Monitoring and Surveillance for Biodiversity Management
Format : Parallel Session | General Session | Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Moderators
Jeanne Tarrant, Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT)


This session will highlight examples and advances in monitoring and surveillance techniques, including novel use of genetic techniques for species and ecosystem monitoring.

Estimating spotted hyaena (Crocuta crocuta) density through by-catch data in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park

PJ RobertsWildlife ACT
An innovative approach to observations of amphibian behaviour: Camera traps for Kloof frogs (Natalobatrachus bonebergi)

Cherise Acker-CooperEndangered Wildlife Trust
Finding Frankenflora: Using PCR to rapidly detect hybrid proteas

Tim MacqueenSouth African National Biodiversity Institute & Nelson Mandela University
Metabarcoding of estuaries as a tool for biodiversity monitoring

Courtney FaggStellenbosch University
Capturing the large-scale biodiversity of South Africa's coastal fishes using environmental DNA

Molly CzachurStellenbosch University
Wing tags severely impair movement in Cape vultures (Gyps coprotheres)

Ryno KempVulPro
Avoiding local extinctions: The conservation actions implemented by the Zululand Vulture Project

Anel OlivierWildlife ACT
In pursuit of an enigmatic species – what it takes to conserve the blue swallow (Hirundo atrocaerulea)

Steve McKeanConservation Outcomes NPC

Direct Zoom link (only use if the Join Live button above fails) - https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87932119018

Session Seven Introduction
02:00PM - 02:05PM
Presented by :
Jeanne Tarrant, Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT)
Estimating spotted hyaena (Crocuta crocuta) density through by-catch data in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park
02:05PM - 02:17PM
Presented by :
PJ Roberts, Wildlife ACT
Co-authors :
Dan Parker, University Of Mpumalanga
Dave Druce, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Nokubonga Mgqatsa, Rhodes University

Spotted hyaenas (Crocuta crocuta) are in global decline, and protected areas are becoming isolated refugia for this species. Furthermore, density estimates are infrequent, ad hoc, and poorly standardised across their range. This research showcases how by-catch data from existing annual leopard camera trap surveys can be used to generate robust, comparable, estimates of density over time, as well as to describe spatial use behaviour. These results were compared against density estimates from tradition call-up surveys in 2013, 2015 and 2018. In this study, hyaenas in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park were estimated to average 16.72 (SD: ±2.22) hyaena per 100 km2 between 2013–2018, with an annual estimated high of 19.01 in 2018 and a low of 12.77 in 2015. Surprisingly, estimates generated through the conservative spatially explicit capture–recapture (SECR) analytical framework for camera trap data were consistently greater than those from the traditional call-up methods. This study discusses the shortfalls of the call-up technique when response probability factor is not periodically recalibrated for the study population, and highlights how using by-catch data to calculate hyaena density estimates from camera traps can by a highly cost effective means of monitoring these populations. We call for collaborative efforts to be made towards improving provincial and national understanding of a species of great ecological importance.

An innovative approach to observations of amphibian behaviour: Camera traps for Kloof frogs (Natalobatrachus bonebergi)
02:17PM - 02:29PM
Presented by :
Cherise Acker-Cooper, The Endangered Wildlife Trust
Co-authors :
Jeanne Tarrant, Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT)

Behavioural studies are important for expanding knowledge on species habitat requirements, reproductive behaviour and dispersal or migration patterns. The Endangered Natalobatrachus bonebergi (Kloof frog) is restricted to coastal forested rocky streambeds in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape Provinces of South Africa. Their expanded adhesive toe tips make them well adapted to move vertically and along slippery surfaces. This adaptation allows them to lay egg clumps on rocks, branches, and leaves that overhang slow-flowing streams into which hatching tadpoles drop to complete their development. The Endangered Wildlife Trust's Threatened Amphibian Programme, in collaboration with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife as part of provincial monitoring and surveillance protocols, have used these clumps to monitor a population of Kloof frogs in Vernon Crooks Nature Reserve since 2013. During this time, it was observed that females lay egg clumps on certain surfaces in specific sites on a regular basis, indicating that the Kloof frog may be habitual in its activities. This habitual nature allowed for experimentation in the use of a camera trap to investigate the species' behaviour. In December 2020, a Spypoint Force Dark camera was installed, and data was collected on frog activity, movement, and behaviours such as breeding and mating. In addition, environmental variables including temperature and rainfall were collected. This is the first known approach of this kind to monitor amphibian behaviour in South Africa and has been extremely successful in documenting behavioural patterns. Improved knowledge of species behaviour assists in understanding responses to changes in environmental conditions and disturbances, allowing conservation practitioners to adapt their management interventions. Protocols are being formulated for the use of camera traps in amphibian behaviour research, which can be applied to other amphibians. Amphibians are considered bioindicators for assessing the condition of habitats and camera trapping provides an additional valuable tool for informing conservation management.

Finding Frankenflora: Using PCR to rapidly detect hybrid proteas
02:30PM - 02:42PM
Presented by :
Tim Macqueen, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) / Nelson Mandela University
Co-authors :
Alastair Potts, Nelson Mandela University

The lack of examples of hybridisation within South African Cape fynbos lineages gives the impression that interspecific hybridisation events may be rare in this system. If this is the case, then long-distance translocations of plant species across the Cape are unlikely to have any impact on the genetic component of biodiversity. Here we demonstrate that local populations of Protea eximia have hybridised with the non-local and introduced Protea susannae at the Van Stadens Wildflower Reserve, situated near Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, using morphological and genetic data; DNA sequence data were obtained from the internal transcribed spacer from the nuclear ribosomal cistron and a noncoding region of the chloroplast. Of the 24 plants from the reserve that were analysed, 11 were identified as hybrids and, comparing nuclear and chloroplast signals, indicated bidirectional gene flow between these species. This is the first study demonstrating the potential threat of long-distance dispersal to the genetic integrity of local populations in a Cape lineage. Recommendations for the management of the hybrid Protea species would include removal of the current population that has introgressed, removal of cones, and, after the next fire, to reseed from nearby local P. eximia populations.

Capturing the large-scale biodiversity of South Africa’s coastal fishes using environmental DNA
02:42PM - 02:54PM
Presented by :
Molly Czachur, Stellenbosch University
Co-authors :
Mathew Seymour, Department Of Ecology, Swedish University Of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden
Simon Creer, Bangor University
Gary Carvalho, Bangor University
Sophie Von Der Heyden, Stellenbosch University

Fish and other marine biodiversity remain largely undersampled and species diversity underreported, yet marine biodiversity is increasingly exposed to anthropogenic pressures with subsequent effects on ecosystem resilience. The reliability of fish inventories worldwide often depends on taxonomic expertise, and invasive or resource-costly sampling methods, which compromises approaches to marine conservation. The dynamic oceanographic domain of South Africa supports over 2,000 fish species that utilise a range of habitat types, including seagrass meadows, mangrove forests, and rocky and sandy shores. Here we describe the fish biodiversity of large-scale coastal habitats of South Africa using an eDNA metabarcoding method that, when compared with traditional methods, provides rapid species lists with reduced bias and less reliance on taxonomic expertise. Extensive troubleshooting and method optimisation led to a biomonitoring method that encompassed multiple coastal habitat types and allowed for large-scale datasets to be generated with a seasonal component. We have established the baseline knowledge for eDNA-based fish distribution in the region, and have demonstrated that eDNA metabarcoding is a useful biomonitoring tool for South African coastal fishes, proving successful across large spatial scales with the use of a single method that is inclusive of different coastal habitat types and climates, and across varying levels of coastal development and marine protection. With these large-scale surveys comes a new opportunity for understanding contemporary changes in South Africa's fish populations nationally, facilitating an evidence-based approach to marine conservation in the region.

Metabarcoding of estuaries as a tool for biodiversity monitoring
02:55PM - 03:07PM
Presented by :
Courtney Fagg, Stellenbosch University
Co-authors :
Sophie Von Der Heyden, Stellenbosch University

Monitoring biodiversity is essential to protect, preserve, and restore ecosystems; particularly in the face of increasing anthropogenic pressures. Traditional methods require extensive sampling, which can be costly and time-consuming, and rely on taxonomic expertise. An upcoming tool to monitor biodiversity is metabarcoding, which analyses the DNA shed by species in environmental samples (eDNA) to detect targeted or multiple species. eDNA has the advantage of being non-intrusive, efficient, and able to detect cryptic or rare species. Despite its growing popularity, most research has been performed on terrestrial environments with little focus on aquatic, and particularly estuarine, environments. Given estuaries' crucial ecological and economic functions, this study aims to explore the efficacy of metabarcoding for biodiversity monitoring in estuaries. Six Zostera capensis (seagrass) estuaries along the coastline of South Africa were sampled through metabarcoding. Sampling included two estuaries for each of the three coastal biogeographic regions. To explore the impact of sampling mediums, eDNA samples from both sediment and water mediums were collected and sequenced with the Leray-XT CO1 primers. The resulting operational taxonomic units (OTUs) at the class level for sediment and water mediums were compared with ANOVAs. Sediment returned significantly more OTUs, as well as more unique OTUs, than water at most sites. Community composition was investigated with Bray-Curtis dissimilarities and ordination plots to test the hypothesis that sites within biogeographic regions will be more similar than sites between biogeographic regions. PERMANOVAs confirmed that closer sites were significantly more similar in their community composition than distant sites. Models to test the impacts of environmental variables on community similarity found that surface temperature, salinity, and seagrass cover had significant linkage to community composition. Metabarcoding proved useful as a powerful tool for biodiversity monitoring of estuaries as it was able to discern unique species and inform community composition.

Wing tags severely impair movement in Cape vultures (Gyps coprotheres)
03:07PM - 03:19PM
Presented by :
Ryno Kemp, VulPro NPC
Co-authors :
Teja Curk, Max Planck Institute For Ornithology
Martina Scacco, Max Planck Institute For Ornithology
Kamran Safi, Max Planck Institute For Ornithology
Martin Wikelski, Max Planck Institute For Ornithology
Wolfgang Fiedler, Max Planck Institute For Ornithology
Kerri Wolter, VulPro

To better understand the movement ecology of animals is of utmost importance in conservation research, but the effects of tracking devices are sometimes neglected. Patagial (wing) tags are used worldwide on endangered vulture species for resightings, but the impact of these tags on flight behaviour and aerodynamics is unknown. Furthermore, tagging raises welfare concerns and could lead to misinterpreting and reducing the comparability of results across individuals and populations. We compared the flight performance (e.g. daily proportion of time spent flying, daily distance travelled, daily medium ground speed) of 27 captive-bred (n = 13) and wild-caught (n = 14) Cape vultures (Gyps coprotheres) marked with either patagial tags or coloured leg bands using the same backpack-mounted GPS devices. Our results showed that birds with patagial tags travelled shorter distances, were less likely to fly and flew slower than birds with leg bands. One individual's flight performance improved when its patagial tags were replaced with leg bands, suggesting that this individual was previously hindered in its movement. Unfortunately, we could not assess these tags' impact on the body condition or survival, but our study emphasises that patagial tags significantly change aspects of flight performance. Therefore, we don't refute that other variables played a role in the movement behaviour of these birds. Still, we cannot conclude that the different environmental conditions, including resources distribution and weather conditions, played a role without any supporting evidence. Furthermore, our study highlights the importance of investigating the impact of tagging methods on the conservation of the study species and the quality of the scientific results. However, more research needs to be conducted to understand the consequences of tagging methods and GPS devices fully.

Avoiding local extinctions: The conservation actions implemented by the Zululand Vulture Project
03:20PM - 03:32PM
Presented by :
Anel Olivier, Wildlife ACT
Co-authors :
Brent Coverdale, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Chris Kelly, Wildlife ACT
PJ Roberts, Wildlife ACT

The Zululand region, of the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province of South Africa, supports the southern-most nesting range of African White-backed (AWB), Lappet-faced (LF) and White-headed Vulture species in Southern Africa. A myriad of anthropogenic threats, of which poisoning is the greatest, are resulting in these species' teetering on the brink of local extinction and the subsequent loss of ecosystem services, through the disposal of rotting carcasses, that vultures provide. Annual fixed-wing nest surveys, complemented by intensive ground surveillance undertaken by the Zululand Vulture Project, have revealed an estimated 70–80% decline in nesting pairs of all three species between 2010 and 2020 in the Northern Zululand breeding complex. To mitigate this decline, a poison response team has been established and equipped to respond to, and meticulously record, all reported poisoning events. The team has responded to ten intentional mass poisoning events in Northern Zululand between 2019 and 2021. A total of 110 carcasses have been recovered and twelve live individuals entered an intensive rehabilitation process, of which all have been released back into the wild. To better understand the impact of lead exposure on vultures, lead levels were tested of 107 AWB and LF vultures, wild-caught and retrieved carcasses, between 2019 and 2021. Preliminary findings revealed 36,8% (n = 19) of sampled AWBs had blood lead concentrations over 10 μg/dL, the accepted upper limit of background exposure. The average lead concentration in AWB bones (dry mass) was 4,04 μg/g (n = 79), indicating a low but noteworthy presence of long-term lead exposure. Reducing mortalities from poisoning events and the exposure of vultures to lead is critical, but must be accompanied by the collaborative buy-in from landowners, communities, and the hunting industry, if these species are to survive in Northern Zululand.

In pursuit of an enigmatic species – what it takes to conserve the blue swallow (Hirundo atrocaerulea)
03:32PM - 03:44PM
Presented by :
Steve McKean, Conservation Outcomes NPC
Co-authors :
Brent Coverdale, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

Blue swallows (Hirundo atrocaerulea) are a vulnerable species internationally and evaluated as Critically Endangered in South Africa. This species is threatened by destruction, degradation and fragmentation of its grassland and wetland habitats in both its breeding (southern Africa) and non-breeding (East Africa) grounds. In KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), this species has a narrow habitat preference for Moist Midlands Mistbelt Grasslands. The grasslands extent is declining annually through land-use change. While contributing to protected area expansion goals and supporting private and communal landholders to conserve areas essential for threatened bird species, the BirdLife SA-Conservation Outcomes partnership, with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, is coordinating blue swallow monitoring and conservation in KZN. This presentation discusses monitoring results and trends in blue swallow population status since the early 2000s. Blue swallow populations in KZN have declined at about 3.3% annually since 2000, attributed mainly to habitat loss and degradation and lack of or poor monitoring in some years. However, with improving monitoring, an improvement in breeding success has been recorded since 2018. Our presentation covers possible reasons for the observed trends (e.g. habitat loss, inadequate monitoring) and outlines actions taken which contribute to conservation targets for this species. For example, as almost the entire blue swallow population in KZN is found on private or communal land, securing habitat through the KZN Biodiversity Stewardship programme is a critical action to address a declining population. Recommendations include continued and improved monitoring, securing and supporting additional blue swallow habitat and working with regional BirdLife partners to address the many unanswered questions on this species migration, habitat and survival in its East African overwintering grounds. 

Question and Answer Session with Moderated Discussion: Monitoring and Surveillance for Biodiversity Management
03:44PM - 04:00PM
Presented by :
Jeanne Tarrant, Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT)
Co-authors :
PJ Roberts, Wildlife ACT
Cherise Acker-Cooper, The Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tim Macqueen, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) / Nelson Mandela University
Courtney Fagg, Stellenbosch University
Molly Czachur, Stellenbosch University
Ryno Kemp, VulPro NPC
Anel Olivier, Wildlife ACT
Steve McKean, Conservation Outcomes NPC
02:00PM - 04:00PM
Virtual Online Symposium - Parallel Session
Session Eight: Lead (Pb) and Wildlife: Issues, Challenges and Progress Towards Ensuring Wildlife is Not Harmed by Exposure to Lead
Format : Parallel Session | Special Session | Keynote Presentations | Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Moderators
Melissa Lewis, BirdLife South Africa

This special session, organised in collaboration with the South African Lead Task Team, will focus on issues, approaches and progress relating to reducing the exposure of wildlife to lead (Pb), in particular from wildlife management and the wildlife economy.

Lead (Pb) is a toxin harmful to all forms of life, including wildlife and people. In the face of growing evidence of harmful effects, regulations to reduce human exposure to lead have been put in place, and, increasingly, international environmental instruments and national legislation are seeking to reduce exposure and harm to wildlife. Much progress has been made in North America and Europe in reducing exposure of wildlife to lead, while an understanding of the threats and implementation of mitigation actions in Africa is in its infancy.

This session will start with an overview of the issues, and an assessment of the successes and challenges of implementing actions, in the USA and Europe. The implications and lessons for Africa will be extracted from the presentations, followed by a facilitated discussion. While a late starter, Africa has the advantage of entering the discussions after the global science and evidence-based has matured, and where we can benefit from lessons learnt, many the hard way.

The remainder of the session will focus on South African approaches to addressing the threat of lead to wildlife, including summarising the state of knowledge, emphasising the importance of a collaborative approach, understanding voluntary measures implemented by the hunting industry to ensure that hunting is responsible and sustainable, and evaluating progress and challenges in ensuring the availability of alternative non-lead ammunition. All the issues, lessons and challenges in South Africa are relevant to the rest of Africa.

Twenty-four years of species recovery – what to do with what we've learned

Chris ParishThe Peregrine Fund & North American Non-Lead Partnership
On the way to lead-free hunting - the European approach and experience

Dr. Niels Kanstrup
Aarhus University
The South African Lead Task Team: A collaborative approach to a complex problem

Ian Rushworth
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife & South African Lead Task Team 
Reducing risks of lead to wildlife – the SA Hunters and Game Conservation Association approach

Lizanne Nel
SA Hunters and Game Conservation Association
The challenges of switching to lead-free ammunition in South Africa

Johannes (Boetie) Kirchner
SA Hunters and Game Conservation Association

Direct Zoom link (only use if the Join Live button above fails) - https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87927217594

Session Eight Introduction
02:00PM - 02:10PM
Presented by :
Melissa Lewis, BirdLife South Africa
Twenty-four years of species recovery – what to do with what we've learned
02:10PM - 02:40PM
Presented by :
Chris Parish, The Peregrine Fund & North American Non-Lead Partnership

The near-extinction of North America's largest flying land-bird and attempts to recover the California condor is known to many, but the details of the why and how are less known. The trials and tribulations of human history in endangered species management offer landscape-scale insights into an ever-changing arena of conservation. Should we succeed in recovering this species, it will be a testament to our ability to observe, study, and respond accordingly to better manage preventable impacts on ecosystems and the species within. Lead poisoning remains the single greatest threat to the recovery of the California condor and the implications for other less-studied species are equally important. Science alone does not make conservation. How we approach the problem is as important as the science in solving these complex issues. The North American Non-lead Partnership is the next step.

On the way to lead-free hunting – the European approach and experience
02:40PM - 03:05PM
Presented by :
Niels Kanstrup, Aarhus University

Lead in its inorganic or organic form is a highly toxic heavy metal, for which all organisms have no biological need. Exposure to lead is the most common source of animal poisoning from all metals combined. Consequently, the use of lead has become heavily regulated, for instance in gasoline and paint, with the result that its dispersal into the environment from human sources has decreased dramatically over the last 30 years. In stark contrast, the use of lead in ammunition remains (until now) an almost unregulated source of lead, contributing an estimated >20,000 tonnes annually in the European Union (EU) alone. The adverse impacts and negative consequences of ammunition lead are extremely well documented. The incompatibility of the use of lead in hunting ammunition with sustainable and wise use is, in all senses and interpretations of these principles, well established. Some countries have regulated the use of lead in hunting ammunition, however, most have done so only partially. This year, the European Commission banned the use of lead shot for hunting in wetlands throughout the 27 member states with effect from 2023. Initiatives have also been started to restrict all civil use of lead in ammunition, including outdoor sport shooting and in fishing gear, but these await a final decision by the EU. European manufacturers already produce non-lead alternatives for shotgun and rifle ammunition. Scientific results and the personal experiences of millions of hunters in countries with existing and longstanding regulations and effective enforcement demonstrate that transition to non-lead hunting is possible without harming the hunting community or jeopardising basic demands for the efficiency and safety of hunting. The main resistance to change comes from the ammunition industry, and international and national hunting organisations, which have been forceful and effective in opposing change. Efforts by conservationists and scientists to promote a transition to non-lead alternatives are not an attempt to harm hunting interests. On the contrary, the change will benefit all, not least hunters, because removing this source of a toxic substance from the environment will strengthen the perception and support of hunting as a sustainable and responsible pursuit.

Question and Answer Session with Moderated Discussion Part I: Lead (Pb) and Wildlife: Issues, Challenges and Progress Towards Ensuring Wildlife is Not Harmed by Exposure to Lead
03:05PM - 03:15PM
Presented by :
Melissa Lewis, BirdLife South Africa
Co-authors :
Chris Parish, The Peregrine Fund & North American Non-Lead Partnership
Niels Kanstrup, Aarhus University
The South African Lead Task Team: A collaborative approach to a complex problem
03:15PM - 03:22PM
Presented by :
Ian Rushworth, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

With a well-established international and a growing local evidence-base about the harm that lead (Pb) is causing to wildlife and human health, the South African government established a multidisciplinary Lead Task Team (LTT) in 2019. The vision of the LTT is to ensure that wildlife are not harmed by exposure to lead and the team is undertaking a number of collaborative actions to achieve this vision. Membership consists of government, NGOs, veterinarians, academics, and representatives from hunting and fishing user groups. This presentation will give a brief overview of the work and approaches of the LTT in ensuring a reduction in exposure to lead by wildlife in South Africa. Awareness of the harm caused by lead is an essential component of the strategy, and the LTT has found that many individuals are willing to change their behaviour or transition to lead-free alternatives once they become aware of the unintended harm that lead bullets and fishing tackle may cause to wildlife. A collaborative approach is essential so that there is a common understanding of the issues and evidence and an understanding of the barriers and challenges relating to a transition to lead-free alternatives. Only through all role-players working together can we overcome the challenges and move towards a sustainable future where wildlife and people are not unintentionally harmed by lead.

Reducing risks of lead to wildlife – the SA Hunters and Game Conservation Association approach
03:22PM - 03:40PM
Presented by :
Lizanne Nel, SA Hunters And Game Conservation Association

Responsible hunters unquestionably have a deep connection with nature. When you spend hours in the veld, intensely aware of nature's sounds, smells and touch, it instils in you a pronounced respect for wildlife and an appreciation of how much we as people need these humbling moments in nature. It drives home the reality that we share the same planet, with finite resources and space, and that we have a huge responsibility to look after the wildlife heritage we rely on for so much more than simply food. Despite our best intentions, we do however have to acknowledge that like other wildlife enthusiasts, we also have an impact on the environment, even if unintentional. There is increasing international and local concern about the negative impacts of unintentional lead-based poisoning of wildlife resulting from, amongst other sources, the use of lead-based ammunition. A lack of information and open and honest discussion and collaboration between all role players can lead to polarisation on this matter, which is not conducive to mitigating the risks to wildlife and ensuring the long-term survival of threatened species. As an association that is well-known for its commitment towards conservation and responsible wildlife utilisation, the SA Hunters nd Game Conservation Association made the decision some years ago to actively engage in open and robust discussions and initiatives towards finding solutions to lead poisoning in wildlife. In this presentation, the approach and initiatives of the association towards reducing the risks of lead poisoning in wildlife will be discussed. Specific attention will be given to our initiatives in raising awareness amongst our own members and broader society. We will also share our successes, challenges and opportunities for the future.

The challenges of switching to lead-free ammunition in South Africa
03:40PM - 03:50PM
Presented by :
Johannes (Boetie) Kirchner, SA Hunters And Game Conservation Association

We all have a responsibility to, as far as possible, leave the smallest negative impact on our wildlife heritage. Much progress has been made in the development of new technology to make our lives easier and reduce our environmental footprint, including in the manufacture of firearms and ammunition. Many people, therefore, perceive that it is a very simple process to transition from using lead-based ammunition to lead-free ammunition. It is, however, our experience that the realities on the ground present us with multiple challenges in relation to availability and cost, especially in South Africa and the rest of Africa. These challenges will be discussed and data presented. As an association at the forefront of promoting conservation and responsible wildlife utilisation in South Africa, the SA Hunters and Game Conservation Association approaches these challenges with optimism. We have solicited the voluntary participation of hunters, wildlife managers, ammunition manufacturers, and the government in addressing some of these challenges, particularly through empowering role-players with information. In the presentation, interventions that have been put in place, as well as opportunities, will be discussed.

Question and Answer Session with Moderated Discussion Part II: Lead (Pb) and Wildlife: Issues, Challenges and Progress Towards Ensuring Wildlife is Not Harmed by Exposure to Lead
03:50PM - 04:00PM
Presented by :
Melissa Lewis, BirdLife South Africa
Co-authors :
Chris Parish, The Peregrine Fund & North American Non-Lead Partnership
Niels Kanstrup, Aarhus University
Ian Rushworth, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Lizanne Nel, SA Hunters And Game Conservation Association
Johannes (Boetie) Kirchner, SA Hunters And Game Conservation Association
02:00PM - 04:00PM
Virtual Online Symposium - Parallel Session
Session Nine: Conservation Café I - Protecting Species Across Land and Sea
Format : Parallel Session | Moderated Discussion | Workshop
Moderators
Sandile Ntuli, WildTrust - WildOceans
Kezia Bowmaker-Falconer , Justice 4 Jaws | Youth 4 MPAs
Julia Penaluna, Justice 4 Jaws | Youth 4 MPAs
Mignon Voges, Nelson Mandela University


Conservation Cafés give all delegates an opportunity to join unstructured youth-led discussions on the topics of their choice, encouraging collaborative input and healthy debate in a non-conventional environment. The aim of the Conservation Café is to encourage constructive conversation, advance collaboration and provide a space to challenge conventional knowledge sharing at The Conservation Symposium. Each day, youth delegates (under the age of 40) will have the chance to suggest a topic of conversation on the Conservation Café boards. Youth delegates are encouraged to type in their topic to claim a spot on the agenda. The youth facilitating these sessions will select three topics from these lists to discuss each day, so be creative! Over the course of the symposium, nine discussion sessions will take place in three separate sessions, and ALL delegates are invited to join the Conversation Café.

Make sure to add your topic and discussion ideas (and comment on the ones already there) on the virtual whiteboard for today's Conservation Cafe.

Direct Zoom link (only use if the Join Live button above fails) - https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89642742194

Wednesday, 03 Nov 2021
09:00AM - 11:15AM
Virtual Online Symposium - Plenary Session
Session Ten: Values and Value in the Wildlife Economy
Format : Plenary Session | Special Session | Moderated Discussion
Moderators
Francis Vorhies, African Wildlife Economy Institute, Stellenbosch University

Panel discussion in collaboration with the African Wildlife Economy Institute and Oppenheimer Generations Conservation and Research

Wildlife conservation and economic development can be aligned through sustainable and inclusive wildlife economies. To do so requires an understanding of how we value wildlife and how these values translate into the ways we govern, manage and use wildlife. In turn, these underlying values provide the ethical and institutional framework in which wildlife can generate direct value for people in terms of social and economic benefits while contributing to conservation.

Aligning the nexus between how we value wildlife and how wildlife can deliver value for people is critical to ensuring that wildlife economics is both sustainable and inclusive. For example, a recent High-Level Panel Report in South Africa adopted a systems approach for considering how the country's wildlife economy could better contribute to both conservation and development. It addressed issues related to ethics, governance and operations, and concluded that "There are massive untapped sustainable socio-economic opportunities from growing an integrated, transformed wildlife economy".

The Report makes numerous recommendations on complex systemic issues such as a one welfare approach, transformation, international reputation, a national biodiversity policy, governance inefficiencies, cooperation with agriculture, capacity building, wildlife production systems, and responsible wildlife use. Such issues are directly pertinent to growing sustainable and inclusive wildlife economies across the continent. In this session, our panellists will explore how we can address such issues to scale up Africa's wildlife economies that conserve wildlife through benefiting people.

Dr Francis Vorhies (Facilitator)

Director, African Wildlife Economy Institute, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Nonkqubela Mayatula

Director, Wildlife Ranching South Africa and Owner, Miarestate Hotel and Spa
Dr Victor Muposhi

Executive Dean, School of Wildlife, Ecology & Conservation at Chinhoyi University of Technology, Zimbabwe
Angus Middleton

Executive Director, Namibia Nature Foundation, Namibia
Daudi Sumba

Senior Researcher, School of Wildlife Conservation, African Leadership University, Kenya

Direct Zoom link (only use if the Join Live button above fails) - https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89267060348

Panel Discussion: Values and Value in the Wildlife Economy
09:00AM - 11:15AM
Presented by :
Francis Vorhies, African Wildlife Economy Institute, Stellenbosch University
Co-authors :
Victor Muposhi, ALU
Angus Middleton, Namibia Nature Foundation
Daudi Sumba, African Leadership University
11:30AM - 01:30PM
Virtual Online Symposium - Parallel Session
Session Eleven: Sustainable Resource Use – Finding the Balance
Format : Parallel Session | General Session | Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Moderators
Louise Swemmer, South African National Parks


This session reports on some of the consequences of the use of biodiversity and seeks ways to ensure sustainable resource use, including through an understanding and appreciation of human belief systems, behaviours and cultures.

Balancing effective conservation with sustainable resource use: Can it be achieved in urban protected areas?

Zodwa NgubenieThekwini Municipality
A participatory approach to developing environmental literacy to protect the freshwater resources used by African Apostolic faith communities

Dr. Cathy DzerefosTshwane University of Technology
Medicinal plant cultivation: Beliefs and perceptions of traditional healers and muthi traders in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, South Africa

Nolwazi MbongwaUniversity of the Witwatersrand
Natural resource use: Investigation of firewood availability and collection patterns in the ka-Homu area

Nyiko MutileniUniversity of Limpopo
Differential tree response to woodland management for fuelwood supply in the Sudanian zone, West Africa

Dr. Eméline AssèdéUniversity of Parakou
Temporal and spatial ecology of the iconic KwaZulu-Natal yellowfish (Labeobarbus natalensis) in a socio-economically important river

Dr. Matthew BurnettUniversity of KwaZulu-Natal
Population structure and genetic diversity of wild Mozambique tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus) in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa

Mahlatse MashaphuUniversity of KwaZulu-Natal
Understanding South Africa's captive lion (Panthera leo) sector and the trade in captive lions

Christina HillerEndangered Wildlife Trust

Direct Zoom link (only use if the Join Live button above fails) - https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86726142964

Session Eleven Introduction
11:30AM - 11:35AM
Presented by :
Louise Swemmer, South African National Parks
Balancing effective conservation with sustainable resource use: Can it be achieved in urban protected areas?
11:35AM - 11:47AM
Presented by :
Zodwa Ngubeni, EThekwini Municipality

eThekwini Municipality has undertaken a 19-year expansion of its protected areas through biodiversity stewardship and land acquisition. However, the increase in incidences of poaching, livestock grazing, land invasion, and muthi plant harvesting continue to pose threats to species and resources in protected areas. The 'urban' context of the municipality can be considered as a low-choice planning environment and every open space is important and highly contested. Therefore, it is necessary to balance community needs and biodiversity objectives through a policy shift from "no-go areas" to mixed-use that supports the subsistence needs of communities adjacent to the protected areas. The main aim of this paper is to present an argument for sustainable resource use within the eThekwini Municipality's protected areas as part of benefit sharing that seeks to strengthen relationships with communities living adjacent to protected areas and avert further uncontrolled resource over-exploitation within these areas. eThekwini Municipality is currently undertaking controlled trials for livestock grazing and muthi harvesting programs within designated mixed-use zones of some of its protected areas in order to assess the feasibility of controlled sustainable use. To facilitate this a policy is being drafted based on the principles of adaptive social-ecological management which will require ecological monitoring programs to determine (a) changes in species composition and veld condition as a result of grazing, and (b) changes in the demography and reproductive phenology of target species of muthi harvesters. The data collected will be used to further inform decisions concerning the management of annual stocking rates and muti harvesting quotas.

A participatory approach to developing environmental literacy to protect the freshwater resources used by African Apostolic faith communities
11:47AM - 11:59AM
Presented by :
Cathy Dzerefos, Tshwane University Of Technology

There is a growing practice within the African Apostolic faith in using naturally sourced freshwater from springs, waterfalls, and rivers for baptisms and other rituals related to cleansing and healing in significant water catchment areas. The study aims to safeguard the use of natural water while protecting the function of the catchment and associated biodiversity. The Magaliesberg Biosphere Reserve spans both the Gauteng and the North West Provinces of South Africa falls within the Crocodile West-Limpopo Water Management Area where water deficits threaten economic growth. Efforts to preserve ecosystems can benefit from understanding both indigenous and scientific knowledge of a locality. An interdisciplinary, participatory action research design allows participants' values, experiences, and knowledge to guide the process. It aligns with current conservation discussions about interacting with faith leaders and communities and will lead to critical discourse in this area. Engaging in this research will help the community better understand the potential environmental effects of their practices and influence environmental policy and management.

Medicinal plant cultivation: Beliefs and perceptions of traditional healers and muthi traders in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, South Africa
12:00 Noon - 12:12PM
Presented by :
Nolwazi Mbongwa, University Of The Witwatersrand/SANBI
Co-authors :
Wayne Twine, Wits University
Vivienne Williams, Wits University

Cultivation of medicinal plant species has been recommended as a conservation intervention to reduce the pressure on wild populations that are under threat of extirpation due to overexploitation, but there have been reports of resistance among resource users to such initiatives. This resistance raises questions of whether there are cultural barriers to cultivation that go beyond the frequently cited concerns about their potency. This study, therefore, aimed to examine medicinal plant cultivation in the context of beliefs and perceptions held by resource users towards plants that are considered culturally acceptable to cultivate, those that should not be cultivated, and plants that are perceived to be scarce and/or declining in availability, and to evaluate whether there are relationships between these factors. A semi-structured questionnaire was used to interview 42 traditional healers and 72 muthi (traditional medicine) traders sampled from one rural village, two townships, and five traditional medicine markets between KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng Provinces, South Africa. Participants named 185 plant ethnospecies during the investigation (corresponding to ±171 species), of which, according to cultural norms and ancestral guidance, 98 ethnospecies were allowed to be cultivated, 68 should not be cultivated, and 23 were cited as being both allowed and should not be cultivated. There was a very weak, non-significant correlation (r= 0.15; r= 0.02; p = 0.07; d.f. = 146)  between ethnospecies that are culturally acceptable to cultivate and those that are perceived to be declining in availability, hence plants that were most frequently cited as declining tended not to be cited as those that were allowed to be cultivated. Plants perceived by respondents to be declining in the wild, and those that are acceptable for cultivation, are mostly listed as Least Concern on South Africa's Red List. There was also a weak, but significant correlation (r= 0.46; r= 0.21; p < 0.001; d.f. = 103)  between ethnospecies that both traditional healers and muthi traders said they were allowed to cultivate. Since traditional medicine practices encompass culture and the workings of ancestors, it is essential that resource users are included in cultivation initiatives to ensure that these interventions are culturally appropriate for them.

Natural resource use: Investigation of firewood availability and collection patterns in the ka-Homu area
12:12PM - 12:24PM
Presented by :
Nyiko Mutileni, Postgraduate, University Of Limpopo
Co-authors :
Bronwyn Egan, University Of Limpopo
Martin Potgieter, University Of Limpopo
Miranda Deutschlander, Unisa

Firewood plays a crucial role in the livelihoods of rural communities. On the other hand, heavy reliance on firewood is often linked with several environmentally related challenges such as deforestation, and loss of biodiversity. In ka-Homu villages, Limpopo, South Africa, the community collect firewood from the adjacent communal veld (buffer zone). The study aimed to investigate the availability and pattern of occurrence of firewood species across the buffer zone adjacent to Man'ombe Nature Reserve. A vegetation survey was undertaken to determine the following in the buffer zone across a measured distance interval: list of plant species harvested as firewood by the ka-Homu community and present in the buffer zone, dominant firewood species, firewood species distribution, and the most targeted firewood species. Twenty firewood species were noted in the buffer zone, including tree species listed protected under the National Forests Act, 1998 (act No. 84 of 1998) as well as tree species associated with taboos and legends. The harvesting of protected plant species and plant species previously associated with taboos and legends can be an indicator of the increase in the demand for firewood by ka-Homu community and the decrease of firewood species availability in the buffer zone. Colophospermum mopane (38%) was the most dominant firewood species in the buffer zone. Ka-Homu community harvest throughout the buffer zone and due to harvesting pressure the population of firewood species is not evenly distributed. However, analysis of variance indicated there is no statistically significant (p = 0.534) difference across measured distance intervals. This means that the community harvest firewood throughout the buffer zone. There is an increase in the population density of Dicrostachys cinerea, this increase is due to the cutting down of firewood species, hence, giving an opportunity for D.cinerea to encroach the buffer zone. ka-Homu community's livelihood. Colophospermum mopane (78%) and Combretum molle (61%) are the most targeted firewood species in the buffer zone. The use of firewood in the buffer zone threatens not only the population of the harvested plant species but the livelihood of ka-Homu community as they are dependent on the buffer for natural resources.

Differential tree response to woodland management for fuelwood supply in the Sudanian zone, West Africa
12:25PM - 12:33PM
Presented by :
Eméline Assèdé, University Of Parakou
Co-authors :
Honoré Biaou, Université De Parakou
Coert Geldenhuys, Forestwood Cc / University Of Pretoria

Managing a natural woodland to ensure the sustainable use of its products, mainly firewood, poles and timber, is receiving increasing attention worldwide and requires adapted strategies to improve stand productivity. This study aims to determine: i) the influence of selective stem thinning on tree height growth; and (ii) which tree species are most affected by the thinning intensity in the Sudanian zone of Benin, West Africa. Three homogeneous vegetation units of 80 m x 80 m each were identified, representing the three woodland development stages: stage 1 with stems <2 m height; Stage 2 with stems 2–4 m height; stage 3 with stems >4 m height. Three random blocks (repetitions) of 20 m x 20 m each, subdivided into four 10 m x 10 m treatment plots, were demarcated per vegetation unit. Four treatments were randomly allocated: T1 - no thinning and no pruning; T2 - 30% thinning; T3 - 60% thinning; T4 - 100% thinning. Branch pruning was applied to all remaining stems in treatments T2 and T3. Tree height of individuals ≥1 m was measured every six months in 2015 and 2016. Thinning had a positive effect on tree height growth, which varied with the stage, treatment, and species. It was significantly highest with T2 in stage 1, and with T3 both in stages 2 and 3. Terminalia avicennioides (105.5±1.05 mm), Acacia sp (61.5±0.59 mm), and Anogeissus leiocarpa (44±0.24 mm) had the best average height growth with T3 in stages 3 and 2, and T2 in stage 1, respectively. Overall, this study shows that a moderate thinning (T2) in the early woodland development stage 1 and a more severe thinning at later development stages 2 and 3 gave the best tree height growth. Long-term experimentation will hopefully confirm these results.

Temporal and spatial ecology of the iconic KwaZulu-Natal yellowfish (Labeobarbus natalensis) in a socio-economically important river
12:33PM - 12:45PM
Presented by :
Matthew Burnett, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Co-authors :
Gordon O'Brien, University Of Mpumalanga
Graham Jewitt, IHE DELFT
Colleen Downs, University Of KwaZulu-Natal

Understanding the biological response to increasing anthropogenic stressors is an important consideration \when evaluating ecosystem well-being. Among aquatic ecological indicators, fish are effective as they are mobile and can be monitored relatively easily. The socio-economically important uMngeni River in South Africa is a highly regulated 'working river' and has seen a reduction in the numbers of its iconic Labeobarbus spp. as a result, primarily the KwaZulu-Natal yellowfish L. natalensis. To understand how this species has adapted to these anthropogenic changes, we evaluated the reach-scale movements and habitat use of L. natalensis (n = 43) from August 2018 to August 2019 between Midmar and Albert Falls Dams and included the monitoring of environmental parameters using radio telemetry methods. We found L. natalensis showed facultative movements and typically exhibited diurnal activities. Habitat availability was important and appeared to depend on refugia during the austral winter (May to July) and spawning or body condition during the austral summer (December to February). Upstream reach-scale movements were cued primarily by water temperature and hindered by semi-permeable instream barriers in the study area. Maintaining adequate flows during critical periods of movement and spawning is important and will assist in maintaining the population of L. natalensis. Furthermore, removing redundant instream barriers or fitting adequate fish passages will improve the population resilience of L. natalensis. These mitigation measures will improve ecosystem resilience and reduce the impacts associated with increasing anthropogenic stressors associated with socio-economically important rivers.

Population structure and genetic diversity of wild Mozambique tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus) in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa
12:46PM - 12:58PM
Presented by :
Mahlatse Mashaphu, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Co-authors :
Colleen Downs, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Gordon O'Brien, University Of Mpumalanga
Sandi Willows-Munro, University Of KwaZulu-Natal

Oreochromis mossambicus is one of the most important freshwater fish species in the aquaculture industry. However, the natural populations of this species are continuously threatened primarily by hybridisation with the introduced species O. niloticus, and now O. mossambicus has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Within the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Province, South Africa, O. mossambicus occurs naturally in all major river catchments. Given the province's favourable climate, KZN has been identified as an important site for the expansion of the aquaculture industry in South Africa. Therefore, aquaculture of the species might be vital for its multiplication and genetic conservation. Despite this, little is known regarding the genetic diversity, population structure and genetic purity of wild O. mossambicus populations in the region. This study evaluated the genetic diversity and population structure of O. mossambicus populations collected from various river catchments across KZN. In addition, introgression and hybridisation of O. mossambicus populations with the introduced O. niloticus and O. aureus were evaluated. Analyses revealed low genetic diversity within populations, with the observed heterozygosity (He) and the number of alleles (Na) ranging from 0.12 to 0.46 and 4.14 to 10.00, respectively. Clustering analyses indicated shallow genetic structuring of the O. mossambicus populations from the different KZN river catchments. There was also no clear indication that the genetic differentiation and population structure was shaped by geographic distance between sampling sites, rather genetic relatedness was linked to historical and contemporary river connectivity. Clustering analyses revealed low levels of hybridisation and introgression between O. mossambicus and the two introduced species (O. niloticus and O. aureus). Anthropogenic activities, river connectivity patterns, and the introduction of invasive species seem to have shaped the current observed genetic diversity and structure of O. mossambicus in KZN. Therefore, conservation management plans should be directed to preserving the current genetic integrity of O. mossambicus populations from the river catchments with high genetic diversity. This will contribute positively to future applications and the development of sustainable aquaculture in the region.

Understanding South Africa’s captive lion (Panthera leo) sector and the trade in captive lions
12:58PM - 01:10PM
Presented by :
Christina Hiller, Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT)

South Africa is currently the only country with an extensive captive lion (Panthera leo) industry where captive-bred lions significantly outnumber wild and free-roaming populations. A polarised debate surrounds the practices of putting lions to commercial use; particularly, the hunting of captive lions, the trade in lion parts, and human interaction practices such as cub-petting garner heavy criticism. Yet, details about the sector's structure and functioning have not been examined. This research seeks to gain an in-depth and nuanced understanding of the captive lion sector, and the trade of captive lions and derivative products, and to relate the findings to perceptions about the meaning of sustainability and sustainable use. Based on 51 targeted semi-structured interviews with active industry role players and five focus group sessions with experts from related fields, this study comprehensively outlines the aspects responsible for the overall complexity of the captive lion sector. We shed light on the motives and attitudes of captive lion owners and how these form the basis of the uniqueness of every captive lion facility's business model. Furthermore, we demonstrate the existence of five distinct sector clusters and how their supply chains and breeding modes differ. Finally, we reveal how the increasingly restrictive and pressured context, both nationally and internationally, resulted in challenging trade conditions aggravated by the COVID pandemic. These challenges are paired with significant inconsistencies in understanding sustainability and sustainable use, leaving the captive lion sector in an existential crisis. The insights of this research will support more robust decisions about the sector. It will be critical to follow a nuanced approach to shape the sector's future, mindful of the five clusters. Simultaneously, we outline immediate measures to mitigate risks that stakeholder actions could worsen the situation further until a clear future scenario for the sector materialises.

Question and Answer Session with Moderated Discussion: Sustainable Resource Use – Finding the Balance
01:10PM - 01:30PM
Presented by :
Louise Swemmer, South African National Parks
Co-authors :
Zodwa Ngubeni, EThekwini Municipality
Cathy Dzerefos, Tshwane University Of Technology
Nolwazi Mbongwa, University Of The Witwatersrand/SANBI
Nyiko Mutileni, Postgraduate, University Of Limpopo
Eméline Assèdé, University Of Parakou
Matthew Burnett, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Mahlatse Mashaphu, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Christina Hiller, Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT)
11:30AM - 01:30PM
Virtual Online Symposium - Parallel Session
Session Twelve: Anthropogenic Threats to Biodiversity
Format : Parallel Session | General Session | Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Moderators
Yvette Ehlers Smith, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife


This session assesses anthropogenic activities, such as pollution (ranging from invisible pollutants to blatant human-generated waste) and human-wildlife conflicts, that negatively influence our natural environment and discusses ways in which this impact can be reduced through understanding people and changing the way we think.

The philosophy of connected landscapes and open minds

Dr. Michelle HenleyElephants Alive
The importance of community-based education to reduce human-snake conflict and promote snake conservation

Hiral NaikSave the Snakes
Opportunities and obstacles to changing KwaZulu-Natal's lethal shark nets: A qualitative study of stakeholder perceptions

Shanan AtkinsUniversity of the Witwatersrand
Assessing the extent of land-use change around important bat-inhabited caves

Dr. Mariette PretoriusUniversity of Pretoria
The Great Global Nurdle Hunt: Using citizen science to get a handle on the nurdle pollution problem

Lisa GuastellaAlan Smith Consulting
Evaluation of plastic waste in the Durban Bay: Concept design for implementation based on WildOceans Blue Port project findings

Masha RamsamoochWildTrust - WildOceans
The detrimental impact of herbicide exposure on seagrass (Zostera capensis)

Dr. JW Van WykStellenbosch University
Organochlorine pesticides in coral reef organisms from the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and links with coastal groundwater

Dr. Sean PorterOceanographic Research Institute
Illegal solid waste dumpsites along the Mthatha River: Impacts and implications on water quality

Lazola BanganiWalter Sisulu University
Behavioural response of the freshwater ornamental red cherry shrimp (Neocaridina davidi) to an acoustic stimulus

Saeed Shafiei SabetUniversity of Guilan

Direct Zoom link (only use if the Join Live button above fails) - https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88599557291

Session Twelve Introduction
11:30AM - 11:35AM
Presented by :
Yvette Ehlers Smith, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
The philosophy of connected landscapes and open minds
11:35AM - 11:47AM
Presented by :
Michelle Henley, Elephants Alive

The human population is expanding and in the process, protected areas are becoming compressed. Elephants have large spatial requirements and are known to compete with humans for resources. The close-knit social structure of elephants allows them to maintain transgenerational memories of the landscape before it was parcelled and compressed by human development. Human-elephant conflict is on the increase as elephants push our boundaries. African environmental ethics and the principles of ubuntu can be extended to the natural world in order to consider the interconnectedness and interrelatedness of all existence. The behaviour of path-finding elephant bulls can force people to soften or change historical barriers both of mind and in physical reality. We need to cultivate co-existence values when living with elephants that allow for hard boundaries when needed but also incorporate softer boundaries that allow trail-blazing bulls to link protected areas along routes that cross human-dominated landscapes. As the largest proportion of elephants are spread across political borders with most of their suitable habitat outside of protected areas, our view of where they should be and what we have offered them is too small. Elephants' cross-boundary movements and their forays into "our world" can increase the connectivity of the landscape, force us to consider neglected socio-ecological views and can be considered a call to action to open the corridors of the mind to allow them their freedom while increasing our tolerance. We stand to gain less intense management of fragmented protected areas, greater genetic diversity within meta-populations, increased maintenance of biodiversity goals at a landscape level, and socio-economic benefits to people living with elephants.

The importance of community-based education to reduce human-snake conflict and promote snake conservation
11:47AM - 11:59AM
Presented by :
Hiral Naik, Save The Snakes
Co-authors :
Chris Cooke, Hoedspruit Reptile Centre

Human-snake conflict is an increasingly common problem around the world, stemming from a lack of education about snakes. This conflict can often cause incidents of snakebites. To reduce human-snake conflict, education about snakes and snake safety is necessary. The Hoedspruit area in South Africa is predominantly rural with increasingly more development taking place. It is also home to a large diversity of venomous and non-venomous snakes which are often encountered and killed. To create a better relationship between snakes and humans in the area, and reduce snakebite incidents, the goal of this research was to mitigate human-snake conflict through effective education tools and mentorship, particularly in schools and through community outreach. The Snake Education and Community Awareness Program (SECAP) was born from a partnership between Save The Snakes, a non-profit organisation working to mitigate human-snake conflict, and the Hoedspruit Reptile Centre, an education and conservation-focused snake park. We visited various schools around Hoedspruit, conducted pre-talk surveys, interactive presentations, and a snake demonstration. The learners and community members had a range of different attitudes towards snakes, including many that fear and/or hate snakes. However, almost all learners expressed an interest in learning much more about snakes. A core part of our work also focuses on scientific research and bringing the science of snakes to the community and school curriculums. Our ongoing research efforts look at understanding the ecology and behaviour of snakes in the area, their relationship with the other wildlife, and their role in the environment. Through our continuing engagement with learners and community members, and showcasing snakes in a positive light, we hope to see a reduction in the number of snakebite incidents and replication of our approach in other parts of Africa.

Opportunities and obstacles to changing KwaZulu-Natal’s lethal shark nets: A qualitative study of stakeholder perceptions
12:00 Noon - 12:12PM
Presented by :
Shanan Atkins, University Of The Witwatersrand
Co-authors :
Judy Mann, South African Association For Marine Biological Research
Geremy Cliff, KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board
Neville Pillay, University Of The Witwatersrand
Mauricio Cantor, Universidade Federal De Santa Catarina

Shark nets are set to catch and kill sharks to protect bathers at popular swimming beaches in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), South Africa. This lethal bather protection system ensures human well-being and safeguards beach tourism (a valuable income generator) but is costly, financially and environmentally. We aimed to identify barriers and enablers to change the current method by investigating the knowledge and perceptions of stakeholders whose work intersects with the nets or the drivers and consequences of their use. We conducted semi-structured interviews of 29 people from 1) the KZN Sharks Board (a provincial entity responsible for the nets), 2) three levels of government (local, provincial, national), and 3) other affected organisations (e.g. tourism and conservation). Half of the interviewees (besides the KZN Sharks Board) did not know that shark nets are set to intentionally reduce shark populations. Barriers to changing the 70-year status quo included: the sense of liability of government officials, the political nature of the system, mindsets pertaining to sharks, shark bites and bather-protection in KZN (compared to other provinces), the lack of proven alternatives, the high cost of potential alternatives, the difficult high-energy surf conditions, and the slow progress of innovation. However, there are promising alternatives and education can rectify misconceptions about sharks, the very low risk of shark bites, and how the nets work. We recommend a programme that accelerates the development and testing of alternatives in KZN, a well-designed communication campaign, and an assessment of the barriers and enablers of changes to the relevant social structures (i.e. institutions, policies, socio-economic systems, and infrastructure).

Assessing the extent of land-use change around important bat-inhabited caves
12:12PM - 12:24PM
Presented by :
Mariette Pretorius, University Of Pretoria
Co-authors :
Wanda Markotter, University Of Pretoria
Mark Keith, University Of Pretoria

Modification and destruction of natural habitats are bringing animal populations into contact with humans. Consequently, the global emergence of zoonotic diseases is increasing, with bats considered an important transmission vector. Little information is available about the anthropogenic pressures these species face around important roost sites. In South Africa, at least two cavernicolous species are of interest as potential zoonotic hosts: the Natal long-fingered bat (Miniopterus natalensis) and the Egyptian fruit bat (Rousettus aegyptiacus). Both bats are numerous and widespread throughout the country; land-use changes and urban expansions are a rising concern for increased bat-human contact. Our study addressed this shortfall by determining the extent of land-cover change around 47 roosts between 2014 and 2018 using existing land cover datasets. We determined the land-cover composition around important roost sites (including maternity, wintering, and co-roosts), distances to urban settlements and assessed the current protection levels of roost localities. We detected an overall 4% decrease in natural woody vegetation (trees) within 5 km buffer zones of all roost sites, with a 10% decrease detected at co-roost sites alone. Agricultural land cover increased the most, near roost sites, followed by plantations and urban land-cover. Overall, roosts were located 4.15 ± 0.91 km from urban settlements in 2018, the distances decreasing as urban areas are expanding. According to the South African National Biodiversity Institute Ecosystem Threat Status assessment, 72% of roosts fall outside of well-protected ecosystems. The current lack of regulatory protection of cavernicolous bats and their roosts, increasing anthropogenic expansions, and close proximity to settlements raises concerns about increased human-bat contact. Furthermore, uncontrolled roost visitation and vandalism is increasing, contributing to bat health risks and population declines, though the extent of roosts affected is yet to be quantified. Our research calls for the protection of caves inhabited by bats.

The Great Global Nurdle Hunt: Using citizen science to get a handle on the nurdle pollution problem
12:25PM - 12:37PM
Presented by :
Lisa Guastella, Alan Smith Consulting
Co-authors :
Madeleine Berg, Fidra
Megan Kirton, Fidra

Nurdles are small pre-production plastic pellets used as raw material for manufacturing plastic products. Commonly described as akin to lentils, nurdles are usually circular, 2–5 mm diameter in size and clear to opaque white, but can be any colour, depending on the intended end product. Nurdles are regularly lost to the environment following spills during packaging, transporting, and manufacturing. Spilt nurdles enter stormwater drains and end up in waterways, estuaries, oceans, and beaches, where they can get inadvertently ingested by marine fauna such as turtle hatchlings, birds, and fish. In addition to clogging up animal digestive systems, nurdles adsorb harmful persistent organic pollutants (POPs) to their surface at high concentrations, including chemicals such as PCB's, DDT, and PAH. The Durban nurdle spill on 10 October 2017, when 2.25 billion nurdles spilt from two ship containers in the harbour, raised awareness of the extent of nurdle pollution on South African beaches. In addition to official clean-ups, many community groups along South Africa's eastern seaboard were mobilised to assist in clean-up efforts and a large number of nurdles were collected. Citizens can continue to contribute to ongoing research to highlight the general nurdle pollution problem by recording nurdle sightings on beaches using the international Great Global Nurdle Hunt platform (www.nurdlehunt.org.uk). This project was established in 2012 by Fidra, an environmental charity based in Scotland, aiming to demonstrate the widespread nature of the nurdle pollution problem and drive action to prevent this form of pollution at the source. Citizens are encouraged to go to their nearest beach to count the number of nurdles encountered and log their findings. Results from the last survey (2020), using more than 1,000 people, covering all seven continents and involving 65 organisations, indicated that 87% of beaches searched globally were polluted with nurdles.

Evaluation of plastic waste in the Durban Bay: Concept design for implementation based on WildOceans Blue Port project findings
12:37PM - 12:40PM
Presented by :
Masha Ramsamooch, WildTrust - WildOceans
Co-authors :
Steven Weerts, Council For Scientific And Industrial Research
Fiona Mackay, South African Association For Marine Biological Research

Ports are important in trade and transportation networks and have major significance as import/export facilities and for the development of surrounding coastal and urban areas. However, they are also hotspots for pollution, and often act as traps for solid waste (mainly plastic) that enters the port from its catchment. Durban Bay, although highly developed as a port, has retained important natural capital as a functional estuary. However, it is highly degraded in areas due to pollution emanating from surrounding urban and industrial activities. The WildOceans Blue Port project, established in 2019, focuses on progressively cleaning up the historical build-up of plastic waste in the port, and implementing sustainable mechanisms to manage waste input from its catchments. The Blue Port crew have collected 61,008 kg of waste, 32,800 kg of this being plastic from the Port of Durban. The project aims are to transform the Port into a healthier ecosystem and to contribute ecosystem services. However, to achieve these goals innovative methods for actioned research must be identified to improve the Blue Port team's current efforts. The study objectives are therefore to identify routes of entry of different plastic wastes into the port, their likely sources, their fates in the Durban Bay system, and their ecological consequences. To quantify spatial and temporal distributions of different plastic waste, historical data will be sourced and analysed and new data will be collected making use of ongoing Blue Port operations. The Durban Bay ecosystem types will also be classified and mapped, showing the distribution and persistence of plastic in different habitats. This will inform the design of targeted field experiments, investigating impacts of plastic waste in key ecological habitats, which in turn will inform likely ecosystem service impacts, and implications for socio-economic activities in the port.

The detrimental impact of herbicide exposure on seagrass (Zostera capensis)
12:41PM - 12:44PM
Presented by :
JW Van Wyk, Stellenbosch University
Co-authors :
Sophie Von Der Heyden, Stellenbosch University
Janine Adams, Nelson Mandela University

Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide globally and extensively utilised in agriculture in South Africa, leading to global concern about the impact of this product on the environment. With the 2018 National Biodiversity Assessment identifying the effects of pollutants on estuaries as one of the areas needing increased research, agricultural runoff, and the use of glyphosate in controlling invasive plants contributing to its presence in aquatic systems, this experimental research investigates the effect of glyphosate exposure on Zostera capensis, the dominant seagrass species in South Africa. This ecosystem engineer occurs in estuaries and sheltered bays along the coast and plays a vital role in fisheries, coastal protection, and climate mitigation. Although there is some research on the impact of glyphosate on other marine macrophytes, experimental studies on the impact of low-grade exposure over longer time frames are lacking. This study aims to identify the lowest level of glyphosate exposure at which an effect on growth, and therefore potentially fitness, of Z. capensis can be detected. Ramets (n = 360) were sourced from the Olifants river estuary, acclimatised in the laboratory for three weeks, and subsequently exposed to a single dose of glyphosate - control (0 ug/L), low (250 ug/L), intermediate (750 ug/L), and high (2,200 ug/L). After three weeks, a statistically significant difference in average leaf area (p < 0.001) and above-ground biomass (p < 0.05) was found, with average leaf area decreasing by 11% at 250 ug/L, 12% at 750 ug/L, and 27% at 2,200 ug/L. Above-ground biomass decreased by 11%, 20%, and 31% respectively. The observed effects on biomass and leaf area may affect resilience to additional stressors with the result that low-level exposure to glyphosate may have a negative effect on the long-term fitness of this species. This research emphasises the importance of monitoring herbicide levels and their impact, as well as restricting and controlling their use where aquatic systems could be affected.

Organochlorine pesticides in coral reef organisms from the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and links with coastal groundwater
12:45PM - 12:57PM
Presented by :
Sean Porter, Oceanographic Research Institute
Co-authors :
Marc Humphries, University Of The Witwatersrand
Archibold Buah-Kwofie, University Of The Witwatersrand
Michael Schleyer, Oceanographic Research Institute

Coral communities found along the Maputaland coastline constitute the southern limit of their distribution in the western Indian Ocean. Although the reefs are protected within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park World Heritage Site and are relatively pristine, they are potentially subjected to anthropogenic effects. These reefs are located adjacent to an extensive coastal plain that is host to several large lakes and expansive wetlands, where high concentrations of organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) have recently been detected. Monitoring over the past 25 years has indicated a steady decline in soft coral cover of almost 1% per year. This led the authors to postulate that the decrease in the cover of soft coral may be attributable to the chronic effects of OCP exposure via groundwater seepage from an adjacent coastal lake, Lake Sibaya. We aimed to assess spatial and interspecies variations in pesticide accumulation in coral reef invertebrates at five sites along the Maputaland coast. Markedly high levels of OCP residues were quantified within tissues, with total concentrations (ngg−1 ww) ranging from 460–1,200 (Sarcophyton glaucum), 1,100–3,000 (Sinularia gravis) and 450–1,500 (Theonella swinhoei), respectively. A decreasing gradient in total pesticide concentrations was detected southward from Regal Reef, opposite Lake Sibaya, the hypothesised source of the pollutants. Observed gradients in pesticide concentrations and δ15N signatures indicated coastal groundwater to be the probable source of the pollutants. Our study found some of the highest levels of OCPs in coral reef organisms globally. Observed gradients in pesticide concentrations, DDT:DDE ratios and nitrogen isotope signatures all suggested coastal groundwater to be the likely source of the pollutants. Further studies are required to assess the potential ecotoxicological impacts of these contaminants at the organismal and ecosystem level.

Illegal solid waste dumpsites along the Mthatha River: Impacts and implications on water quality
12:57PM - 01:09PM
Presented by :
Lazola Bangani, Walter Sisulu University
Co-authors :
Hlekani Kabiti, Risk And Vulnerability Centre, Walter Sisulu University
Oseni Amoo, Risk And Vulnerability Science Centre, Walter Sisulu University
Zendy Magayiyana, Walter Sisulu University
Motebang D.V. Nakin, Risk And Vulnerability Science Centre, Walter Sisulu University

Illegal solid waste dumping is a worldwide problem, more pronounced within informal settlements where no proper collection of waste is done by the municipality or waste authorities. When illegal dumping is practised along water bodies, it has the potential to affect water quality. This study aimed to map the hotspots of illegal dumpsites found along the middle course of the Mthatha River in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa, and evaluate their implications on the river water quality to make recommendations for proper waste management. To achieve the aim, field observations were made to identify the illegal dumpsites, and a Juno GPS was used to collect the coordinates from the identified illegal dumpsites and were later coded to QGIS for visual presentation of illegal dumpsites. To evaluate the implications on water quality, Hanna instruments were used to test the physical and chemical quality of water before and after the illegal dumpsites, and the results were analyzed in SPSS through Anova to compare water quality means. This study revealed that there are seven hotspots of illegal dumping along the middle course of the Mthatha River, lying between 0–100m from the watercourse. Water quality in the sampling points after the illegal dumping sites revealed the deterioration in water quality as compared to the water quality before the illegal dumping sites in terms of temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, nitrite, conductivity, and E. coli. Findings from this study imply that illegal dumpsites negatively impact water quality. Research reveals that deteriorated water quality poses threat to aquatic species and is not safe for human consumption. It is then recommended that the municipality take action against illegal waste dumping by providing enough skipper bins and collecting waste frequently to avoid built-up.

Behavioural response of the freshwater ornamental red cherry shrimp (Neocaridina davidi) to an acoustic stimulus
01:10PM - 01:13PM
Presented by :
Saeed Shafiei Sabet, University Of Guilan
Co-authors :
Laura López Greco, Universidad De Buenos Aires. CONICET. Instituto De Biodiversidad Y Biología Experimental Y Aplicada (IBBEA). Facultad De Ciencias Exactas Y Naturales , Buenos Aires, Argentina
Sasan Azarm-Karnagh, University Of Guilan

Sound-generating human activities have considerably increased ambient sound levels in the aquatic environment. Anthropogenic (man-made) sound is now recognised as a main source of pollution in the 21st century. Increasing evidence suggests that anthropogenic sound can affect the behaviour of aquatic species among taxa in different life stages and different contexts under laboratory and field conditions. The freshwater ornamental red cherry shrimp (Neocaridina davidi) is a gregarious species abundant in freshwater habitats. This species is native to China, Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam, and is recognised as invasive in the USA, Japan, and, recently, in Germany. Despite the fact that this invertebrate species has potential economic and ecological importance, there is little information about its behavioural performance in response to anthropogenic sounds. Many invertebrates, like vertebrates, are kept in captivity for several purposes under potentially loud and fluctuating sound conditions. The sounds present in such confined environments may affect their behaviour diversely. Here, in our laboratory-based experiment, we examined the effects of acoustic exposure on the behaviour (e.g. swimming activity such as swimming speed, spatial distribution, and foraging performance) of the freshwater red cherry shrimp. Our results show that the shrimps changed their swimming patterns and food-finding activities in response to acoustic exposure. We suggest that such acoustic stimuli may drive a similar behavioural response in the wild and elevate risks of starvation and predation and, subsequently, may negatively affect their fitness and reproductive success. Despite the methodological challenges of underwater sound propagation, measurement of sound pressure and particle velocity under laboratory conditions, our findings provide suggestive evidence that invertebrates, like vertebrates, may also be susceptible to the detrimental impacts of sound.

Question and Answer Session with Moderated Discussion: Anthropogenic Threats to Biodiversity
01:13PM - 01:30PM
Presented by :
Yvette Ehlers Smith, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Co-authors :
Michelle Henley, Elephants Alive
Hiral Naik, Save The Snakes
Shanan Atkins, University Of The Witwatersrand
Mariette Pretorius, University Of Pretoria
Lisa Guastella, Alan Smith Consulting
Masha Ramsamooch, WildTrust - WildOceans
JW Van Wyk, Stellenbosch University
Sean Porter, Oceanographic Research Institute
Lazola Bangani, Walter Sisulu University
02:00PM - 04:00PM
Virtual Online Symposium - Parallel Session
Session Thirteen: Plant Conservation Strategies in Southern Africa
Format : Parallel Session | Special Session | Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Moderators
Suvarna Parbhoo-Mohan, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)

This special session highlights advances in plant conservation made in southern Africa since the development of South Africa's Strategy for Plant Conservation in 2015.

Plants are recognised as a vital component for the functioning of the planet and are essential for animal life. Increasingly, the reality is becoming apparent that a large proportion of plant taxa and their ecological interactions are in danger of extinction. The threats causing plant extinctions are human-induced, such as habitat loss and transformation, over-exploitation, pollution, invasive alien species, and climate change. Should the rate of extinction not be reduced, countless opportunities to develop novel solutions to pressing economic, social, health, and industrial problems will be lost.

South Africa is a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and is committed to the implementation of a national strategy to conserve plants that aligns with the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC). With 6% of the world's plant diversity and strong botanical and conservation capacity, South Africa is well-placed to make a significant contribution to plant conservation globally.

The 20-year timeframe of the GSPC ended in 2020, with the concluding report suggesting that while the 16 targets of the global plan to protect plants are unlikely to be met, countries have made considerable progress towards achieving many of them. This session highlights the plant conservation advances made by South Africa and neighbouring countries.

Priorities for plant conservation in South Africa and links to the updated global strategy for plant conservation

Domitilla Raimondo
South African National Biodiversity Institute
South Africa's Red List priorities and our role in southern Africa

Hlengiwe MtshaliSouth African National Biodiversity Institute
The Botanical Society of South Africa: Implementing South Africa's Plant Conservation Strategy

Rupert KoopmanBotanical Society of South Africa
The importance of specialist surveys in environmental impact assessments for plant conservation

Warren McCleland
ECOREX Consulting Ecologists
Millennium Seed Bank Partnership's response to the plight of succulents in the Succulent Karoo Biome, South Africa

Victoria WilmanSouth African National Biodiversity Institute
Identifying Mozambique's critical sites for plant diversity and conservation through the Tropical Important Plant Areas programme

Iain DarbyshireRoyal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Traditional healers' insights for the development of biodiversity management plans for six threatened medicinal plant species, Mpumalanga, South Africa

Nolwazi Mbongwa
University of the Witwatersrand
Non-detriment findings for six South African Euphorbia species in tradeTasneem VariawaSouth African National Biodiversity Institute

Direct Zoom link (only use if the Join Live button above fails) - https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81134658630

Session Thirteen Introduction
02:00PM - 02:05PM
Presented by :
Suvarna Parbhoo-Mohan, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Priorities for plant conservation in South Africa and links to the updated global strategy for plant conservation
02:05PM - 02:17PM
Presented by :
Domitilla Raimondo, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)

South Africa's plant species, historically mostly threatened by loss of habitat to crop cultivation and infrastructure development, are coming under increasing pressure from other threats. This presentation will look at each of the three most recent serious pressures on South Africa's plants. These are the spread of invasive alien plant species, climate change and the impact of the prolonged drought that started in 2016, and the exponential increase in illegal poaching of succulent plants. Since the global community of plant conservation practitioners is currently updating the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, I will focus on the proposed targets linked to the management of invasive alien plants, habitat restoration, and species recovery interventions. These are the areas of the strategy that South Africa will need to focus our implementation on to abate the pressures currently being experienced by our plants.

South Africa’s Red List priorities and our role in southern Africa
02:17PM - 02:29PM
Presented by :
Hlengiwe Mtshali, SANBI National Botanical Gardens
Co-authors :
Domitilla Raimondo, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Iain Darbyshire, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

The South African National Biodiversity Institute's (SANBI) Threatened Species Unit completed a comprehensive assessment of about 20,500 plants in 2009. Since then, keeping these Red List assessments up to date has been a serious challenge given the extensive monitoring being undertaken by our citizen scientists, which typically results in previously unknown populations of plants being discovered. Furthermore, changes in land use and increases in threats across the country also mean that species are losing their habitats in certain regions. To address this challenge, we decided to regularly track a sample of 900 plant taxa that are statistically representative of all South Africa's plants. This sample is being used for long term monitoring of trends and shows that 16% of South Africa's plants are threatened with extinction and 5% of plant taxa increased in threat status over a 28 year period (1990–2018). Analysis shows that a large proportion of updated assessments were previously overlooked due to the incorrect application of the Red List categories and criteria; some have a genuine increase in threat status, and others have new/recent field information. The main pressure causing an increase in the risk of extinction is competition from invasive plant species which are affecting 40% of taxa. Other threats affecting South Africa's plants include crop cultivation, urban development, and habitat degradation as a result of livestock overgrazing. A new emerging threat that requires us to urgently update many species statuses is the impact of climate change. The extended drought that has impacted the western region of South Africa has resulted in many populations declining. While our task is huge, SANBI's Threatened Species Unit does not only focus on South African national assessments; we also undertake global assessments, submitting these to the IUCN Red List, and we play a role in the southern Africa region by assisting with reviewing assessments produced by other African countries.

The Botanical Society of South Africa: Implementing South Africa’s Plant Conservation Strategy
02:30PM - 02:42PM
Presented by :
Rupert Koopman, Botanical Society Of South Africa

The Conservation Unit at the Botanical Society of South Africa (BotSoc) has a history of strategic influence in conservation solutions ranging from programmes and initiatives such as Working for Water and stewardship, and engaging with industry around environmental best practices. BotSoc supported the development of South Africa's Strategy for Plant Conservation and this document informed our own Conservation Strategy. As such, our aim is to work with our members and partners to breathe life into the strategy to support plant conservation work. This includes mobilising resources for selected projects, activating support for citizen science, key botanical inputs into expanding the conservation estate through stewardship, and educating members on meaningful ways for civil society to strengthen South Africa's plant conservation efforts. We aim to use contemporary conservation information to provide our branches with information to guide their efforts on the ground and build relationships with a range of partners in order to push the envelope on behalf of plant conservation both at a species and landscape level. In this presentation, we will discuss operationalising elements of the National Plant Conservation Strategy as well as working towards building and supporting the networks needed to roll out the next phase of the strategy.

The importance of specialist surveys in environmental impact assessments for plant conservation
02:42PM - 02:54PM
Presented by :
Warren McCleland, ECOREX Consulting Ecologists

Environmental impact assessments (EIAs) are an important part of the process for the authorisation of developments in Africa. Multi-disciplinary specialist teams are usually employed to conducted the EIAs. Baseline data are interpreted in the context of the proposed development and an assessment of the risks to biodiversity is conducted. Risks that have been identified are managed through the implementation of a mitigation hierarchy (avoidance, minimisation, restoration, offset). Areas that are targeted for developments are often areas with a concentration of threatened species, such as the copper-rich grasslands of the southern Democratic Republic of Congo and gas fields of Cabo Delgado Province in northern Mozambique. It is important that plant surveys conducted in these areas are undertaken by experienced specialists who understand the integration of baseline findings into sensible impact assessments with realistic mitigation measures. The presentation will indicate how specialist botanical surveys conducted by suitably experienced personnel have played a role in plant conservation. Case studies from four African countries will be presented, showing how specialist surveys have resulted in the discovery of undescribed plant species, contributed to a better understanding of poorly known threatened species, produced realistic management plans for threatened species that are ensuring the long-term survival of these species, and have resulted in highly sensitive habitats being saved from destruction. Although there are many examples of how developments have resulted in the loss of species diversity and have increased the risks posed to threatened species, we contend that the EIA process has the potential to minimise impacts on threatened species if specialist surveys are conducted responsibly by suitably experienced personnel. The surveys also have the potential to increase our understanding of poorly known species and even uncover previously undescribed species, particularly in areas that have not been thoroughly studied historically.

Millennium Seed Bank Partnership’s response to the plight of succulents in the Succulent Karoo Biome, South Africa
02:55PM - 03:07PM
Presented by :
Victoria Wilman, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Co-authors :
Jo Osborne, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Jacqui James, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)

South Africa is renowned for its unparalleled richness of floristic diversity. It hosts three of the world's biodiversity hotspots, including the Succulent Karoo, home to 6,256 known plant species and the world's richest succulent flora (4,337 species). The Succulent Karoo Biome spans an area of approximately 111,000 km2 between southern Namibia and the uplands of the Western Cape, and this predominantly winter rainfall, semi-desert region, has an extraordinary level of plant endemism with 40% of its species found nowhere else on earth. In the past two years, an unprecedented upsurge in wild plant poaching has escalated the need for urgent conservation actions in these regions. Many of the targeted species are already threatened and in some cases are critical habitat species, meaning that they only occur in an area less than 10 km2. Rare populations such as these are easily driven to extinction and several may already be extinct as a direct result of recent poaching. One of the best ways to make sure that these plants are not lost forever is to safeguard viable plants and seeds through ex-situ conservation to ensure the possibility of later recovery. We discuss how the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership (MSBP) is stepping up through its new Succulent Karoo Extension Programme to secure the seeds of these species as ex-situ seed bank collections stored both in South Africa and at the Millenium Seed Bank in the United Kingdom. The new project aims to safeguard 45 single-population Conophytum species as a priority and to secure the genetic diversity of a further 50–100 important species from the habitat through multi-provenance collections. Supported by a new MSBP Botanical Restoration Unit, species recovery projects will be initiated, living plant gene banks established, and seed research undertaken to ensure that the stored seeds are viable and that protocols are in place to germinate them should it be necessary.

Identifying Mozambique’s critical sites for plant diversity and conservation through the Tropical Important Plant Areas programme
03:07PM - 03:19PM
Presented by :
Iain Darbyshire, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Co-authors :
Sophie Richards, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Hermenegildo Matimele, Instituto De Investigacão Agrária De Moçambique (IIAM) / Durrell Institute Of Conservation And Ecology, University Of Kent
Clayton Langa, Instituto De Investigacão Agrária De Moçambique (IIAM)
Castigo Datizua, Instituto De Investigacão Agrária De Moçambique (IIAM)
Jo Osborne, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Saba Rokni, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Alice Massingue, Eduardo Mondlane University, Maputo
Tereza Alves, Instituto De Investigacão Agrária De Moçambique (IIAM)
Camila De Sousa, Instituto De Investigacão Agrária De Moçambique (IIAM)

Mozambique supports a rich and varied plant diversity, with over 6,000 native and naturalised species documented to date and with new species being described regularly as the flora continues to be explored. However, as across much of tropical Africa, rising demand for land and natural resources is increasing pressure on natural habitats and leading to a high risk of biodiversity loss. Efforts to halt species declines are hampered by a lack of suitable data for identifying critical sites for plant diversity. The Tropical Important Plant Areas (TIPAs) programme aims to address this knowledge gap and so enable countries to meet target 5 of the Convention on Biological Diversity Global Strategy for Plant Conservation: at least 75% of the most important areas for plant diversity are conserved and effectively managed. TIPAs are identified based on the presence of threatened species, threatened habitats and high botanical richness. The resultant TIPA network highlights sites of high biodiversity importance which can inform conservation planning and sustainable management of natural resources. The TIPA programme is being implemented in Mozambique through (i) mobilising data and expert knowledge on the country's 269 endemic and 386 near-endemic plants; (ii) developing a national IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants, with over 375 species Red Listed since 2016; and (iii) targeted field surveys of botanically rich and under-explored sites across the country. Capacity building is an important element of the programme, which has supported doctoral research on plant conservation prioritisation and training in fieldwork, herbarium research, and Red List and TIPA methodologies for Mozambican botanists. Here we present the distributions of Mozambique's endemic and near-endemic plant taxa, over 50% of which are threatened with extinction, and the resultant network of 56 TIPAs identified across the country. The majority of these sites are not currently protected, hence the TIPA network should form a central focus for future plant conservation efforts under the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.

Traditional healers’ insights for the development of biodiversity management plans for six threatened medicinal plant species, Mpumalanga, South Africa
03:20PM - 03:32PM
Presented by :
Nolwazi Mbongwa, University Of The Witwatersrand/SANBI
Co-authors :
Thabo Makhubedu, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Cathy Dzerefos, Tshwane University Of Technology
Domitilla Raimondo, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)

The use and trade of medicinal plants are embedded in African culture. Despite access to western medicine, about 72% of South Africans still use medicinal plants. The extent of use is, unfortunately, threatening the survival of many plant species in the wild. In response to the problem, the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) has piloted developing a Biodiversity Management Plan for six threatened medicinal plant species in the Ehlanzeni District, Mpumalanga. Priority medicinal plant species were identified based on those species in demand, their conservation status, population trends, distribution patterns, ease of propagation, and presence in protected areas. The six medicinal plants chosen were Warburgia salutaris (pepper-bark tree; Endangered)Siphonochilus aethiopicus (wild ginger; Critically Endangered)Bowiea volubilis (climbing green lily; Vulnerable), Alepidea cordifolia (Endangered), Haworthiopsis limifolia (Vulnerable), and Dioscorea sylvatica (forest elephants foot; Vulnerable). Engagements between conservation practitioners, traditional healers, and muthi gatherers are vital to determine the management interventions required to conserve the existing medicinal plant species and ensure their availability for future use.  A total of 137 traditional healers and three muthi gatherers in villages across the Bushbuckridge, Mbombela, Nkomazi, and Thaba Chweu Local Municipalities of the Mpumalanga Province, South Africa were interviewed. Some of the key messages that have emerged include that: 90% of the healers travel long distances to collect medicinal plants; the majority of healers buy medicinal material from markets and pension pay points; and 80% of healers from three of the four municipalities cultivated W. salutaris, S. aethiopicus, A. cordifolia, H. limifolia, and five other medicinal plants that were not selected for the BMP. Traditional healers have identified cultivation as the key conservation intervention needed to conserve species and would contribute to this effort by growing their own plants, should small seedlings be provided. Participants also mentioned that protected areas should cultivate those species that will be difficult for communities to cultivate because of habitat differences, water, and land availability. Co-development of BMPs is essential in order to balance conservation with sustainable rural livelihoods and retain indigenous knowledge, especially for species that are beneficial to humanity.

Non-detriment findings for six South African Euphorbia species in trade
03:32PM - 03:44PM
Presented by :
Tasneem Variawa, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)

Many of South Africa's plant species are highly prized by plant collectors and enthusiasts around the world. Succulent euphorbias are particularly popular as ornamental subjects and South Africa remains one of the largest global suppliers of live plants for the specialist horticultural markets. National regulations aligned with global conservation commitments require that no species of wild flora be endangered by international trade. Trade in all succulent euphorbias is thus regulated under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and countries exporting these species are required to demonstrate that the levels of export are not detrimental to the survival of the species in the wild. This is achieved through the compilation of a science-based risk assessment, a non-detriment finding (NDF), which draws on aspects of the species biology, national status, and management to assess the sustainability of ongoing trade. This presentation provides an overview of NDFs undertaken for six endemic Euphorbia species. The outcomes demonstrate that each of the species remains vulnerable to unsustainable harvesting and that demand for at least three of the species has been met largely by seeds and plants collected from the wild. The assessments furthermore indicate that the management and protection afforded to these species are severely lacking, a common problem in the matter of plant conservation. Ongoing trade in four of the species is deemed to be detrimental at present and recommendations for future trade considerations will be presented.

Question and Answer Session with Moderated Discussion: Plant Conservation Strategies in Southern Africa
03:44PM - 04:00PM
Presented by :
Suvarna Parbhoo-Mohan, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Co-authors :
Domitilla Raimondo, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Hlengiwe Mtshali, SANBI National Botanical Gardens
Rupert Koopman, Botanical Society Of South Africa
Warren McCleland, ECOREX Consulting Ecologists
Victoria Wilman, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Iain Darbyshire, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Nolwazi Mbongwa, University Of The Witwatersrand/SANBI
Tasneem Variawa, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
02:00PM - 04:00PM
Virtual Online Symposium - Parallel Session
Session Fourteen: Genetic Management Guidelines for African Animals
Format : Parallel Session | Special Session | Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Moderators
Mike Bruford, Cardiff University / University Of Pretoria
Isa-Rita Russo, Cardiff University

A recent project has sought to synthesise all genetic research and understanding into easy-to-understand management guidelines for a suite of southern African large mammals. The specific recommendations for these species will be discussed, a generalised framework for the management of genetic diversity provided, and implications for the management of game translocations in southern Africa evaluated.

The wildlife industry in Africa has grown rapidly over the past decades and contributes significantly to various industries including hunting, meat production and ecotourism. As a result of the growth of this industry, a significant number of animals are translocated to areas where they had previously been extirpated but also to areas where they never occurred before. Translocations that are not guided by an understanding of genetic structure and processes may threaten the genetic integrity of species and the long-term resilience of both species and ecosystems.

Signatories to the Convention on Biological Diversity are obligated to use wildlife resources sustainably and conserve biodiversity. Genetic diversity, however, is often underrepresented in national and international policy dealing with the conservation and management of ecosystems and species. The last two years have seen an active and, at times, challenging debate on the inclusion of genetics in the Convention on Biological Diversity Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework, hopefully leading to the adoption of a meaningful framework for monitoring, measuring and reporting on genetic diversity. There is a need and numerous opportunities for improved understanding and monitoring of genetic diversity in Africa, but this would require a more coordinated and collaborative system, including better databasing and access to samples, an evaluation of available data and the suitability of different marker types, and integration with ongoing monitoring efforts.

However, the management of genetic diversity happens at a local level based on decisions by officials, conservationists and landowners who may not be capacitated to consider the implications on genetic diversity, due to knowledge gaps, a disconnect between research and decision-makers, and a failure to integrate genetics into biodiversity management guidelines.

Here we present an overview of recent attempts to synthesise the genetic science, and an understanding of natural distributions and evolutionary and ecological processes, into a series of concise management guidelines for translocation decision making in southern Africa. These guidelines will be applicable to conservation practitioners, the wildlife industry, and governments, and may serve as a model for broader pan-African guidelines. In the discussion, we will seek ideas on how to convert the guidelines into products that are most useful for decision-makers involved in policy and permitting processes.

Genetics in the Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework - global initiatives and progress

Prof. Mike BrufordIUCN Species Survival Commission - Conservation Genetics Specialist Group, Cardiff University & University of Pretoria 
Guidelines are needed to manage genetic diversity effectively

Dr. Isa-Rita RussoCardiff University
Genetic management guidelines to guide translocations of southern African vertebrates: Part I

Dr. Deon de JagerUniversity of Pretoria
Genetic management guidelines to guide translocations of southern African vertebrates: Part II

Dr. Anri van WykUniversity of Pretoria
Evaluation of a conceptual framework for genetic management of wildlife

Prof. Paulette BloomerUniversity of Pretoria


NOTE: The presentation by Sophie von der Heyden (Challenges and opportunities for inclusion of genetic diversity into biodiversity conservation in South Africa) has been withdrawn. Isa-Rita Russo's (Guidelines are needed to manage genetic diversity effectively) has been added.

Direct Zoom link (only use if the Join Live button above fails) - https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84373939110

Session Fourteen Introduction
02:00PM - 02:05PM
Presented by :
Mike Bruford, Cardiff University / University Of Pretoria
Isa-Rita Russo, Cardiff University
Genetics in the Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework - global initiatives and progress
02:05PM - 02:17PM
Presented by :
Mike Bruford, Cardiff University / University Of Pretoria

The last two years have seen an active and, at times, challenging debate on the inclusion of genetics in the Convention on Biological Diversity Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework, specifically around its inclusion in goals and targets for signatory countries. However, by concerted global actions, the signs are now looking positive that we will, at last, have a meaningful framework within which member states can approach monitoring, measuring, and reporting on genetic diversity progress. I will discuss these initiatives, and the problems we have encountered through the IUCN Conservation Genetics Specialist Group. I will highlight the recent formation of the Coalition for Conservation Genetics that brings together, for the first time, the IUCN Species Survival Commission Conservation Genetics Specialist Group, the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON), the Society for Conservation Biology, and the G-Bike COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) Action (Genomic BIodiversity Knowledge for Resilient Ecosystems) to form a global alliance for the advocacy of genetic diversity at a policy level and how you can get involved.

Guidelines are needed to manage genetic diversity effectively
02:17PM - 02:30PM
Presented by :
Isa-Rita Russo, Cardiff University

Wildlife is translocated extensively in Africa for the restocking of protected areas and commercial purposes. Between 130,000 and 170,000 animals are estimated to be translocated annually in South Africa alone. Translocations that do not take natural genetic structure and genetic processes into account can result in hybridisation between closely related species, subspecies or differentiated populations. This can result in the breakdown of natural evolutionary processes and may result in maladapted hybrid individuals or populations with associated biodiversity implications. Signatories to the Convention on Biological Diversity are obligated to use wildlife resources sustainably and to conserve biodiversity. Genetic diversity is a fundamental part of biodiversity, and yet this aspect of biodiversity is often underrepresented or not adequately considered in policies and decision-making. This presentation gives an overview of a project that aims to collect, collate and interpret the current knowledge of the genetic composition of southern African vertebrates into a set of easy-to-understand and accessible guidelines to manage genetic diversity during translocations, for use by conservation practitioners and the wildlife industry. This presentation will give will also address the need for such guidelines, the process followed to start developing such guidelines, and serve as an introduction to the presentations that follow.

Question and Answer Session with Moderated Discussion Part I: Genetic Management Guidelines for African Animals
02:30PM - 02:45PM
Presented by :
Mike Bruford, Cardiff University / University Of Pretoria
Isa-Rita Russo, Cardiff University
Genetic management guidelines to guide translocations of southern African vertebrates - part I
02:45PM - 02:57PM
Presented by :
Deon De Jager, University Of Pretoria
Co-authors :
Isa-Rita Russo, Cardiff University
Anri Van Wyk, University Of Pretoria
Paulette Bloomer, University Of Pretoria
Arrie Klopper, University Of Pretoria
Frederik Van Heerden, University Of Pretoria
Kenneth Uiseb, Ministry Of Environment And Tourism
Coral Birss, Executive Director: Biodiversity Capabilities, CapeNature
Ian Rushworth, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

In southern Africa, translocations of large vertebrates for conservation and economic reasons are common but is often carried out in the absence of genetic information. Extensive translocations in the absence of genetic information may threaten the genetic integrity of species and biodiversity through hybridisation between closely related species, subspecies, or differentiated populations. However, translocations are often beneficial in wildlife conservation, for example, for the genetic rescue of inbred populations, or to reestablish extirpated populations. In such cases, it is important that the translocated individuals are sourced from a population that is evolutionarily the closest to the inbred or extirpated population, to preserve the natural pattern of genetic structure, generated by evolutionary processes over millennia. Here, we present genetic management guidelines developed for several large African vertebrates to facilitate decision-making around translocations from an evolutionary perspective. We give examples of species with similar genetic patterns across Africa, highlight extirpated populations that were re-established from an inappropriate source, and illustrate how genetic management guidelines can be used to select appropriate source populations for the re-establishment of populations or genetic rescue.

Genetic management guidelines to guide translocations of southern African vertebrates - part II
02:57PM - 03:08PM
Presented by :
Anri Van Wyk, University Of Pretoria
Co-authors :
Paulette Bloomer, University Of Pretoria
Isa-Rita Russo, Cardiff University
Deon De Jager, University Of Pretoria
Arrie Klopper, University Of Pretoria
Frederik Van Heerden, University Of Pretoria
Kenneth Uiseb, Ministry Of Environment And Tourism
Coral Birss, Executive Director: Biodiversity Capabilities, CapeNature
Ian Rushworth, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

In southern Africa, translocations of large vertebrates for conservation and economic reasons are common but are often carried out in the absence of genetic information. Extensive translocations in the absence of genetic information may threaten the genetic integrity of species and biodiversity through hybridisation between closely related species, subspecies, or differentiated populations. Worldwide, managing anthropogenic hybridisation and the fate of hybrid animals is a contentious issue. Currently, there is no single solution or policy that is applicable to all circumstances with most countries choosing to apply a case-by-case approach. Here, we will present genetic management guidelines developed for several African vertebrates to facilitate decision-making around translocations to minimise the risk of hybridisation and to maintain the genetic integrity of species that have the potential to hybridise. In order to have viable populations for the future, conservation management strategies must be directed to preserve the genetic integrity, as well as genetic diversity in local populations.

Evaluation of a conceptual framework for genetic management of wildlife
03:08PM - 03:20PM
Presented by :
Paulette Bloomer, University Of Pretoria
Co-authors :
Isa-Rita Russo, Cardiff University
Deon De Jager, University Of Pretoria
Anri Van Wyk, University Of Pretoria
Arrie Klopper, University Of Pretoria
Frederik Van Heerden, University Of Pretoria
Kenneth Uiseb, Ministry Of Environment And Tourism
Coral Birss, Executive Director: Biodiversity Capabilities, CapeNature
Ian Rushworth, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

Genetic diversity, and its distribution within species, is fundamental to evolutionary processes and is an important factor in ecosystem stability. However, this aspect of biodiversity is often underrepresented in national and international policy dealing with the conservation and management of ecosystems and species. In 2016 we presented a conceptual framework for using genetic diversity metrics across different time scales as a proxy for evolutionary and ecological processes shaping differentiation within and between populations of bovid species. At the time we used available empirical data for suni antelope, Cape buffalo and eland to test the framework. Although some aspects are pertinent across all species it was possible to identify the key factors that should be considered in immediate decision-making for each of the species. In addition, important research gaps could be identified. Currently, through the evaluation of available data for 13 mammalian species, we are able to refine this conceptual framework. While the latter is important, what is of greater importance is the identification of the key questions that should be addressed and translating these into practical implementation steps for decision-makers in relation to the movement and management of species for both conservation and commercial purposes.

Question and Answer Session with Moderated Discussion Part II: Genetic Management Guidelines for African Animals
03:20PM - 04:00PM
Presented by :
Mike Bruford, Cardiff University / University Of Pretoria
Isa-Rita Russo, Cardiff University
Co-authors :
Deon De Jager, University Of Pretoria
Anri Van Wyk, University Of Pretoria
Paulette Bloomer, University Of Pretoria
02:00PM - 04:00PM
Virtual Online Symposium - Parallel Session
Session Fifteen: Conservation Café II - Be Part of the Solution, Not the Pollution
Format : Parallel Session | Moderated Discussion | Workshop
Moderators
Masha Ramsamooch, WildTrust - WildOceans
Anele Khumalo, WildTrust - WildOceans
Naledi Zama, University Of KwaZulu-Natal


Conservation Cafés give all delegates an opportunity to join unstructured youth-led discussions on the topics of their choice, encouraging collaborative input and healthy debate in a non-conventional environment. The aim of the Conservation Café is to encourage constructive conversation, advance collaboration and provide a space to challenge conventional knowledge sharing at The Conservation Symposium. Each day, youth delegates (under the age of 40) will have the chance to suggest a topic of conversation on the Conservation Café boards. Youth delegates are encouraged to type in their topic to claim a spot on the agenda. The youth facilitating these sessions will select three topics from these lists to discuss each day, so be creative! Over the course of the symposium, nine discussion sessions will take place in three separate sessions, and ALL delegates are invited to join the Conversation Café.

Make sure to add your topic and discussion ideas (and comment on the ones already there) on the virtual whiteboard for today's Conservation Cafe.

Direct Zoom link (only use if the Join Live button above fails) - https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85840258858

Thursday, 04 Nov 2021
09:00AM - 11:15AM
Virtual Online Symposium - Plenary Session
Session Sixteen: Alien and Invasive Species
Format : Plenary Session | General Session | Keynote Presentations | Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion


Invasive and alien species have negative effects on biodiversity and ecosystem function, causing declines or even extinction of native species and loss of ecosystem services. Managing emerging invasive plant species often requires rapid interventions and the use of herbicides, and yet the administrative process to get herbicides tested and registered are cumbersome. In addition, there is often industry or public resistance to the implementation of control efforts which may delay efforts at a critical stage, necessitating a review of communication and engagement approaches and strategies. In the second part of the session, there will be a focus on innovative research and an emerging understanding of the invasion biology of the extralimital guttural toad.

Part A: Techniques, Approaches and Assessments
New techniques and technologies for invasive alien species control – gathering speed and momentum

Dr. Andrew TurnerCapeNature
Communication and conflict in invasive alien species management projects

Dr. Sarah DaviesIndependent
Assessing the role of cemeteries in the spread of invasive alien plants in South Africa

Nkhangweleni SikhauliSouth African National Biodiversity Institute
Invasive alien plants are used as alternative medicinal sources to indigenous species, Limpopo Province, South Africa

Lesibana MaemaSouth African National Biodiversity Institute
The New Zealand Christmas tree (Metrosideros excelsa): Its ecology, distribution and invasion potential in South Africa

Nicole MalanSouth African National Biodiversity Institute & Nelson Mandela University
A new invader? An eastern dwarf chameleon (Bradypodion ventrale) example

Dr. Andrew TurnerCapeNature
Part B: Invasion Biology – the Guttural Toad (Sclerophrys gutturalis)
The humble guttural toad (Sclerophrys gutturalis): Lessons of plasticity and adaptation following invasion

Prof. John MeaseyStellenbosch University
Introduction of guttural toads (Sclerophrys gutturalis) produces marked shifts in the endemic western leopard toad (Sclerophrys pantherina) gut microbiome

Carla WagenerUniversity of Oxford
Does urban adaptation enhance invasiveness? A case study of tadpoles of a successful invasive amphibian

Max MühlenhauptFreie Universität Berlin & Stellenbosch University
Conqueror toads: Comparing behaviour, performance and competitive potential in a successful invader and its native congeners

Dr. Andrea MelottoStellenbosch University
An army marches on its stomach: Diet composition and prey preference of guttural toad (Sclerophrys gutturalis) populations along a native-invasive and natural-urban gradient

Samuel PetaStellenbosch University


NOTE: The presentation by Thulisile Jaca (Assessment of invasive alien plants in urban municipal reserves, Gauteng Province, South Africa) has been withdrawn. Andrew Turner's (A new invader? An eastern dwarf chameleon (Bradypodion ventrale) example) has been added.

Direct Zoom link (only use if the Join Live button above fails) - https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84610414416

Session Sixteen Introduction
09:00AM - 09:05AM
Presented by :
Sebataolo Rahlao, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
New techniques and technologies for invasive alien species control – gathering speed and momentum
09:05AM - 09:17AM
Presented by :
Andrew Turner, CapeNature

Achieving conservation objectives frequently requires managing invasive alien species (across all kingdoms). Many existing invasive alien species management techniques do not operate at the speed and/or spatial scale required to achieve sustainable conservation success. There are several promising new technologies and techniques for managing invasive alien species. These include aerial basal bark application of herbicide, ballistic herbicide application, aerial bait drops, self-resetting kill traps, new biocontrol agents, and gene drives. These methods may provide opportunities for time frames of management implementation commensurate with the speed of spread and intensification of invasive alien species. However, few of these are implemented in practice and, even where they are being trialled, there are significant constraints and obstacles to effective implementation. These impediments range from legislation not suited to conservation purposes, slow bureaucratic procedures, little to no research and development budgets, hesitancy in using novel methods, and potentially hazardous substances. We need a platform to raise and discuss the constraints and obstacles to adopting these new methods on the ground and to find solutions that result in environmentally sound invasive alien species control operations. We also need the systems and support to efficiently trial new methods and bring them into operation as soon as they have proved their worth. We need both speed and momentum to catch up with the invasions.

Communication and conflict in invasive alien species management projects
09:17AM - 09:29AM
Presented by :
Sarah Davies, Independent

Traditionally, science policy-makers, communicators, and journalists tend to operate on the assumption that the public needs to know more about the projects we are working on, and once they understand our perspectives and the science behind them, they will support our efforts. This is known in science communication as the 'deficit' or knowledge transmission model, where information 'flows' in one direction: from the knowledge broker (scientist, manager, or conservation professional) to the audience, user group, or public. The deficit model may have worked in the past if societies were authoritarian, exceptionally science-literate, or in uncontroversial fields (e.g. particle physics), but it is also the reason why communication sometimes goes wrong or projects face opposition from the public that result in delays or stoppages. To use an example from invasive alien species management: which dedicated trout fisherman has been convinced of the need to list trout as Category 1 invaders due to the argument that trout are voracious predators causing extirpation of native fish and trophic cascades in our rivers? In this talk, I will cover four topics that provide practical guidance for invasive alien species communication: (1) techniques to identify and engage interested and affected groups in invasive alien species management projects, (2) international and South African experiences of project managers learning from audience perspectives to improve project implementation, (3) principles of good engagement including transparency, acknowledging value-based nature of people's views of invasive alien species, and communicating uncertainty, and (4) some tools for co-creation of solutions with interest groups.

Assessing the role of cemeteries in the spread of invasive alien plants in South Africa
09:30AM - 09:33AM
Presented by :
Nkhangweleni Sikhauli, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Co-authors :
Thulisile Jaca, South African National Biodiversity Institute

In South Africa, cemeteries cover a significant amount of green space and are a vital part of urban green infrastructure. Generally, cemeteries belong to the municipality and those that are privately owned are often still maintained by municipalities. Different human activities occur during and after burial proceedings in cemeteries and usually ornamental plants are used for grave decoration. The activities that occur may disturb the soil structure and some plants might grow vegetatively or through seeds and may spread to other parts of the cemetery into natural areas. Several studies in South Africa have focused on assessing and monitoring pathways of invasion, such as roads, rivers, and dumping sites. However, the spread of invasive alien plants in and via cemeteries and the impact on biodiversity and socio-economies have not been investigated. It is therefore imperative that research on flora in cemeteries be explored. The aim of this study was to assess the role of cemeteries in the spread of invasive alien plants in South Africa. Here we present preliminary results from surveys conducted in the Gauteng and North West Provinces. Field surveys were conducted in 18 cemeteries. Distribution data was gathered through GPS devices, and specimens were collected and identified at the National Herbarium. For each species, abundance, stage of plant development, habitat, and growth habit were recorded. We recorded a total of 101 species in 18 cemeteries. The dominant lifeforms were herbs (n = 18 species), followed by succulents (n = 8) and shrubs (n = 7). Cactaceae was the dominant family contributing a total of 18% of the species. Most species were in alien invasive plant categories 1b (compulsory removal), 2 (regulated by area), and 3 (regulated by activity) of NEM:BA (National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act 10 of 2004); only one unlisted species was recorded. We recommend that municipalities include management of alien invasive plants that occur in the cemeteries within their invasive alien plants' management plan.

Invasive alien plants are used as alternative medicinal sources to indigenous species, Limpopo Province, South Africa
09:33AM - 09:36AM
Presented by :
Lesibana Maema, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Co-authors :
Claude Moshobane, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)

Many alien plant species have been introduced to South Africa for various purposes such as forestry and traditional medicine, and some have become invasive (IAPs). In recent years there have been increasing studies investigating the uses of alien plants in traditional medicine in South Africa. While there is a substantial body of literature on the uses of plants, the knowledge and motivation for using alien plants in traditional medicine are not well studied. An ethnobotanical survey was conducted to investigate the motives for using alien plants in herbal medicine in the northern areas of South Africa. Thirty traditional health practitioners (THPs) were interviewed. The majority (56%) of THPs used IAPs as alternatives to the indigenous plant species. The three main reasons reported for using IAPs were: (1) IAPs are accessed easily from home gardens and roadsides as opposed to the indigenous ones (47% of respondents), (2) both the indigenous and IAPs treat the same ailments (41% of respondents), and (3) IAPs are used so as to preserve indigenous species (12% of respondents). This study documented that THPs in the Waterberg District are using IAPs as an alternative medicinal source and that traditional use is dynamic and not fixed. The alternative use of IAPs under careful consideration could allow the recovery of endangered indigenous plants. The use of roots, seeds and stems in herbal medicine could be used as a management strategy to reduce dispersal capacity and control the spread of IAPs.

The New Zealand Christmas tree (Metrosideros excelsa): Its ecology, distribution and invasion potential in South Africa
09:37AM - 09:40AM
Presented by :
Nicole Malan, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) / Nelson Mandela University

Invasive alien plants are one of the greatest threats to biodiversity, with woody plants the most widely distributed group of invasive organisms globally. South Africa has the second-highest number of invasive alien trees, of which Metrosideros excelsa is an emergent invader in the Overberg region, Western Cape. Metrosideros excelsa, the New Zealand Christmas tree, was introduced as an ornamental plant and has subsequently invaded coastal fynbos on peat soils, thereby threatening rare flora and associated fauna. It flourishes with disturbance, which is common in its invaded peri-urban landscape. Fynbos wildfires increase these cumulative impacts. Additionally, the species exerts high propagule pressure through self-pollination and releasing large numbers of wind-dispersed seeds. A comprehensive risk assessment is required for this species. Therefore this study aims to assess the status of, and invasion risk posed by M. excelsa in South Africa, and explore the species ecology to inform appropriate management responses by 1) assessing the species current distribution and abundance, and conducting a risk assessment; 2) assessing post-fire regeneration success in terms of post-fire survival and resprouting vigour of established individuals, and recruitment from seed; 3) quantifying propagule pressure in terms of viable canopy-produced and soil-stored seed banks in burnt and unburnt stands; and possibly 4) determining the most effective foliar applied herbicide for treating post-fire resprouting individuals. The proposed study outcomes will inform appropriate legislative listing and relevant management approaches for the species in the interest of biodiversity conservation.

A new invader? An eastern dwarf chameleon (Bradypodion ventrale) example
09:40AM - 09:52AM
Presented by :
Andrew Turner, CapeNature
Co-authors :
Krystal Tolley, SANBI
Sarah Davies, Independent

Rapid accumulation of occupancy records of the alien Eastern Cape dwarf chameleon (Bradypodion ventrale) in the historical range of the Cape dwarf chameleon (B. pumilum) and the western dwarf chameleon (B. occidentale) in the Cape Town metropole over the past four years indicates that this species may be establishing within the city boundary. This example highlights the challenges of identifying novel alien species and developing a timely management response. This is critical as early actions have been shown to result in more cost-effective outcomes. Therefore, a rapid assessment is required to devise a rapid and effective response.

Question and Answer Session with Moderated Discussion: Part A: Techniques, Approaches and Assessments
09:52AM - 10:10AM
Presented by :
Sebataolo Rahlao, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Co-authors :
Andrew Turner, CapeNature
Sarah Davies, Independent
Nkhangweleni Sikhauli, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Lesibana Maema, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Nicole Malan, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) / Nelson Mandela University
The humble guttural toad (Sclerophrys gutturalis): Lessons of plasticity and adaptation following invasion
10:10AM - 10:22AM
Presented by :
John Measey, Stellenbosch University

Invasive species represent the successful outcome of natural experiments of relocation of populations into novel settings away from their evolved areas of distribution. As such, they provide insights into the potential that some species have to exhibit plastic and adaptive responses to environmental challenges. Here, I present the outcome of multiple studies on the guttural toad, Sclerophrys gutturalis, that demonstrate the adaptive nature of its morphology, physiology, behaviour, and immunology. All studies feature comparisons of native populations from Durban, South Africa, and invasions in Cape Town (~20 years ago) and/or Mauritius and Reunion (~100 years ago). Remarkably, studies show hitherto unappreciated levels of plasticity and adaptivity in what appears to be an otherwise unremarkable common or garden species. Given the opportunities afforded to the guttural toad, I ask how many other native fauna could become so invasive in South Africa and beyond?

Introduction of guttural toads (Sclerophrys gutturalis) produces marked shifts in the endemic western leopard toad (Sclerophrys pantherina) gut microbiome
10:22AM - 10:34AM
Presented by :
Carla Wagener, University Of Oxford
Co-authors :
John Measey, Stellenbosch University

Invasive species and their co-introduced parasites are of great concern to the environments they colonize and its native inhabitants, but do the introduction of invasive species impact the microbiome of native species? Despite recent literature on laboratory animals highlighting the importance of gut microbial symbionts (collectively known as the gut microbiome) to beneficial functions or traits, such as enhanced nutrition and physiological plasticity, few efforts have been made to understand how environmental change, such as the introduction of invasive species, alters the gut microbiome in native species.  Our study addresses this knowledge gap by comparing the faecal microbial composition, determined through 16S amplicon sequencing, of invasive Guttural Toads (Sclerophrys gutturalis, GT) and endemic Western Leopard Toads (S. pantherina, WLT) in sites invaded and uninvaded by GT. The introduction of GT produces marked shifts in both the beta diversity and differential abundance of gut microbes in native WLT. Additionally, WLT in sites invaded by GT exhibit higher heterogeneity across WLT individuals compared to those present in uninvaded sites, possibly pointing towards homeostatic disruption of the WLT population gut microbiome. Gut microbiomes of WLTs in invaded sites are enriched with a variety of new species from the Lachnospiraceae, Bacteroidaceae and Akkermansiaceae bacterial families, known for metabolizing dietary components more efficiently. This can indicate a dietary shift or even diet restriction of WLT due to direct competition with GT. Known opportunistic pathogens, specifically species from the genus Odoribacter, Parabacteroides and Aeromonas, significantly increase abundance in WLT gut microbiomes present in GT invaded areas. We argue that these substantial shifts disrupting microbial homeostasis in the native WLT gut microbiomes can have potential knock-on effects on host health and physiology. While it is well known that invasive plant and insect microbiomes have severe impacts on native biodiversity; our study is the first to demonstrate that we should not only consider the impact of vertebrate hosts released in the wild, but also the spread of their co-introduced microbial communities. To facilitate and improve conservation efforts we need to further our understanding of host-microbiome associations in the face of environmental change.

Does urban adaptation enhance invasiveness? A case study of tadpoles of a successful invasive amphibian
10:35AM - 10:47AM
Presented by :
Max Mühlenhaupt, FU Berlin And CIB Stellenbosch
Co-authors :
James Baxter-Gilbert, Stellenbosch University
Julia Riley, Dalhousie University
Buyisile Makhubo, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
John Measey, Stellenbosch University

Cities are focal points of the introduction of invasive species. The "Anthropogenically Induced Adaptation to Invade" (AIAI) hypothesis posits that urban evolution can facilitate the success of invasive species in recipient urban habitats. This research seeks to test this hypothesis in a successful amphibian urban coloniser and invader, the guttural toad (Sclerophrys gutturalis). We compared developmental, morphological, and performance traits of native-rural, native-urban, and invasive-urban tadpoles reared in a common garden experiment to test for innate trait differences. The invasive-urban tadpoles showed significantly slower developmental rates (e.g. the proportion of tadpoles reaching a developmental landmark at age 40 days) than native-urban tadpoles. Yet, tadpoles did not differ in growth rate or any morphological or performance traits we examined. These findings suggest that urban evolution in tadpole traits likely does not play an important role in facilitating the invasion success of guttural toads into other urban habitats. We suggest that evolutionary changes in tadpole traits after colonisation (e.g. developmental rate), together with the potential for decoupling of other traits between life-stages, and phenotypic plasticity might explain how this species is so successful in colonising extra-limital urban habitats.

Conqueror toads: Comparing behaviour, performance and competitive potential in a successful invader and its native congeners
10:47AM - 10:50AM
Presented by :
Andrea Melotto, Stellenbosch University
Co-authors :
Carla Wagener, Department Of Zoology
James Baxter-Gilbert, Mount Allison University
Julia Riley, Dalhousie University
John Measey, Stellenbosch University

Human activities are driving the global mixing of biota, with species being increasingly introduced into novel ecosystems and becoming exposed to unprecedented adaptive challenges. In the majority of cases, after introduction, species fail to survive and to establish stable populations in the novel environment, but those that succeed may pose severe threats to native biodiversity. Identifying key traits characterising successful invaders and understanding mechanisms allowing species to colonise novel habitats represents a crucial conservation task. Traits such as boldness, elevated dispersal ability, and effective anti-predator response can be favoured and positively selected for when invading a new environment. The present study addresses this issue by comparing multiple behavioural (anti-predator and boldness) and performance traits (climbing ability and endurance) of three congeneric toad species present in the Western Cape, South Africa: the guttural toad (Sclerophrys gutturalis, GT), raucous toad (S. capensis, RT), and western leopard toad (S. pantherina, WLT). The GT is invasive in the Cape Town area (for ~20 years), while the RT is present in most of the Western Cape, but has failed to establish in the Cape Peninsula, where the westernmost populations of the WLT occur. GTs showed a greater capacity to overcome artificial barriers than native WLTs (p = 0.012), and displayed increased boldness, exiting refuges earlier and faster than both native species (both p < 0.001). Moreover, when disturbed, both GTs and RTs were more prone to flee than WLTs, which showed a strong tendency to stand and face threats, displaying their aposematic dorsal patterning (p < 0.001). Variation in adaptive traits among these toad species may contribute to the success of GTs as invaders, and our findings provide key insights for delineating a profile for invasive toad species.

An army marches on its stomach: Diet composition and prey preference of guttural toad (Sclerophrys gutturalis) populations along a native-invasive and natural-urban gradient
10:50AM - 10:53AM
Presented by :
Samuel Peta, DST-NRF Centre Of Excellence For Invasion Biology
Co-authors :
James Baxter-Gilbert, Stellenbosch University
John Measey, Stellenbosch University

Understanding factors driving the range expansion and invasion success of alien species, including those along natural-urban gradients, relies on niche-based invasion hypotheses and their applications. Here, we examine trophic niche breadth to test for potential diet shifts, flexibility and preferences of guttural toads, Sclerophrys gutturalis, from native-natural (rural Durban), native-urban (city Durban), invasive-urban (Cape Town), and invasive-natural populations (Mauritius). We predict that invasive populations will exhibit broader trophic niche breadth compared to native populations and that the diet composition of urban populations will contain more invasive prey. Prey items were identified, assigned to a feeding functional group, and classified as native or invasive. We compared diets across populations using an index of relative importance to quantify diet composition, Pielou's evenness, as a measure of trophic niche breadth, and an electivity index to determine prey preference. We found that omnivorous, phytophagous and scavenger feeding groups are the most common prey. Our findings align with our predictions, with Mauritius invasive populations having broader niche breadth compared to other populations and natural populations having a broader niche breadth compared to urban ones. Our electivity index found that insects are preferred in most cases, except in Mauritius (amphipods and gastropods). Contrary to our predictions, invasive prey items are consumed at low rates, including within urban populations. Our findings indicate that this toad is a generalist predator, however at the population level, expanding and contracting trophic niche breadths and noticeable dietary shifts between well-established populations likely reflect the toads' ability to readily adapt to local ecosystems. This dietary adaptation outside native ranges is likely to drive the invasion success of this toad and warrant management resolution to mitigate the impact on native species; in particular in Cape Town, where the guttural toad invasion range overlaps with the endangered and endemic western leopard toad, Sclerophrys pantherina, raising issues of dietary competitionThe same applies in Mauritius where endemic gastropod species were found in the toad's diet.

Question and Answer Session with Moderated Discussion: Part B: Invasion Biology – the Guttural Toad (Sclerophrys gutturalis)
10:53AM - 11:15AM
Presented by :
Sebataolo Rahlao, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Co-authors :
John Measey, Stellenbosch University
Carla Wagener, University Of Oxford
Max Mühlenhaupt, FU Berlin And CIB Stellenbosch
Andrea Melotto, Stellenbosch University
Samuel Peta, DST-NRF Centre Of Excellence For Invasion Biology
11:30AM - 01:30PM
Virtual Online Symposium - Parallel Session
Session Seventeen: Management Effectiveness and Threats to Protected Areas
Format : Parallel Session | General Session | Keynote Presentations | Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Moderators
Yvette Ehlers Smith, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife


Protected areas are deemed bastions of biodiversity conservation for the benefit and enjoyment of current and future generations. While there is a persistent concern regarding biodiversity loss, there is insufficient focus on the loss of integrity of protected areas. Despite the legal provisions to safeguard protected areas, they are increasingly being threatened by incompatible activities on their boundaries or even by having legal protection removed or being opened up to unstainable resource use.

This session will explore aspects relating to the effective management of terrestrial protected areas, ranging from pervasive threats to the very existence of protected areas, managing the interface between protected areas and surrounding landscapes to reduce threats and maximise opportunities, and assessing how we manage biodiversity and meet multiple objectives within protected areas.

What makes an effective protected area? Social, cultural and ecological aspects

Nigel DudleyEquilibrium Research
To be or not to be a protected area - a perverse political threat (an opinion)

Dr. Andy BlackmoreEzemvelo KZN Wildlife
Sustainable and ethical use of protected areas: An evolutionary tale

Magda GoosenEzemvelo KZN Wildlife
Using what is off to (better) protect what is on

Alana Duffell-CanhamCapeNature
Managing uncertainty certainly: Re-visioning the adaptive management framework in a parastatal

Natalie HaywardCapeNature
High and dry: Does reservation bias to mountainous areas result in an ineffective protected areas network for conserving freshwater fish?

Dr. Martine JordaanCapeNature
How are African elephants affecting large trees in which vulture species nest?

Robin CookElephants Alive
A pluralist approach to reconcile multiple stakeholders' aspirations for an elephant reserve

Antoinette van der WaterUniversity of KwaZulu-Natal

Direct Zoom link (only use if the Join Live button above fails) - https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87396819927

Session Seventeen Introduction
11:30AM - 11:35AM
Presented by :
Yvette Ehlers Smith, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
What makes an effective protected area: Social, cultural and ecological aspects?
11:35AM - 12:03PM
Presented by :
Nigel Dudley, Equilibrium Research
Co-authors :
Sue Stolton, Equilibrium Research

As the area under conservation increases around the world, the need to ensure management effectiveness also becomes politically and socially more important. While tools for assessing management effectiveness have existed for over twenty years, they are still only partially deployed. Perhaps more importantly, our understanding of what "effectiveness" means continues to change, as do the types of governance and management included in "area-based conservation" or "protected and conserved areas". Effectiveness today often in practice includes many considerations in addition to whether or not wild plants and animals are being conserved. Other critical issues include whether the area increases or decreases the wellbeing of local communities, whether it supplies ecosystem services efficiently, and whether it is cost-effective and sustainable in the long term. Protected area managers, often trained in fairly narrow aspects of ecology, are expected to understand, measure and manage for a wide and expanding range of other issues that they often struggle to understand. Carbon sequestration, for example, was hardly talked about a decade ago but is now considered of primary importance in many places. The presentation explores what is meant by effectiveness in this context, providing a provisional typology, and examines some of the approaches used for measuring this in terms of target species, human wellbeing, management and governance quality, ecosystem services, and economic benefits. Quick and simple assessment systems are contrasted with more detailed, but also more costly approaches, and the trade-offs involved in choosing methods are discussed. Finally, remaining gaps in our understanding of how to measure and manage for particular aspects of protected area effectiveness are highlighted, and associated future research needs are identified.

To be or not to be a protected area - a perverse political threat (an opinion)
12:03PM - 12:14PM
Presented by :
Andy Blackmore, EKZNW

The Member of the Executive Committee (MEC) for the environment arbitrarily amended the Mabola Protected Environment's (MPE) boundaries in order to remove legal impediments preventing the mining of coal within this protected area. This decision comes in the wake of the MPE being declared as a protected area and a series of denied appeals ending at the Constitutional Court confirming that Ministers for Environment and Minerals acted outside the rule of law when granting their respective permissions for the MPE to be mined. The objectives of this presentation are to (1) evaluate the potential consequences of the MEC's decision for protected areas and South Africa's reputation for safeguarding its protected areas and commitment to the conservation of biodiversity, (2) identify possible weaknesses in the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act 57 of 2003 (NEMPAA), and (3) make recommendations to strengthen this Act to reduce the vulnerability of protected areas to arbitrary and prejudicial decision-making. The decision taken by the MEC highlights the vulnerability of protected areas, and therein the conservation of biodiversity, to parochial or partisan objectives and profit-vested interests of limited public benefit. It is further concluded that the discretionary clauses in NEMPAA need to be amended to limit the scope the discretion may be applied.

Sustainable and ethical use of protected areas: An evolutionary tale
12:14PM - 12:24PM
Presented by :
Magda Goosen, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.com
Co-authors :
Andy Blackmore, EKZNW
Colleen Downs, University Of KwaZulu-Natal

Over the last century, the parallel evolution of protected areas, management plans and recreational use brought about a complex relationship between the three. The fragmented legal and policy framework requires a consolidated decision-making framework that facilitates (a) consistent interpretation of legislation and policies, (b) ethical and transparent decision-making, and (c) responsible, reasonable, and administratively just decision-making as provided for in section 33 of the Constitution of South Africa. This study draws on best practice principles, policies and legislation to analyse the most critical principles for decision-making relating to the recreational use of protected areas. A literature review was used to investigate the principles that must inform decision-making in managing use in protected areas. The management plan's role in applying these principles was considered based on the Policy Arrangement Approach. The management plan serves as a repository for the plethora of legal and policy requirements for managing protected areas. Additionally, it establishes a framework of principles that guide decision-making and ensure the long-term persistence of the protected area, providing guidance where trade-offs between specific objectives are required to ensure the protection of the values and purpose of the protected area. A robust management plan remains critical to address the complexities around protected area management and the fragmented legislative and policy frameworks. Whereas management plans cannot be expected to explicitly cover every emerging circumstance – the principles included in such plans should provide the necessary guidance when unique circumstances arise. Incorporating the vast array of best practice principles and legal requirements into a consolidated decision-making framework in the management plan will ensure consistent interpretation of legislation and policies by managers and ethical and transparent decision-making that is justifiable to stakeholders.

Using what is off to (better) protect what is on
12:25PM - 12:35PM
Presented by :
Alana Duffell-Canham, CapeNature
Co-authors :
Antoinette Veldtman, CapeNature

CapeNature applies the Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation for protected area management. The Conservation Standards facilitate strategic adaptive management through a systematic evidence-based participatory process with stakeholders. The systematic approach makes explicit the links between goals, focal conservation targets, threats, strategies, and actions, enabling management to define and measure the success of their actions in the protected area over time. For off-reserve identification of biodiversity priority areas, a systematic conservation planning process is used (currently); the 2017 Western Cape Biodiversity Spatial Plan (WCBSP) and handbook with associated land-use management guidelines. The WCBSP does not provide detailed mapping within the boundaries of protected areas nor detailed management guidelines as, where there is an approved management plan in place, it is expected that this will determine the allowed activities within each zone. Generally, protected areas should be maintained in a natural or near-natural state, with no loss or degradation of natural habitat, and pre-existing degraded areas should be restored. An important part of on-reserve protected area management planning is the spatial determination of a zone of influence (a non-legislated area around the protected area which aims to facilitate stakeholder engagement to promote an ecologically functional landscape that supports the goals and objectives of the management plan) and protected area buffer zones. There is currently little hard evidence on whether these buffers are adequate to protect not only what is inside protected areas but also the surrounding ecosystems and ecological infrastructure on which the long-term sustainability of protected areas depends and vice-versa. This presentation considers how we can better integrate on- and off-reserve planning to improve the determination of the zone of influence and buffers using the features identified in the WCBSP and sensitivity mapping process.

Managing uncertainty certainly: Re-visioning the adaptive management framework in a parastatal
12:35PM - 12:47PM
Presented by :
Natalie Hayward, CapeNature

Well governed, well designed, and well managed protected areas are considered the most effective tool for conserving biodiversity and providing a range of ecological, socio-economic, and human wellbeing benefits. Protected area management is an intricate dance between biodiversity and the influence of anthropogenic activity and management decisions. Management effectiveness is aimed at evaluating the extent to which protected areas are protecting values and achieving goals and objectives. As managers of protected areas, how well can conservation agencies account for protected area values and the condition of those values, and are our management efforts achieving the desired result? Clearly articulated values and knowledge of their current status is foundational to effective management and measuring the effects of management effort on the biodiversity that agencies are mandated to conserve. How strong is the logic between ecological theory, indicators, triggers for management intervention, monitoring results, and decision making? The answer may lie in the design and application of the adaptive management framework, specifically the design of the science-management interface. CapeNature evaluated the responsiveness of planning frameworks to the adaptive management model to better position itself to respond to evaluating conservation outcomes. While management plans strove for adaptive management, few were structured to enable the adaptive management cycle to function fully. In response, the adaptive management framework was strengthened through the adoption of the Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation (the Conservaton Standards). An audit of adaptive management capability within CapeNature indicates that, generally, the capability does exist. The application of the Conservation Standards has facilitated overcoming the challenge of misalignment or vague linkages in the science-management interface and strengthens the logic between protected area values and human wellbeing. Areas of improvement include financial and human resource capacity to implement monitoring and evaluation at the appropriate scales and knowledge management systems.

High and dry: Are protected areas in the Western Cape missing the boat for freshwater fish conservation?
12:48PM - 01:00PM
Presented by :
Martine Jordaan, CapeNature
Co-authors :
Albert Chakona, South African Institute For Aquatic Biodiversity
Dewidine Van Der Colf, South African National Biodiversity Institute

Freshwater systems and their associated biodiversity are among the most threatened ecosystems globally. The 2018 National Biodiversity Assessment for South Africa indicated that freshwater fish are the most threatened taxonomic group in the country. The Cape Fold Ecoregion (CFE), located within the Western and Eastern Cape Provinces of South Africa, is home to the highest percentage of threatened freshwater fish in the country. The region has an extensive protected area (PA) network biased towards high altitude mountainous areas. This network protects an array of ecosystems, but limited information exists on its role in conserving freshwater fishes of the region. This study evaluated the value of PAs for the protection of freshwater fishes in the Western Cape through assessing both species representation and protected area effectiveness. This was done by setting species conservation targets and then intersecting species distribution data using protected area polygons. Conservation targets were set following the minimum viable population required for long-term persistence, a minimum of ten subpopulations. This, along with population viability and PA effectiveness, was used to determine whether a species is effectively protected by a PA. Species were classified into one of four categories; 1) well protected, 2) moderately protected, 3) poorly protected, and 4) not protected. Our results indicate that the majority of native fish species, with the exception of some headwater specialist species, are inadequately protected within the current PA network in the province. This is mainly a result of the linear nature of riverine ecosystems that increases their sensitivity to threats outside of the PA. These results have implications for protected area expansion and management for improved conservation of native fish.

How are African elephants affecting large trees in which vulture species nest?
01:00PM - 01:12PM
Presented by :
Robin Cook, Elephants Alive
Co-authors :
Ed Witkowski, University Of The Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
Michelle Henley, Elephants Alive

There has been a continual decline in the number of vultures on both a continental scale, as well as regionally within South Africa. For these long-lived bird species, understanding how factors affect individual survival is critical. There has been an emphasis from conservation bodies to understand the habitat and nesting requirements of vultures in protected areas, particularly where elephants can impact trees containing vulture nests. Since 2008, Elephants Alive have collected data on elephant impact on trees utilised by large tree nesting birds across the Associated Private Nature Reserves (APNR) of the Greater Kruger National Park. Annual data is collected on tree species, size morphometrics, elephant impact (type and level), as well as vulture nest activity and nest persistence rates. Furthermore, as knobthorn (Senegalia nigrescens) trees are the most abundant tree species containing vulture nests, data is also collected on control trees without nests in terms of morphometric characteristics and elephant impact. Our results suggest tree survival is significantly greater than vulture nest persistence. Vultures are currently nesting across seven tree species within the APNR, of which knobthorn (55% of all records) was the most abundantly used tree species, followed by jackalberry (Diospyros mespiliformis) (16%). Elephant impact was highest on knobthorns, with the lowest impact on jackalberry trees. Of the trees with vulture nests, 66% had been impacted by elephants, of which 77% of the impact recorded was bark-stripping. Knobthorn trees with vulture nests had significantly lower elephant impact scores in comparison to control trees and had a greater height and canopy diameter. Our results are indicative of tree preferences used by vultures for nesting and indicate how mitigation strategies such as wire-netting and beehives can be employed to reduce elephant impact to strategic trees used by vultures for nesting sites in a water-saturated environment.

A pluralist approach to reconcile multiple stakeholders’ aspirations for an elephant reserve
01:12PM - 01:24PM
Presented by :
Antoinette Van De Water, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Co-authors :
Suzan M. Doornwaard, The Elephant Path
Michelle Henley, Elephants Alive
Lucy Bates, University Of Sussex
Rob Slotow, University Of KwaZulu-Natal

The simultaneous global issues of biodiversity loss and growing social inequality require new, integrated approaches that support livelihoods while promoting local buy-in for nature conservation. South Africa's Gauteng Province is characterised by high levels of inequality, poverty, unemployment, and loss of ecosystem services. To boost conservation and alleviate poverty in the region, the Dinokeng Game Reserve (DGR) was established in 2011. The introduction of the "Big 5" to Dinokeng attracted more tourists, but also brought about complex trade-offs between stakeholders, including increased human-elephant conflict and loss of access to land for marginalised communities. The aim of this study was to use the lessons learned from the DGR case study in the development of a nature-based approach for urgent global problems. We assessed the perspectives of people living inside and outside DGR on: (1) the benefits elephants bring to the reserve and its surrounding communities; (2) barriers to socio-ecological sustainability; and (3) solutions to address these barriers. The study identified significant differences between stakeholders in attitudes towards elephants, perceived values of elephants, and access to benefits, although commonalities, especially in key elements of people's vision and solutions, were also uncovered. Both subgroups envisioned a future of unity and living in harmony with nature, with thriving elephants and fair access to benefits for all, and highlighted the importance of good governance, collaboration, and education. The emerging pluralistic approach combines nature conservation with socio-economic development, generates mutually beneficial outcomes for multiple beneficiaries, and promotes transformative conservation in which elephants, or other iconic species, aid in rewilding land, whilst simultaneously supporting local livelihoods, and promoting unity.

Question and Answer Session with Moderated Discussion: Management Effectiveness and Threats to Protected Areas
01:24PM - 01:30PM
Presented by :
Yvette Ehlers Smith, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Co-authors :
Nigel Dudley, Equilibrium Research
Andy Blackmore, EKZNW
Magda Goosen, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.com
Alana Duffell-Canham, CapeNature
Natalie Hayward, CapeNature
Martine Jordaan, CapeNature
Robin Cook, Elephants Alive
Antoinette Van De Water, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
11:30AM - 01:30PM
Virtual Online Symposium - Parallel Session
Session Eighteen: Management of Invasive Alien Animals in South Africa
Format : Parallel Session | Special Session | Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Moderators
Andrew Turner, CapeNature
Julia Wood, City Of Cape Town

The effectiveness of invasive alien animal management in South Africa can be improved by ensuring that there are strong links and feedbacks between science and management.

The CAPE Invasive Alien Animal Working Group (IAAWG) was established in 2008 to enhance cooperation among stakeholders such as implementing agencies and researchers and thereby improve the management of invasive animals in the Western Cape, South Africa. The IAAWG is a valuable forum to improve management effectiveness and support implementation decisions. Further, it has advanced the understanding of research findings and the implementation of management objectives.

This special session will focus on the challenges associated with the effective identification, classification, eradication, and control of invasive alien animals in South Africa, with a focus on implementation projects in the Western Cape. The presentations will conclude with a facilitated discussion on emerging lessons and principles for effective detection, reporting and eradication of invasive alien animals.

The impacts of National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act: Alien and Invasive Species regulated mammal taxa

Claude MoshobaneSouth African National Biodiversity Institute
Keeping aviary birds out of the wild: Loopholes, lessons and the way forward

Dr. Craig Whittington-JonesGauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development
A review of more than a decade of problem-causing animal control on Robben Island

Christopher WilkeRobben Island Museum
Efforts to protect Cape Town's natural areas from mallard duck (Anas platyrhynchos) and house crow (Corvus splendens) invasions

Marco MeyerCity of Cape Town
City of Cape Town, Invasive Animal Project, European paper wasp (Polistes dominula) and German wasp (Vespula germanica)

Mfundo TafeniCity of Cape Town
Managing the polyphagous shot hole borer beetle (Euwallacea fornicatus) and its fungal symbiont (Fusarium euwallaceae) in the City of Cape Town

Phumudzo RamabulanaCity of Cape Town
Efforts to contain the spread of the guttural toad (Sclerophrys gutturalis) in the south-western Cape, South Africa

Marco MeyerCity of Cape Town
Common carp (Cyprinus carpio): The ecological engineers of Lake Groenvlei

Johnny SnymanInvasive Fish Species Management

Direct Zoom link (only use if the Join Live button above fails) - https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85610621301

Session Eighteen Introduction
11:30AM - 11:35AM
Presented by :
Andrew Turner, CapeNature
Julia Wood, City Of Cape Town
The impacts of National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act: Alien and Invasive Species regulated mammal taxa
11:35AM - 11:47AM
Presented by :
Claude Moshobane, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Co-authors :
Fortune Ravhuanzwo, Centre For Ecological And Sustainability Advisory (Pty) Ltd

On a global scale, invasive alien species (IAS) pose major negative impacts on biodiversity and human socioeconomic affairs. The degree of invasiveness and associated impacts vary greatly between species. Legal regulations relating to the management of invasive alien species requires evidence based on scientific research. Therefore, assessment of the impacts of IAS is a critical component of their effective management. In this study, the generic impact scoring system (GISS) was used to assess the impacts of regulated mammal taxa of South Africa. In total, 45 National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (NEM:BA) regulated mammal species were identified and assessed for both environmental and socioeconomic impacts. The species scoring the highest environmental impact was the black rat (Rattus rattus) followed by the wild boar (Sus scrofa), while the species scoring the highest socio-economic impact was the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) followed by the wild boar. There was no statistically significant difference between overall environmental and socio-economic impact scores  (v = 17, p = 0.173). The order Artiodactyla had overall the highest environmental impact score, followed by Rodentia. There was a significant difference between the levels of mechanisms for both environmental and socio-economic impact categories (p < 0.05). Our findings reaffirm the major impacts associated with invasive mammals species. The outcomes of this study contribute to the management, particularly regulation and listing process of alien mammal species in South Africa. Due to competing interests for limited resources and the large number of IAS, biodiversity managers require processes and evidence-based analytical tools to manage and mitigate the impacts of invasive species. We, therefore, call for a frequent assessment of regulated species.

Keeping aviary birds out of the wild: Loopholes, lessons and the way forward
11:47AM - 11:59AM
Presented by :
Craig Whittington-Jones, Gauteng Department Of Agriculture And Rural Development
Co-authors :
Ian Rushworth, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Henk Nel, BirdLasser

Introduced bird species are a familiar feature of many South African landscapes. While not all are known to have a negative impact on indigenous biodiversity or food security, the IUCN maintains that a lack of certainty about the potential implications of an invasion should not be used as a reason for delaying appropriate action. Failure to act now could greatly exacerbate future management challenges and costs should intervention later become necessary later. The objective of this work is to highlight the need for more focused attention on the detection and management of alien bird species. South Africa has an extensive and highly dedicated network of professional and volunteer observers that routinely collect and share sightings of birds through formal mapping and monitoring projects, and social media. The BirdLasser app for smartphones has revolutionised our ability to gather large volumes of high-resolution distribution and population data for birds. An Invasive Species Cause was registered through the app to promote the recording and reporting of sightings of alien species. A preliminary assessment of alien bird sightings from various sources indicates that the live bird trade is a key invasion pathway and suggests that psittacines (parrots) and anatids (ducks, geese and swans) are the taxa likely to produce the newest potentially invasive species. The development of an early warning system should be prioritised, and existing attitudes, laws and policies related to the keeping of birds in captivity should be reviewed. Furthermore, institutional capacity to mount a rapid and effective response to emerging alien invasive bird species needs to be developed as a matter of urgency.

A review of more than a decade of problem-causing animal control on Robben Island
12:00 Noon - 12:12PM
Presented by :
Christopher Wilke, Robben Island Museum

Robben Island Museum (RIM), an entity of the Department of Arts and Culture, is the management authority for Robben Island which received UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1999. The 500 ha island is located in Table Bay off Cape Town, South Africa. It is an important breeding habitat for several seabird species and provides sanctuary for two that are Endangered, the African penguin (Spheniscus demersus) and the bank cormorant (Phalacrocorax neglectus). The island vegetation was originally Dune Strandveld. However, after 400 years of anthropogenic disturbance, little of this remains today. Along with domestic animals, European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) were introduced in 1654. Overgrazing was already noted by 1659. Throughout the 20th century, the introduction of non-native mammals continued. During World War II over 50 ha was planted with Australian eucalyptus trees to provide camouflage for military installations. Direct anthropogenic disturbance included stone and lime quarrying during the late 1600s. The built environment, including World War II infrastructure, accounts for some 66 ha. The European rabbit population exploded in the mid-2000s with numbers estimated to have exceeded 18,000. This, combined with the foraging impact of introduced ungulates, denuded the island of any palatable vegetation. The continued presence of feral cats (Felis catus) is considered to be a threat to the indigenous seabird populations. We review the management intervention by RIM since 2009 to eradicate populations of European rabbits, feral cats, and fallow deer (Dama dama). RIM weathered significant pressure from animal rights groups to desist from culling and allow for capture and relocation. The method for removal of these species has been by shooting. Due to the nocturnal nature of these species, and to avoid conflict with tourism activity, hunting has been conducted at night. Activities were intermittently monitored by the SPCA. Many eradication projects fail as funding is pulled once significant reductions have been attained. RIM must be congratulated for not falling into this trap and sustaining mop-up operations. Full eradication of rabbits was achieved by 2017 (10,638 culled). Cat and fallow deer have currently been reduced to very low levels, less than 10 and 20 respectively.

Efforts to protect Cape Town's natural areas from mallard duck (Anas platyrhynchos) and house crow (Corvus splendens) invasions
12:12PM - 12:24PM
Presented by :
Mfundo Tafeni, City Of Cape Town
Co-authors :
Marco Meyer, City Of Cape Town

In 2010, the City of Cape Town's Biodiversity Branch initiated an invasive animal control programme to control and possibly extirpate the populations of invasive alien house crows (Corvus splendens) and mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos) to protect the City of Cape Town's natural areas. The house crow, indigenous to the Indian subcontinent, was first introduced to Africa in the 1890s and to South Africa since the 1970's, with five known established populations largely confined in the urban areas of Cape Town, Gqeberha, Durban, Richards Bay, and Howick. In 2012, the Cape Town house crow population was estimated to be 10,000 birds. Efforts to control and possibly extirpate the population were implemented after the City of Cape Town received funding from the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment's Working for Water Programme. Over the past ten years, integration of control methods such as baiting, trapping and collection of house crow nests were used to control the population to less than 500 birds by March 2020. Currently, the project is facing various challenges to extirpate the remaining birds. The second invasive alien species, the mallard duck, has been introduced to many countries outside its natural range and are present at many public open spaces and private estates in Cape Town. As mallard ducks hybridise with indigenous ducks of closely related species, producing fertile offspring, their presence risks the loss of indigenous species through the introgression of alien genes. Monitoring and control operations started with the goal of extirpation, but this has since been modified to focus on protecting the cities' protected areas and their indigenous waterfowl populations. This presentation will highlight ongoing challenges and lessons learned relating to efforts to control and eradicate invasive alien bird species.

City of Cape Town, Invasive Animal Project, European paper wasp (Polistes dominula) and German wasp (Vespula germanica)
12:25PM - 12:31PM
Presented by :
Marco Meyer, City Of Cape Town

The European paper wasp (Polistes dominula) and the German wasp (Vespula germanica) are two invasive alien wasp species introduced to the City of Cape Town. Both species compete with indigenous paper wasp species, other invertebrate species, and pose a threat to the city's residents. The German wasp is a threat to the grape industry, as they are known to cause damage to grapes; they are also a threat to hikers and vineyard workers because they can be aggressive when disturbed. In 2015, the City of Cape Town began efforts to control the alien wasp populations. This presentation reports on activities, progress and challenges encountered when managing these invasive invertebrate species. Key challenges include funding, the speed at which they breed and spread, lack of awareness, and the presence of wasps in natural areas. The City of Cape Town continues to implement the invasive wasp control project across the city, but the focus has shifted to protecting the protected areas from invasion and removing nests in public open spaces where they are in close contact with the public.

Managing the polyphagous shot hole borer beetle (Euwallacea fornicatus) and its fungal symbiont (Fusarium euwallaceae) in the City of Cape Town
12:31PM - 12:37PM
Presented by :
Phumudzo Ramabulana, City Of Cape Town

The polyphagous shot hole borer beetle (PSHB; Euwallacea fornicatus) was first confirmed to be present in South Africa in 2017. PSHB affects both exotic and indigenous tree species. After several reports of its effects in Johannesburg, George and Knysna, the City of Cape Town decided to adopt a proactive approach and detect PSHB early. At the beginning of 2019, PSHB awareness material and a platform to report any symptomatic trees were developed to help with early detection. In April 2019, PSHB affected trees were confirmed in Somerset West, Cape Town. In an effort to contain its spread, surveys are being conducted across the City of Cape Town but with an emphasis in Somerset West, and highly infested reproductive host trees are being removed. Complete removal of reproductive host trees is considered the best control measure to avoid widespread infestations. To date, more than 1,000 affected trees have been removed and PSHB has not yet been reported elsewhere in the City of Cape Town.

Efforts to contain the spread of the guttural toad (Sclerophrys gutturalis) in Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa
12:38PM - 12:44PM
Presented by :
Marco Meyer, City Of Cape Town

The guttural toad (Sclerophrys gutturalis) is a large toad, native to the eastern parts of South Africa. In 2000, a population of guttural toads was identified on a property in Constantia, Cape Town, well outside its native range. The population was initially restricted to a 2 km2 area, but by 2007 the population was shown to be expanding. Due to this, the guttural toad is considered an extralimital invader and listed as a category 1b species for the Western Cape in the Invasive Alien Species Regulations under the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (Act No. 10 of 2004). In 2009, the City of Cape Town Invasive Species Unit mapped the occurrence of guttural toads and, in 2010, fieldwork started with a private contractor employed through the City of Cape Town in an effort to eradicate the toad. Residents report guttural toad presence through phone calls and emails. Field staff also approach properties where they hear the toads calling and do pamphlet drops to raise awareness. The initial goal of eradicating the guttural toad has since been modified to contain its spread. Reports outside of the core Constantia population are treated as a priority. To date, two reports outside of the Constantia area were received for Noordhoek and Kenilworth respectively; these populations were controlled and no reports for those areas have been received since. As of March 2021, over 25,000 toads have been removed, including tadpoles and metamorphs. Property access is an issue in the implementation of the guttural toad project. The toads are mostly removed from private properties and some residents are reluctant to provide access to the teams. The City has implemented awareness campaigns by dropping pamphlets as well as conducting presentations to friends groups and garden clubs. This has resulted in an increase in property access but there are still many where the guttural toads can be heard calling but access has not been granted. Funding and capacity have been a major issue in the implementation of these projects as well and there have been periods where no implementation took place.

Common carp (Cyprinus carpio): The ecological engineers of Lake Groenvlei
12:44PM - 12:50PM
Presented by :
Johnny Snyman, Invasive Fish Species Management

The widely distributed common carp (Cyprinus carpio) is listed as one of the top invasive freshwater species, causing the destruction and ecological reengineering of freshwater bodies. The common carp was illegally introduced to Groenvlei Lake in Goukamma Nature Reserve in the 1990s. Over the past two decades, the lake’s water clarity and fragile aquatic ecosystem have seen a steep decline. In 2018 a group of volunteers presented a proposed strategy for controlling carp numbers by means of hunting with a bow and arrow. Although unconventional and never attempted in carp management, the proposal was approved for a one-year trial period. To ensure funding towards future carp management, the volunteers formed the non-profit enterprise Invasive Fish Species Management (IFSM), resulting in a formal partnership with CapeNature. High activity carp locations are pinpointed with drone imagery and carp are mostly hunted after nightfall by two-man teams on boats equipped with electric motors and illuminating lights. Specialised bows equipped with reels, containing braided line, are connected to heavy barbed arrows. Large breeders are selectively targeted. IFSM has subsequently also developed a strategy that combines bowhunting with gill netting. Bowhunting resulted in the removal of 1319 carp, totalling 5,885 kg, in the first nine months of the project, between March 2018 and October 2021, a further 4,206 carp, totalling 16,040 kg, have been bowhunted. As of October 2021, the combined bowhunting-gill netting catch was 5,337 carp, totalling 18.91 tons. Although the methods used have been successful, Groenvlei Lake remains overpopulated with carp. Reverse engineering the lake towards its once pristine state calls for more financial support and long-term management.

Question and Answer Session with Moderated Discussion: Management of Invasive Alien Animals in South Africa
12:50PM - 01:30PM
Presented by :
Andrew Turner, CapeNature
Julia Wood, City Of Cape Town
Co-authors :
Claude Moshobane, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Craig Whittington-Jones, Gauteng Department Of Agriculture And Rural Development
Christopher Wilke, Robben Island Museum
Marco Meyer, City Of Cape Town
Mfundo Tafeni, City Of Cape Town
Phumudzo Ramabulana, City Of Cape Town
Johnny Snyman, Invasive Fish Species Management
02:00PM - 04:00PM
Virtual Online Symposium - Parallel Session
Session Nineteen: Recent Legal Developments in the Conservation Sphere
Format : Parallel Session | Special Session | Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Moderators
Michael Kidd, University Of KwaZulu-Natal

This special session, in collaboration with the Environmental Law Association of South Africa, will look at legal developments, mainly cases and some limited legislation, pertinent to the environment and biodiversity conservation and of relevance to a range of symposium themes.

South Africa is reeling not only from the effects of the climate crises and COVID but also from recent developments in environmental regulation. Governance issues in the conservation and environmental arenas are increasingly coming under scrutiny due to irreconcilable policy decisions made by authorities. Progressively public awareness and, in some cases, social outrage have resulted in environmental authorities being held accountable for contentious decisions. Some of these decisions, under interrogation of the law, have been set aside but the importance of an astute and alert environmental legal fraternity is more important than ever. In this session, the Environmental Law Association of South Africa (ELA) will unpack some of the most contentious recent legal issues related to environmental compliance and provide insights into recent legislative developments pertinent to conservation.

The quality of environmental impact assessments in national parks, wildlife crime, biodiversity finance, and the breakdown of rhino poaching criminal judgments will be focussed on by the experts. The wealth of collective expertise of the speakers will provide for an excellent opportunity for discussion, not only on the topics presented, but also on any issues relating to law and biodiversity conservation. The discussion will be open to all delegates to ask any questions relating to law and biodiversity conservation.

Evading environmental compliance: Is this the new "business as usual" for a cash-strapped government?

Jeremy RidlRidl & Co
Biodiversity financing - a critical aspect of post-COVID recovery plans

Jacolette AdamExigent Environmental
Evaluating environmental impact assessment report quality in South African national parks

Dr. Reece AlbertsNorth-West University
Protected environments: "The forgotten sibling"

Namhla TengwaNdlovu de Villiers Attorneys
Defining wildlife crime

Dr. Inge SnymanNorth-West University
Some thoughts about recent rhinoceros poaching cases

Prof. Michael KiddUniversity of KwaZulu-Natal

Direct Zoom link (only use if the Join Live button above fails) - https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89549046433

Session Nineteen Introduction
02:00PM - 02:05PM
Presented by :
Michael Kidd, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Evading environmental compliance: Is this the new “business as usual” for a cash-strapped government?
02:05PM - 02:25PM
Presented by :
Jeremy Ridl, Ridl & Co

This presentation covers two cases of "environmental compliance evasion" featured in the media recently both of which appear to have been facilitated by willing officials in the South Africa Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE). In the first, Karpowership SA was given the approval to establish floating electricity generation facilities in South African ports, projects that necessarily involve the undertaking of "listed activities", without environmental authorisation. DFFE issued the approval under the provisions of section 30A of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA). Section 30A provides for a directive to be issued permitting a listed or specified activity, without obtaining environmental authorisation, in order to prevent or contain an emergency situation or the effects of the emergency situation. In the first case, the "emergency situation" cited was the need for electricity, primarily for health care facilities, triggered by the COVID pandemic. In the second case, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Management Authority (IWPM) mechanically opened the mouth of the St. Lucia estuary under the guise of a "maintenance management plan." This was driven by the business community of St. Lucia village, with support from farmers in the Mfolozi river floodplain. The artificial breaching of the estuary, by digging a canal through the sandbank, involved listed activities requiring environmental authorisation. The actions disregarded the recommendations of the comprehensive scientific studies undertaken on the wetland system over many years, which informed both the approved management plan for the estuary and the decisions of the courts. This presentation will examine the legality of these actions, the conduct of the officials involved, and the growing pressure on the government to fast-track projects perceived to be important to South Africa's development imperatives. Environmental compliance is perceived to be an obstacle to development as defined by the political agenda of the government. Finally, the presentation will examine the appropriate use of section 30A of NEMA.

Biodiversity financing – a critical aspect of post-COVID recovery plans
02:25PM - 02:40PM
Presented by :
Jacolette Adam, Exigent

In April 2020, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Biodiversity Land Use and Ecosystems (BLUE) programme and the United Nations Biodiversity Finance Initiative held a three-day global virtual conference. The main discussion point at this conference was the interaction between nature and the current pandemic. Questions were asked in terms of what can be learnt from this situation in terms of improving the balance scale between biodiversity and COVID? And what can be improved from the current system post-COVID? How can nature help us, and we help nature – for improving safeguards for such situations in the future? The overarching theme of the conference was that a radical re-look at budgets, investments and environmentally destructive policies is necessary for long-term recovery following this crisis. This COVID pandemic proves that we can no longer afford biodiversity finance as an afterthought in the environmental conventions' realm; it needs to be the foundation. South Africa has been aligning their thinking with the Convention of Biological Diversity principle of mainstreaming - which has three pillars - 1) reduce (resources causing harm to biodiversity); 2) generate additional resources from all sources, and 3) enhance effectiveness and efficiency of resource use. The Conservation Finance Alliance has proposed immediate actions which could make a difference on a local scale, including linking the cost of sovereign debt to enhancing biodiversity, creating recovery packages that are biodiversity positive for producers and consumers, specific finance mechanisms for transition such as green bonds for transition, and transparency on environmental impact by influential companies, public sector and finance institutions. We should use this COVID pandemic as an opportunity to include mainstreaming biodiversity into these systems during our rebuild of more resilient systems.

Evaluating environmental impact assessment report quality in South African national parks
02:40PM - 02:52PM
Presented by :
Reece Alberts, North-West University
Co-authors :
Francois Retief, North-West University
Luke Sandham, North West University

This research evaluates environmental impact assessment (EIA) report quality for a selected sample of development projects in SANParks-managed national parks. It applies an adapted version of an international EIA report quality review package to 24 developments within ten national parks, across three EIA regimes. The results suggest good EIA report quality across all four quality review areas, with improvement over time, but also highlight particular weaknesses in terms of dealing with waste and, to a lesser extent, with significance and mitigation. To build on this research, the development of a conservation sector-specific EIA report quality review package is recommended, with more emphasis on the strategic context, waste and water-related aspects. The conclusion is that the EIA is well-positioned to remain an important decision support instrument for developments within national parks. The positive results show that EIA reports for developments in South African national parks are generally of sufficient quality for decision-making that benefits conservation. However, weaker performance regarding waste, significance determination, water-related impacts, and a lack of consideration of strategic context was found. The research recommends the development of a country and conservation-specific EIA report quality review package to improve report quality in the areas of weakness, thereby increasing the value of EIA as an instrument for environmental governance and sustainable development in conservation areas.

Protected environments: "The forgotten sibling"
02:52PM - 03:04PM
Presented by :
Namhla Tengwa, Ndlovu De Villiers Attorneys

The National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act 57 of 2003 (the 'Act') has created different types of protected areas, one of which is the protected environment. Protected environments are distinct from other protected areas in that they enjoy a lower level of statutory protection but impose far fewer obligations or restrictions on the landowners of these areas. In turn, the Act contemplates a far simpler and expedient declaration process for a protected environment. Despite the designed benefits and objectives of a protected environment tool, the use of this tool is still widely misunderstood and overlooked. This presentation seeks to discuss the process of declaring a protected environment in terms of the Act, to illustrate how and why protected environments are an underutilised resource, and how protected environments can be a useful and effective tool for conservation.

Defining wildlife crime
03:05PM - 03:17PM
Presented by :
Inge Snyman, North-West University

Wildlife crime represents a contemporary biodiversity threat of anthropocentric origin that causes perturbing levels of biodiversity loss. Due to the detrimental impact of wildlife crime on the continued survival of biodiversity, international, national and regional policymakers give it priority on environmental agendas. Contrary to this, a universally accepted definition of "wildlife crime" within a legal context is lacking. This contribution aims to explore existing and related definitions in an attempt to construct a possible definition of "wildlife crime". In order to attain this objective, a literature survey comprising of legal and other interdisciplinary resources was undertaken. A clear definition of "wildlife crime" might offer conceptual boundaries and provide interested parties with a starting point for constructive discourse on the subject.

Some thoughts about recent rhinoceros poaching cases
03:17PM - 03:29PM
Presented by :
Michael Kidd, University Of KwaZulu-Natal

There are several recent legal judgments in South Africa dealing with rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis; Ceratotherium simum) poaching over the past three years. The first part of the presentation examines some of the difficulties facing enforcement authorities that these judgments and the facts of the cases present. These are aspects relevant to general principles of criminal law and the law of evidence. The second part highlights common themes in relation to sentencing.

Question and Answer Session with Moderated Discussion: Recent Legal Developments in the Conservation Sphere
03:29PM - 04:00PM
Presented by :
Michael Kidd, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Co-authors :
Jeremy Ridl, Ridl & Co
Jacolette Adam, Exigent
Reece Alberts, North-West University
Namhla Tengwa, Ndlovu De Villiers Attorneys
Inge Snyman, North-West University
02:00PM - 04:00PM
Virtual Online Symposium - Parallel Session
Session Twenty: Conservation Café III - Gazing at the Crystal Ball: MPAs into the Future
Format : Parallel Session | Moderated Discussion | Workshop
Moderators
Nduduzo Sheshane, WildTrust - WildOceans
Osiphesona Ngcanga, WildTrust - WildOceans
Matshepo Khumalo, Youth4MPAs


Conservation Cafés give all delegates an opportunity to join unstructured youth-led discussions on the topics of their choice, encouraging collaborative input and healthy debate in a non-conventional environment. The aim of the Conservation Café is to encourage constructive conversation, advance collaboration and provide a space to challenge conventional knowledge sharing at The Conservation Symposium. Each day, youth delegates (under the age of 40) will have the chance to suggest a topic of conversation on the Conservation Café boards. Youth delegates are encouraged to type in their topic to claim a spot on the agenda. The youth facilitating these sessions will select three topics from these lists to discuss each day, so be creative! Over the course of the symposium, nine discussion sessions will take place in three separate sessions, and ALL delegates are invited to join the Conversation Café.

Make sure to add your topic and discussion ideas (and comment on the ones already there) on the virtual whiteboard for today's Conservation Cafe.

Direct Zoom link (only use if the Join Live button above fails) - https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82751953230

02:00PM - 04:00PM
Virtual Online Symposium - Plenary Session
Breakaway Meeting: CAPE Invasive Alien Animal Working Group
Format : Parallel Session | Moderated Discussion
Moderators
Julia Wood, City Of Cape Town


The remainder of the standard CAPE Invasive Alien Animal Working Group meeting is opened up to delegate participation for those that have a particular interest in invasive animal issues in the Western Cape of South Africa or who want to understand how they could replicate this successful model in their area of operation.

Direct Zoom link (only use if the Join Live button above fails) - https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85203295476

Friday, 05 Nov 2021
09:00AM - 11:15AM
Virtual Online Symposium - Plenary Session
Session Twenty-One: Ensuring Functional and Effective Marine Protected Areas
Format : Plenary Session | Special Session | Keynote Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Moderators
Craig Mulqueeny, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

New marine protected areas have recently been created and more will be established in pursuit of the 30% target. With all the management and resource constraints and challenges, how do we prevent these merely becoming paper parks?

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are a key mechanism for conserving marine biodiversity, sustaining marine productivity, and maintaining marine ecosystem services. The Convention on Biological Diversity Aichi targets were set at having 10% of coastal and marine areas conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative, and well-connected systems of protected areas by 2020. Post-2020, there has been a move towards conserving 30% of marine areas by 2030.

In the last decade, the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) region has achieved significant MPA expansion, adding 47 new MPAs, and currently about 8% of the WIO EEZ is under protection. South Africa alone has made significant progress with the 2019 declaration 20 new MPAs. Currently, in the MPA network around South Africa, 87% of the 150 marine ecosystem types have some protection, but at least six threatened marine ecosystems are not formally protected. Therefore, regional MPA expansion efforts need to continue.

While there is still a need for further MPA expansion, a critical requirement in achieving marine biodiversity conservation is to ensure that the current MPAs are managed effectively so as not to become mere paper parks. The successful management of a protected area requires the development of a management plan with stakeholders, adequate funding, infrastructure, equipment, and adequate and well-trained human resource capacity. Achieving these aspects is challenging in current economic times, and the Management Authorities of MPAs can benefit from partnerships and external support to bolster the functioning and management effectiveness of these MPAs. Environmental awareness, education, interpretation, as well as co-management agreements with communities, are also important aspects for ensuring the successful conservation of these MPAs. Past assessments of management effectiveness of MPAs in and around South Africa have shown that there is still much room for improvement, and the current challenges are escalating with dwindling financial resources and greater pressures on MPAs.

This special session aims to highlight and generate discussion around the MPA management challenges in the region, with a focus on ensuring that current and newly proclaimed MPAs do not exist in name only.

Marine protected areas in the Western Indian Ocean region: Status and management effectiveness challenges

Dr. Arthur TudaWestern Indian Ocean Marine Science Association
Evaluating the evidence for ecological effectiveness of South Africa's marine protected areas

Dr. Stephen KirkmanDepartment of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment
Participation in marine protected areas within South Africa: Challenges and possibilities

Dr. Kira Erwin, Taryn Pereira-Kaplan & Buhle FrancisDurban University of Technology, Rhodes University & Rhodes University
Using social science to improve communication for marine protected areasDr. Judy MannSouth African Association for Marine Biological Research
Tourists' perceptions around a whale carcass management in a marine protected area setting

Kyle SmithSouth African National Parks
Achieving long-term social and ecological resilience through effectively managed marine protected areas: An iSimangaliso Wetland Park Marine Protected Area case study

Nozibusiso MbongwaWildTrust - WildOceans
Study of the biodiversity in the mesophotic zone of the Comoros Union

Ramadhoine AliUniversity of Comoros
Moving into the mesophotic: describing the benthic ichthyofauna of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park World Heritage Site

Dr. Lauren de VosWildTrust - WildOceans

Direct Zoom link (only use if the Join Live button above fails) - https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89620113566

Session Twenty-One Introduction
09:00AM - 09:10AM
Presented by :
Craig Mulqueeny, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Marine protected areas in the Western Indian Ocean region: Status and management effectiveness challenges
09:10AM - 09:35AM
Presented by :
Arthur Tuda, Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association

According to the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) Marine Protected Areas Outlook report released in July 2021 by the United Nations Environment Programme Nairobi Convention and Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA), the WIO region has 143 marine protected areas (MPAs). This accounts for slightly more than 8% of the WIO exclusive economic zone (EEZ) under marine protection. In terms of MPA expansion, the WIO region has made significant progress, with 47 MPAs established in the last decade. When compared to previous assessments and studies, the region has made significant progress towards the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) conservation targets and goals. However, a close examination of the elements described in the CBD Aichi Target 11 reveals significant gaps that require further attention to improve MPA design and management effectiveness in the region. Furthermore, the capacity for managing MPA sites has not kept pace with the rate of expansion, and this continues to be a major impediment to effective management. WIOMSA has been working with partners to address management capacity gaps in MPAs throughout the region. This presentation highlights past and ongoing capacity-building efforts in the region, as well as the challenges that remain to be addressed as the region joins the rest of the world in making the ambitious commitment to protect 30% of the WIO EEZ by 2030.

Evaluating the evidence for ecological effectiveness of South Africa’s marine protected areas
09:35AM - 09:37AM
Presented by :
Stephen Kirkman, Department Of Forestry, Fisheries And The Environment
Co-authors :
Lauren Williams, Department Of Forestry, Fisheries And The Environment
George Branch, University Of Cape Town

We reviewed 140 papers to assess the efficacy of South Africa's marine protected areas (MPAs). Evidence was assessed for coverage, representativity and protection of important biodiversity areas, connectivity and ecological effects, and other recognised elements of effectiveness, from the scale of individual MPAs to the MPA network scale. We conducted complementary novel analyses to supplement the review and to objectively determine where and how the MPA network can be improved. Evidence showed that South Africa's MPAs now provide some protection to all ecoregions, 87% of ecosystem types but less than 50% of assessed species groups. MPAs are generally well-sited but gaps on the West Coast, estuaries, the deep-sea, and in two ecologically and biologically significant areas were revealed. Enforcement emerged as a key concern and many MPAs could be improved through increasing no-take areas or expansion. The majority of relevant papers recorded beneficial ecological effects, detectable as increases in parameters such as abundance, biomass, sizes, or reproductive output of MPAs. Few papers examined whether ecological benefits translate into adjacent fisheries' benefits, but, those that did, recorded positive effects. Full protection was more effective than partial protection with efficacy demonstrated most clearly for vulnerable target taxa. Further research and monitoring for the evaluation of effectiveness are recommended, with a greater focus on neglected MPAs and species. Understanding ecological connectivity between MPAs, an important dimension for climate change adaptation and hence for the persistence and resilience of South Africa's marine biodiversity, is identified as a key area for further research and inclusion in planning.

Participation in marine protected areas within South Africa: Challenges and possibilities
09:37AM - 09:49AM
Presented by :
Kira Erwin, Durban University Of Technology
Taryn Pereira Kaplan, Rhodes University
Buhle Francis, Rhodes University

Marine protected areas (MPAs) offer one important regulatory response to environmental degradation of the coasts and oceans. The necessity of protecting marine biodiversity and ecosystems from further damage by human activities is critical. But, like all regulatory and governance frameworks these protected areas are shaped by existing power relations in society and impact these relationships in specific geographies. Given the extent of social and economic inequalities in South Africa, inclusion and participation within all governance frameworks remains a substantial challenge. This is also true of MPAs. This paper explores these challenges within MPAs design, implementation, and management, both historically and post-apartheid. Drawing on recent work in the Amathole MPA by One Ocean Hub researchers, we explore what we may learn from alternative participatory methods for inclusive MPA processes. Taking seriously the context of inequality in South Africa, and working with more care and attention to power structures, offers possibilities for a more just and equitable marine governance than what South Africans have experienced thus far. Contextualising and reimagining marine protection and governance in this way works towards positive impacts in the inter-relations between humans and the ecosystems in which they live.

Using social science to improve communication for marine protected areas
09:50AM - 10:02AM
Presented by :
Judy Mann, South African Association For Marine Biological Research

Marine protected areas (MPAs) have an image problem – they are generally loved by people distant from the MPA and, in many cases, the closer to the MPA, the more resistance. So, despite the plethora of guides and tools to assist in the measurement and monitoring of the benefits and losses associated with MPAs, understanding the complex relationship between MPAs, MPA managers and stakeholders remains challenging. It is widely acknowledged that protected areas inevitably require changes in human behaviour for the achievement of conservation outcomes, therefore understanding the complex interplay between social impacts and their influence on attitudes, support and ultimately human behaviour remain an essential piece of the MPA puzzle. This presentation will focus on the use of social science to inform more effective communication to build support for better managed and more effective MPAs that benefit people and ecosystems. The presentation will highlight critical issues around communication about MPAs in South Africa. The goal is to identify critical gaps in our understanding of knowledge and attitudes about MPAs, and how these influence behaviour. The presentation will focus on improving communication about MPAs to support management. Ideas for more effective communication that have already been implemented, such as South Africa's first MPA Day, will be highlighted.

Tourists' perceptions around a whale carcass management in a marine protected area setting
10:02AM - 10:12AM
Presented by :
Kyle Smith, South African National Parks
Co-authors :
Mohlamatsane Mokhatla, South African National Parks
Gwenith Penry, Nelson Mandela University
Jonathan Britton, South African National Parks

Community pressure for the removal of beached whale carcasses is increasing with logistical and financial implications for management authorities. Although common interventions include removal (by sea or land) or burial of the carcass on-site, a "hands-off approach" allowing natural processes to occur is preferred. When a large humpback whale washed ashore in the Tsitsikamma Marine Protected Area (MPA) it provided an opportunity to gain an understanding of tourists' perspectives on whale carcasses and their management within an MPA setting. Tourists were interviewed (n = 80) through a structured, open-ended questionnaire and a thematic analysis approach adopted to identify and quantify key themes. A chi-square test of independence was used to determine: i) whether the respondents' views on management action were related to their knowledge of the MPA and ii) to determine if their views changed when more information was provided. We found tourists' views on carcass management was not related to their knowledge or awareness of the area's MPA status (p = 0.57). Detailing the decision process and outcome significantly influenced tourists' views on carcass management (p < 0.001). Half the respondents initially indicated no intervention should take place, this increased to 73% after more information was provided. Context is important in determining the best course of action and our results indicate that pressure from tourists for the removal of beached whale carcasses may not be as high as expected. Importantly, clear communication and the involvement of relevant stakeholders (e.g. tourism officers, tourists, and concessionaires) within the decision-making process decreased tension and improved the legitimacy of the final decision. This is important due to rising incidences of whale strandings globally, attributed to increased anthropogenic activity in the ocean and the recovery of some whale populations. Management consensus and financial contingencies need to be in place.

Achieving long-term social and ecological resilience through effectively managed marine protected areas: An iSimangaliso Wetland Park Marine Protected Area case study
10:12AM - 10:22AM
Presented by :
Nozibusiso Mbongwa, WildTrust
Co-authors :
Rachel Kramer, WildTrust - WildOceans
Jean Harris, WildTrust - WildOceans
Welly Qwabe, WildTrust

Protection of Africa's oceans lags in both spatial marine protected area (MPA) targets and management effectiveness. Currently, 5.4% of South Africa's mainland exclusive economic zone is formally protected. Work is currently underway to expand this footprint whilst improving management effectiveness under extremely tough capacity and financial constraints alongside competing economic interests for ocean resources. MPAs are an important tool in ocean governance to ensure environmental sustainability and to secure ecosystem services. However, a significant challenge for implementing MPAs across the region is the high dependency of coastal communities on the extraction of marine natural resources, and the lack of alternate livelihoods. It is clear that to ensure conservation in Africa and to achieve international spatial protection goals, inclusive holistic management is required to not only meet the needs of the environment but the communities that rely on them. The Oceans Alive Project implemented in the iSimangaliso MPA, provides a compelling case study of the benefits of this holistic approach. The main objectives of this project are to (i) strengthen management effectiveness, (ii) generate knowledge of deeper ecosystems, (iii) deliver benefits and improved livelihoods to local communities, and (iv) identify sustainable financial mechanisms. A key contribution towards strengthening management effectiveness includes a baseline study to understand the local community's economic circumstances and perceptions surrounding the benefits they derive from nature. Main findings from this study have indicated the need for increased education, awareness, and microenterprise interventions within the MPA, for long-term community involvement in monitoring/management activities and for increased benefits flowing to rural communities living alongside the MPA. The construction of community hubs in iSimangaliso MPA is intended to be a valuable resource centre for the community to provide support for key initiatives such as building ocean awareness, training, microenterprise development, employment opportunities for youth, support for community involvement in conservation activities, and tourism opportunities. Other interventions include bolstering management infrastructure and equipment, improving local management capacity, and involving local communities in monitoring and management activities to strengthen management effectiveness. This project has identified many innovative opportunities that can be applied to improve conservation in the uniquely Africa context.

Study of the biodiversity in the mesophotic zone of the Comoros Union
10:23AM - 10:33AM
Presented by :
Ramadhoine Ali , University Of Comoros
Co-authors :
Jean Harris, WildTrust - WildOceans
Lucy Woodall, University Of Oxford / Nekton
Ayesha Bobat, WILDOCEANS
Ryan Palmer, South African Institute For Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB)

The ecology and biodiversity of mesophotic reefs (40–200 m) is poorly studied in the western Indian Ocean, despite their importance for sustaining fisheries and biodiversity resilience. The objectives of this study were to improve biodiversity knowledge of deep marine ecosystems in Comoros, to build civil society capacity for generating marine science knowledge, and to contribute to conservation action for threatened biodiversity. The study site was designed to investigate biodiversity patterns across three islands and to assess the value of the Mohéli Marine Park. Data collection was carried out aboard RV Angra Pequena in 2018, using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) which has enabled the first visual mesophotic surveys conducted in the deeper habitats of the Comoros Union. The results revealed a statistical significance in overall biodiversity between depth ranges, with high algal cover in the upper and mid-mesophotic zone (40–90 m) and a contrasting, highly diverse, sponge community dominating the lower mesophotic zone (100–120 m). A total of 77 different sponge morphotypes were found in Comoros, of which 58 had well-identified cover. Six of these morphotypes were unique to Anjouan, two in Ngazidja and eight unique morphotypes in Mohéli. The marine protected area (MPA)consistently contained the greatest variety of sponges while the largest sponges were present at Ngazidja. Although the majority of these morphotypes could not be identified to species level, this study has provided the first deep reef inventory that will be widely available and serve as a basis for future studies. Key policy recommendations emerged from this study to protect the exceptional biodiversity which is no doubt an asset for the 'Blue Economy' that Comoros is pursuing, supporting fisheries and providing good tourism potential. Recommendations for decision-makers include expanding the marine protected area network, improving the effectiveness of existing MPAs, and preventing destructive fishing practices.

Moving into the mesophotic: Describing the benthic ichthyofauna of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park World Heritage Site
10:33AM - 10:45AM
Presented by :
Lauren De Vos, WildTrust - WildOceans
Co-authors :
Jennifer Olbers, WildTrust - WildOceans
Anthony Bernard, South African Institute Of Aquatic Biodiversity
Roxanne Juby, South African Institute For Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB)
Angus Van Wyk, South African Institute For Aquatic Biodiversity
Mpilonhle Nyawo, Rhodes University / South African Institute For Aquatic Biodiversity

The mesophotic depth zone (30–150 m) is considered the link between shallow and deep marine ecosystems in tropical and subtropical systems. Studies point to mesophotic coral ecosystems (MCEs) as possible climate refugia and important for replenishing fish populations depleted closer inshore. Baseline information about and long-term monitoring of the fish communities at these depths is therefore important. In the sub-Saharan African region of the Western Indian Ocean (WIO), most data are collected using underwater visual census (UVC) dive surveys of fish communities in the photic (0–30 m) depth zone. Comparable datasets at mesophotic depths are hard to achieve using depth-limited scuba diving surveys. This project conducted the first stereo-BRUVs surveys in the mesophotic depths of northern iSimangaliso in 2020, with the aim of covering a proportion of the Park's mesophotic reefs comparable to the photic dataset. Preliminary results from a subset of data taken from the 35 samples collected during this survey recorded 39 teleost species representing 19 families between 44.5 m and 152.5 m depth. The highest species diversity was recorded in the Labridae (12 species), Sparidae (9 species) and Serranidae (7 species) families. Species unique to the mesophotic were detected in the Epinephelinae, Lutjanidae and Labridae families – a first indication for the management of the region that effective protection of mesophotic depths in iSimangaliso is important to represent biodiversity. Adult individuals of species of conservation concern, including Petrus rupestris (red steenbras; Endangered), Cymotoceps nasutus (black musselcracker; Vulnerable) and Polysteganus praeorbitalis (Scotsman seabream; Vulnerable), were recorded - a preliminary indication for iSimangaliso that mesophotic reefs may be important as refugia and for replenishing depleted stocks inshore.

Question and Answer Session with Moderated Discussion: Ensuring Functional and Effective Marine Protected Areas
10:45AM - 11:15AM
Presented by :
Craig Mulqueeny, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Co-authors :
Arthur Tuda, Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association
Stephen Kirkman, Department Of Forestry, Fisheries And The Environment
Kira Erwin, Durban University Of Technology
Taryn Pereira Kaplan, Rhodes University
Buhle Francis, Rhodes University
Judy Mann, South African Association For Marine Biological Research
Kyle Smith, South African National Parks
Nozibusiso Mbongwa, WildTrust
Ramadhoine Ali , University Of Comoros
Lauren De Vos, WildTrust - WildOceans
Jennifer Olbers, WildTrust - WildOceans
11:30AM - 01:30PM
Virtual Online Symposium - Parallel Session
Session Twenty-Two: Putting Marine Conservation into Marine Spatial Planning
Format : Parallel Session | Special Session | Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Moderators
Amanda Lombard, Nelson Mandela University
Kaylee Smit, University Of Cape Town

The Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) Act was developed to provide institutional arrangements for the implementation of MSP in South Africa and to achieve economic, social and ecological objectives. However, the urgent need to grow the ocean economy is a challenge for incorporating ecosystem-based approaches into MSP, notwithstanding that ecosystem-based management (EBM) is endorsed locally and internationally and underpins the vision of the MSP framework of providing a productive, healthy and safe ocean. Here we present 12 multidisciplinary research projects that support a conservation and EBM approach to MSP.

Marine spatial planning (MSP) has emerged in many countries as a tool for integrated ocean management and, in 2018, South Africa became the first African country to publish MSP legislation (The MSP Act No. 16 of 2018). This Act supports the achievement of economic, social and ecological objectives. The underlying framework of this Act intends to 1) provide a framework for marine spatial planning in South Africa, 2) support the development of marine spatial plans, and 3) provide institutional arrangements for the implementation of marine spatial plans and governance of ocean use by multiple sectors. South Africa's MSP vision refers to "a productive, healthy and safe ocean that is accessible, understood, equitably governed, and sustainably developed and managed for the benefit of all". However, under Operation Phakisa (www.operationphakisa.gov.za), a national policy to grow the oceans economy, it has proved challenging to incorporate an ecosystem-based approach to MSP, especially within the timeframes relevant for economic growth. These challenges are applicable in all socio-economic contexts, particularly in least-developed countries with strong and urgent economic growth imperatives. Marine scientists believe it is imperative to include a conservation and ecosystem-based approach to MSP. Our research agenda, under the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and National Research Foundation (NRF) South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) in MSP, aims to support sustainable MSP practices that do not transcend environmental tipping points or safe operating spaces for human well-being. As such, the aim of this session is to highlight the multi-disciplinary research conducted at Nelson Mandela University and to strengthen conservation and ecosystem-based approaches to MSP implementation.

We encourage participants across all disciplines, but especially from the marine and coastal realm, to attend this session and engage in active discussions and forward-thinking to strengthen ecosystem-based approaches in MSP, creating an opportunity for new and exciting research collaborations and the development of innovative ideas for MSP implementation.

Putting marine conservation into marine spatial planning

Prof. Amanda LombardNelson Mandela University
Benthic habitat mapping using marine geophysics and machine learning on the continental shelf of South Africa

Dr. Talicia PillayCouncil for Geoscience
The role of submarine canyons in structuring epifaunal communities in unconsolidated sediment ecosystems along the eastern margin of South Africa

Sinothando ShibeUniversity of KwaZulu-Natal
Measuring ecosystem condition for marine spatial planning: A case study using rocky reef ecosystems

Dr. Kaylee SmitSouth African National Biodiversity Institute & University of Cape Town
Spatial analyses to assess the effects of new offshore marine protected areas on a pelagic longline fishery with recommendations to inform future marine protected area design

Dr. Jodie ReedIndependent
Behavioural responses of dolphins and whales to commercial boat-based whale-watching vessels in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa

Minke WitteveenNelson Mandela University
Developing a spatial use plan for Plettenberg Bay's boat-based whale-watching tourism industry

Aurore CounilhIndependent
Using species-specific behavioural data to mitigate Bryde's whale (Balaenoptera edeni brydei) entanglements in coastal fishing gear

Dr. Gwenith PenryNelson Mandela University
A systematic conservation plan for sharks and rays in South Africa

Nina Faure BeaulieuWildTrust - WildOceans
Sex and size influence the spatiotemporal distribution of white sharks, with implications for interactions with fisheries and spatial management in the southwest Indian Ocean

Dr. Victoria GoodallNelson Mandela University
The Algoa Bay Project: Collaboration for marine spatial planning

Hannah TruterNelson Mandela University
Applying a systems analysis approach to support Integrated Ocean Management and Marine Spatial Planning

Estee VermeulenNelson Mandela University
Designing a marine spatial plan for Algoa Bay, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Dr. Anne LemahieuNelson Mandela University
Forecasted predictor variables of anthropogenic environmental stressors for the MArine Research and Innovation for Sustainable management of Coasts and Oceans project

Dr. Alejandra Vargas-FonsecaNelson Mandela University

Direct Zoom link (only use if the Join Live button above fails) - https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85458383647

Session Twenty-Two Introduction
11:30AM - 11:35AM
Presented by :
Amanda Lombard, Nelson Mandela University
Putting marine conservation into marine spatial planning
11:35AM - 11:40AM
Presented by :
Amanda Lombard, Nelson Mandela University

South Africa's large exclusive economic zone includes the Indian, Atlantic, and Southern Oceans. Management of this ocean space has traditionally been undertaken within sectors, leading to conflict amongst sectors, and between sectors and the need for environmental protection. As the demand for ocean space and marine resources increases, in response to a growing oceans economy, a more integrated approach to management is required to ensure that both ecological and socio-economic objectives are met. Marine spatial planning (MSP) has emerged in many countries as an effective process to achieve this integration, and in 2016, South Africa became the first African country to draft MSP legislation. In this symposium, we present twelve trans-disciplinary research projects that support a conservation and ecosystem-based approach to MSP. We explore new technologies to map benthic habitats and track white sharks; the use of biological traits to assess ecosystem condition of rocky reefs; spatial management options for marine fisheries; systematic conservation planning for cetaceans, sharks, and rays; the development of sustainable boat-based marine tourism; the mitigation of whale entanglements; and the development of a system dynamics model to support MSP in Algoa Bay, South Africa. We conclude by looking into the future by examining predictor variables of anthropogenic environmental stressors in marine systems and provide some lessons learnt to advance a conservation agenda in South Africa's new MSP initiative.

Benthic habitat mapping using marine geophysics and machine learning on the continental shelf of South Africa
11:40AM - 11:45AM
Presented by :
Talicia Pillay, Council For Geoscience

The authors have developed an algorithm to map benthic habitats on the continental shelf of South Africa, integrating marine geophysics and biological science. Multibeam bathymetry, backscatter, and remotely operated vehicle (ROV) footage were collected on the inner continental shelf of Cape St. Francis and the hydroacoustic data were processed using machine learning clustering techniques. The k-means clustering algorithm was used to map the distribution of sediment at different depths. ROV footage was classified using the Collaborative and Automated Tools for Analysis of Marine Imagery (CATAMI) substrata classification scheme. Eight ROV dives along the three transects located off Seal Point, Cape St. Francis Point, and within the bay were collected, and ranged from 30–80 m in depth. The most common phyla, in order from greatest to least abundance, were Cnidaria, Mollusca, Echinodermata, Chordata (fish species), Arthropoda (subphylum Crustacea), Bryozoa, Porifera, and Chordata (class Ascidiacea), identified both on rocky substrate and sand. The first benthic habitat map of the Cape St. Francis area revealed ten different habitat types, accounting for geology, topography, and sediment cover. This work builds on an ongoing method development that incorporates broader habitat types from a range of substrates, enhancing the robustness of the algorithm, and will aid in improving our current understanding of the relationships between biota and physical habitats along the continental shelf of South Africa.

The role of submarine canyons in structuring epifaunal communities in unconsolidated sediment ecosystems along the eastern margin of South Africa
11:46AM - 11:51AM
Presented by :
Sinothando Shibe, University Of KwaZulu Natal
Co-authors :
Nicola Carrasco, University Of KwaZulu-Natal

Marine unconsolidated sediments, such as sand, gravel, and mud, constitute the most extensive benthic ecosystems globally. Studying different components of these ecosystems can provide a better understanding of deep-sea habitats. This study aimed to investigate the influence of submarine canyons on epifaunal communities on adjacent unconsolidated sediment habitats in two provinces in South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. Footage from a remote-operated vehicle was analysed from sites at varying distances from canyon margins in both regions. The results showed that unconsolidated habitats adjacent to canyon ecosystems in KwaZulu-Natal had higher epifaunal densities with octocorals being the most common and sea pens (Order Pennatulacea) in particular, having the highest observed densities. These dense sea pen assemblages were only found in association with canyon margins. At least nine sea pen species were found in these assemblages with Veretillum, Virgularia, and an unidentified genus being particularly dominant. However, although non-canyon associated habitats had lower densities, a higher species richness was recorded from these habitats. In the Eastern Cape, epifaunal communities present in habitats further away from the Gxulu canyon head were less species rich compared to those closer to the canyon head. Patterns were less clear for epifaunal densities, but the highest density was recorded 3.38 km from the site closest to the canyon head. Depth, canyon proximity, substrate, and current emerged as the key likely drivers of epifaunal assemblages in this region. Epifaunal communities recorded in unconsolidated ecosystems of the KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape regions followed a similar pattern, where the proximity to a canyon had a positive effect on epifaunal densities. This highlights the importance of canyon-associated ecosystems for epifaunal communities due to their role in habitat provision, ecosystem functioning, and potential fish nursery areas.

Measuring ecosystem condition to support marine spatial planning
11:51AM - 11:56AM
Presented by :
Kaylee Smit, University Of Cape Town
Co-authors :
Anthony Bernard, South African Institute Of Aquatic Biodiversity
Amanda Lombard, Nelson Mandela University
Kerry Sink, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)

To sustainably manage the use of ocean space whilst ensuring the delivery of ecosystem services generated from healthy functioning ecosystems, we need to know what it means to be in good ecological condition and how to measure it. However, historical baseline data are seldom available and, in South Africa, we lack a standardised indicator framework to conduct marine condition assessments. The aim of this paper is to investigate and apply potential indicators of ecosystem condition to define reference conditions of rocky reefs and support future condition assessments in South Africa. To achieve this, we tested the response of three types of indicators (structural, size-based, and functional) to three levels of anthropogenic pressures around two marine protected areas in two shelf ecoregions. Multivariate and univariate analyses were used to compare the structure of fish and benthic communities among pressure levels to identify responsive indicators that can be used to define good ecological condition as a reference for future assessments. Results showed that structural indicators, such as abundance of fish or species richness, were not as effective as size-based indicators including total biomass, average length, and proportion of mature fish. Benthic indicators were less responsive than fish ones to anthropogenic pressures, as demonstrated by the lack of differences in the multivariate community structure and indicator responses to pressure levels. However, differences in fish community structure and the responses of size-based indicators demonstrated that rocky reefs in good ecological condition are defined by a higher biomass, average length, and proportion of mature and large (> 30 cm) vulnerable fish compared with exploited reefs. Results from this study provide a baseline with which to compare the condition of other rocky reef ecosystems. Furthermore, recommendations regarding indicator selection can be used to develop a standardised framework for marine condition assessments.

Spatial analyses to assess the effects of new offshore marine protected areas on a pelagic longline fishery with recommendations to inform future marine protected area design
11:57AM - 12:02PM
Presented by :
Jodie Reed, Independent
Co-authors :
Amanda Lombard, Nelson Mandela University
Kerry Sink, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Sven Kerwath, Department Of Forestry, Fisheries And The Environment

In South Africa, a network of 20 new marine protected areas (MPAs) was declared in 2019, expanding the protection of South Africa's mainland ocean territory to approximately 5%. The South African Large Pelagic Longline fishery, which targets tunas and tuna-like species, has raised concerns over the unquantified impact of offshore MPAs on the sector and noted that their mobile gear may lead to exclusion from broader areas beyond the MPA boundary given the nature of their drifting gear. The effects of new MPAs on the fishery in terms of effort, catch, and bycatch affected were quantified. Using global positioning system information from individual longline sets in conjunction with local ocean current data, the area of highest risk of drift was determined for two new offshore MPAs. The impact of the MPA network on pelagic longline catch was found to be low to moderate (2.0–10.7%), while the simulated reduction in bycatch of one of the two main bycatch species, shortfin mako sharks (Isurus oxyrinchus), was high (12.8%). In addition, the absolute simulated reduction in bycatch of shortfin mako sharks was at least three times higher, by weight, than the simulated reduction of catch of any target species. The area where the probability of set lines drifting into MPAs was 25% or greater - a novel drift caution buffer - was 0.58–1.24 times the area of the Orange Shelf Edge MPA and 0.65–1.38 times the area of the Southwest Indian Seamount MPA. These should not be considered areas of exclusion to the fishery, but rather as areas where extra vigilance is needed and the drift duration of lines adjusted accordingly. Future systematic conservation planning for offshore MPAs should take current velocities in areas surrounding potential MPA sites into consideration when evaluating the potential effects MPAs may have on sectors using drifting fishing gear.

Question and Answer Session with Moderated Discussion Part I: Putting Marine Conservation into Marine Spatial Planning
12:02PM - 12:12PM
Presented by :
Amanda Lombard, Nelson Mandela University
Kaylee Smit, University Of Cape Town
Co-authors :
Talicia Pillay, Council For Geoscience
Sinothando Shibe, University Of KwaZulu Natal
Jodie Reed, Independent
Behavioural responses of dolphins and whales to commercial boat-based whale-watching vessels in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa
12:12PM - 12:17PM
Presented by :
Minke Witteveen, Nelson Mandela University
Co-authors :
Gwenith Penry, Nelson Mandela University
Mark Brown, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Amanda Lombard, Nelson Mandela University

The boat-based whale-watching (BBWW) industry in South Africa doubled in size between 1998 and 2017, from 20 to 40 available permits. Despite global evidence that BBWW can have negative impacts on the species it relies upon, there has been no assessment of the impacts of the industry in South Africa. This study, a first for the country, investigated the short-term movement and behavioural responses of six cetacean species to the presence of BBWW vessels in Plettenberg Bay. Behavioural observations and theodolite tracking were undertaken in the presence (impact) and absence (control) of a BBWW vessel. Behavioural response variables included transition probability, state budget, rate of occurrence of behavioural events, mean respiration rate, mean dive time, and mean surface time. Movement response variables measured included mean swimming speed, mean acceleration, linearity, deviation index, and mean bearing. Results show that the three whale species (Balaenoptera edeni brydei - Bryde's whale, Megaptera novaeangliae - humpback whale, and Eubalaena australis - southern right whale) did not, with the exception of state budget, have significant behavioural or movement responses to the presence of a BBWW vessel. The three dolphin species (Delphinus delphis - common dolphin, Tursiops aduncus - Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin, Sousa plumbea - Indian Ocean humpback dolphin) did not show significant movement responses to BBWW vessel presence but did show significant behavioural changes (state budget, average bout length, and average recovery time). Recommendations to reduce the impact of the industry on the animals it relies on include: increased enforcement efforts, species-specific revisions to permit regulations, and ethical advertising. Results will also advise future expansion of the industry within the framework of the new marine area plans required under the Marine Spatial Planning Act, by providing evidence-based spatial and temporal zonation recommendations for BBWW activities designed to minimise disturbance of sensitive behaviours in critical habitats. Further research should incorporate these findings into assessments of long-term population-level consequences.

Developing a spatial use plan for Plettenberg Bay's boat-based whale-watching tourism industry
12:17PM - 12:22PM
Presented by :
Aurore Counilh, Nature's Valley Trust
Co-authors :
Mark Brown, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Minke Witteveen, Nelson Mandela University
Gwenith Penry, Nelson Mandela University
Amanda Lombard, Nelson Mandela University

The number of boat-based whale-watching (BBWW) operators in South Africa has doubled in the last two decades, including increases in the number of permits available in areas designated for BBWW. However, no assessment of the ecological sustainability of this activity has been made. While widely supported as a non-lethal use of cetaceans, there are negative effects that can result in long-term consequences on populations. This study aimed to develop a spatial use plan for Plettenberg Bay's BBWW industry. Land-based theodolite tracking and behavioural observations were used to collect data on the movements and behaviours of six cetacean species (Delphinus capensis/delphis, Tursiops aduncus, Sousa plumbea, Balaenoptera edeni brydei, Megaptera novaeangliae and Eubalaena australis), BBWW vessels, and their interactions. Using QGIS and Marxan, a spatial use plan was developed. Results show that the distribution patterns of some cetacean behaviours follow environmental factors (depth, habitat, prey availability). Some behaviours are spatially confined to certain areas in the bay (e.g. bottlenose dolphins resting) while others show no particular pattern (e.g. humpback whales socialising). Areas important for cetaceans overlap with BBWW activities and cetaceans might benefit from spatial restrictions of BBWW and other vessels, especially Endangered humpback dolphins. Restrictions should account for the seasonal shift in cetacean distribution (migratory whales along the coastline from June to November) and include additional data on behaviour sensitivity to disturbance, behaviour importance to species, and other human activities in the bay. Recommendations for spatial and temporal zonations can guide the future growth of BBWW in Plettenberg Bay, within the framework of the new marine area plans required under the Marine Spatial Planning Act. These recommendations aim to minimise disturbance of cetaceans' sensitive behaviours in critical habitats while balancing the industry's need to encounter the animals they rely on.

Using species-specific behavioural data to mitigate Bryde’s whale (Balaenoptera edeni brydei) entanglements in coastal fishing gear
12:23PM - 12:28PM
Presented by :
Gwenith Penry, Nelson Mandela University
Co-authors :
Paolo Segre, Stanford University
Jacopo Di Clemente, University Of Copenhagen
Shirel Kahane-Rapport, Stanford University
William Gough, Stanford University
Michael Meÿer, SAWDN
Amanda Lombard, Nelson Mandela University
Jeremy Goldbogen, Stanford University

Increasing demand to explore economic opportunities from the oceans has introduced new biodiversity management challenges. In recent decades, natural and human-induced changes in the South African marine ecosystem have necessitated complex, interdisciplinary approaches to address conservation concerns. Although coastal fishery development has clear economic benefits, unexpected ecological consequences have arisen; the introduction of an exploratory octopus fishery resulted in an unsustainably high rate of fatal entanglements of Vulnerable inshore Bryde's whales (Balaenoptera edeni brydei). To address this, we used suction-cup attached bio-loggers to identify the specific sub-surface behaviours of these whales that likely resulted in their entanglement. We identified a previously undescribed feeding behaviour used by Bryde's whales to catch prey, which makes them susceptible to entanglement and subsequent mortality in bottom-mounted fishing gear. As they chase down their prey, inshore Bryde's whales race and manoeuvre along the seafloor for extended periods of time, making multiple direction changes and reaching extraordinarily high swimming speeds. These findings assisted in the implementation of mandatory changes to octopus fishing gear that have drastically reduced the number of entanglements. The novel finding that Bryde's whales use high-speed chases near the seafloor to catch their prey highlights the importance of considering species-specific behavioural information, in combination with the knowledge of fishers and biodiversity managers, to guide marine spatial planning and ensure sustainable use of the complex 3-dimensional ocean space. 

A systematic conservation plan for sharks and rays in South Africa
12:28PM - 12:33PM
Presented by :
Nina Faure Beaulieu, WildTrust - WildOceans
Co-authors :
Amanda Lombard, Nelson Mandela University
Victoria Goodall, Institute For Coastal And Marine Research, Nelson Mandela University
Jennifer Olbers, WildTrust - WildOceans

South Africa is a global hotspot for shark and ray (elasmobranch) diversity, with high endemism, and it provides essential habitats for many wide-ranging endangered species. Long-standing and emerging threats within South Africa, and in the African region have resulted in dramatic declines in the abundance of elasmobranchs over the past several decades. Their role as top predators and their life-history characteristics (low fecundity, slow growth, late reproductive maturity) makes them extremely vulnerable to exploitation and other anthropogenic pressures that degrade marine ecosystems. Both fisheries and spatial management measures are required to address these declines, however, owing to their wide-ranging spatial distributions and movement characteristics, they have been overlooked as focal species in the designation of marine protected areas (MPAs). We propose that many species can benefit from spatial protection when they congregate in mating areas and nursery habitats. To identify essential habitats for elasmobranchs, a systematic conservation plan (SCP) is being developed for South Africa. We first compiled distribution data from elasmobranch species within the continental exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Data were sourced from research institutions, online repositories, scientific literature, and expert workshops. We modelled the distribution of each species within the EEZ, including when possible seasonal distribution shifts. In the last step (currently underway), conservation planning software (prioritizr R) will identify focal areas for protection based on the modelled distributions. Spatial conservation targets will be defined for each species and areas important for critical life-history stages will be prioritised for protection. The representation of these targets will be assessed against existing MPAs. The outcome of the SCP will identify new areas of essential habitat for elasmobranch species and advise on the additional 30% by 2030. The extent of data collection, the distribution maps and preliminary results from the planning phase will be presented.

Sex and size influence the spatiotemporal distribution of white sharks, with implications for interactions with fisheries and spatial management in the southwest Indian Ocean
12:34PM - 12:39PM
Presented by :
Victoria Goodall, Institute For Coastal And Marine Research, Nelson Mandela University
Co-authors :
Alison Kock, South African National Parks
Amanda Lombard, Nelson Mandela University
Ryan Daly, South African Association For Marine Biological Research
Michael Meÿer, SAWDN
Ryan Johnson, Blue Wilderness Shark Research Unit
Chris Fischer, Ocearch
Pieter Koen, Western Cape Department Of Agriculture
Dylan Irion, University Of Cape Town
Enrico Genari, Oceans Research Institute
Alison Towner, Dyer Island Conservation Trust
Oliver Jewell, Dyer Island Conservation Trust
Charlene Da Silva, Department Of Forestry, Fisheries And The Environment
Matt Dicken, KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board
Malcolm Smale, Nelson Mandela University
Theoni Photopoulou, University Of St Andrews

Human activities in the oceans, specifically fisheries, increase the extinction risk of marine megafauna populations. Given that fisheries management measures and spatial zonation may be required to reduce the extinction risk of a species, we analysed the movement patterns of 33 white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) satellite-tagged in South Africa. We investigated the influence of size, sex, and season on movement patterns and the spatial and temporal overlap with longline and gillnet fisheries and marine protected areas (MPAs) between 2012 and 2015. Transboundary movements between South Africa and Mozambique were frequent. A hidden Markov model identified two movement states ('resident' and 'transient') and investigated the effect of individual and temporal covariates on the transition probabilities between states. The KwaZulu-Natal shark nets and drumlines reported the highest white shark catches, emphasising the need to combine spatiotemporal shark movement and fishing effort with reliable catch records to assess risks to shark populations more accurately. White shark exposure by movement state, sex, and maturity status to shark nets and drumlines corresponded with the catch composition of that fishery, providing support for a meaningful exposure risk estimate. White sharks spent significantly more time in MPAs than expected by chance, likely due to increased prey abundance or less disturbance. Improved conservation and management of white sharks in South Africa could be achieved by reducing the number of nets and drumlines in KwaZulu-Natal, finding alternative non-lethal solutions to beach safety, increasing the observer coverage in longline fisheries, a centralised database of white shark mortality, and continued monitoring of movement patterns with existing and emerging threats.

Question and Answer Session with Moderated Discussion Part II: Putting Marine Conservation into Marine Spatial Planning
12:39PM - 12:49PM
Presented by :
Amanda Lombard, Nelson Mandela University
Kaylee Smit, University Of Cape Town
Co-authors :
Aurore Counilh, Nature's Valley Trust
Minke Witteveen, Nelson Mandela University
Gwenith Penry, Nelson Mandela University
Nina Faure Beaulieu, WildTrust - WildOceans
Victoria Goodall, Institute For Coastal And Marine Research, Nelson Mandela University
The Algoa Bay Project: Collaboration for marine spatial planning
12:49PM - 12:54PM
Presented by :
Hannah Truter, Nelson Mandela University
Co-authors :
Amanda Lombard, Nelson Mandela University
Victoria Goodall, Nelson Mandela University
Rosemary Dorington, Rhodes University
Bernadette Snow, University Of Strathclyde

In 2014, the South African government launched "Operation Phakisa", an initiative to develop the Blue Economy by "unlocking the economic potential of South Africa's oceans". The focus of Operation Phakisa was on the "implementation of an overarching, integrated ocean governance framework for sustainable growth of the ocean economy that will maximise socio-economic benefits while ensuring adequate ocean environmental protection" by 2019. Since then, the Marine Spatial Planning Act (2018) has been published providing a multistage approach to develop a marine spatial plan (MSP) for the South African ocean territories. Marine spatial plans will be prepared sequentially for each region, with each completed plan providing opportunities to improve (or review) subsequent plans that together, will be consolidated into the completed, national MSP. Since this will be South Africa's first experience of MSP, the first regional plan will be important in that it will serve to fine-tune the process for the subsequent planning process. The south coast of South Africa, which incorporates Algoa Bay, has been identified for the first MSP. The Algoa Bay Project aims to develop a local-scale MSP for Algoa Bay that will inform the development of MSPs for the four larger areas that will ultimately be consolidated into the national MSP. This project uses a transdisciplinary approach that has built capacity across the social-ecological system in Algoa Bay, including methods for stakeholder engagement, participatory mapping, systems modelling, and scenario planning. A draft MSP will be published by the end of 2022 with the intention to inform the national process.

An exploratory system dynamics model to support ecosystem-based marine planning in Algoa Bay, South Africa
12:54PM - 12:59PM
Presented by :
Estee Vermeulen, Nelson Mandela University
Co-authors :
Amanda Lombard, Nelson Mandela University

Marine spatial planning (MSP) has been recommended as a suitable planning process towards facilitating a transition to a sustainable oceans economy whilst conserving the health of the marine environment. It has emerged among other integrated ocean management planning tools, as a sensible approach to balance socio-ecological objectives among multiple uses of the marine space. This has been seen to be particularly challenging considering the multiple objectives and perspectives arising from multiple interconnections between humans and the health of the marine environment. Several decision support tools have been developed to support the MSP process, however, there seems to be a niche to develop tools to evaluate the temporal trends of marine activities, as well as the cause-and-effect relationships and feedback among components in a complex socio-ecological marine system. Thus, a holistic systems analysis approach and system dynamics modelling method was recognised as well-suited, owing to the method's strengths in evaluating complexities and feedback among multiple constituent components over time. This subsequently led to the development of the Algoa Marine Systems Analysis Tool (AlgoaMSAT). The AlgoaMSAT provides a holistic management framework that integrates the complex dynamics of multiple marine uses and the marine environment through feedback loops. Secondly, it serves as a quantitative model, to simulate policy and management interventions, in alternative scenarios, to meet the overarching goal of an ecosystem-based MSP process, which is to conserve a healthy marine environment, such as to sustain the functioning of and support the growth of marine uses in the bay. This study demonstrates the importance of understanding the complexities, constituting the feedback and changing dynamics over time, and hence provides a proof of concept of how system dynamics modelling can be applied to support ecosystem-based MSP in order to sustain a healthy ocean.

Designing a marine spatial plan for Algoa Bay, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
01:00PM - 01:05PM
Presented by :
Anne Lemahieu, Nelson Mandela University
Co-authors :
Hannah Truter, Nelson Mandela University
Bernadette Snow, University Of Strathclyde
Amanda Lombard, Nelson Mandela University

Marine spatial planning (MSP) has become a popular tool over the past two decades in response to the emergence and increased intensity of anthropogenic uses in marine environments. Grounded in an ecosystem-based approach, MSP processes are designed to be inclusive and adaptive in achieving their objectives to allocate the marine space in a way that reduces user conflict, while ensuring that the ecological, economic, and social objectives are met. In South Africa, the Marine Spatial Planning Act 16 of 2018 assented to 29 April 2019 provides a legal framework for the implementation of a marine spatial plan in national waters. Algoa Bay in the Eastern Cape Province is home to a wide range of uses and is also the most densely monitored area in the southern hemisphere. As such, it constitutes the perfect pilot site for the design of a national framework and for the first implementation of an MSP process in South Africa. Started in 2018, the Algoa Bay transdisciplinary project aims at providing a framework for the establishment of a marine spatial plan. Set in two phases, the project is now in phase II of its development and focuses on covering the social dimension of the Algoa Bay socio-ecological system. In this presentation, we present the methodological framework which revolves around the use of GIS and scenario building. We then present the state of progress of the spatial database that will underpin the MSP process. The difficulties inherent in collecting data and making them spatially explicit are discussed.

Literature review: Forecasted predictor variables of anthropogenic environmental stressors
01:05PM - 01:10PM
Presented by :
Alejandra Vargas-Fonseca, Nelson Mandela University
Co-authors :
Amanda Lombard, Nelson Mandela University

The transdisciplinary MARISCO (MArine Research and Innovation for Sustainable management of Coasts and Oceans) project will develop, merge and synthesize interdisciplinary, global knowledge for understanding the consequences of human actions for coastal and ocean sustainability and produce strategies and tools for effective management. In order to understand the cumulative impact on natural systems and global change, a literature review was undertaken to identify forecasted predictor variables of anthropogenic environmental stressors. More than 300 papers published between 1999 and 2021 were reviewed with a range of methods employed. On a global scale, the most common predictor variables were related to land use, sea-level rise and greenhouse effects. These were usually forecasted up to the year 2050, 2100 or 2300. More than half of the reviewed papers had a fine spatial resolution below 0.5°. The majority of the reviewed articles were published in journals with impact factor above 4, such as Nature Communications, Climatic Change and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Question and Answer Session with Moderated Discussion Part III: Putting Marine Conservation into Marine Spatial Planning
01:10PM - 01:30PM
Presented by :
Amanda Lombard, Nelson Mandela University
Kaylee Smit, University Of Cape Town
Co-authors :
Talicia Pillay, Council For Geoscience
Sinothando Shibe, University Of KwaZulu Natal
Jodie Reed, Independent
Aurore Counilh, Nature's Valley Trust
Minke Witteveen, Nelson Mandela University
Gwenith Penry, Nelson Mandela University
Nina Faure Beaulieu, WildTrust - WildOceans
Victoria Goodall, Institute For Coastal And Marine Research, Nelson Mandela University
Hannah Truter, Nelson Mandela University
Estee Vermeulen, Nelson Mandela University
Anne Lemahieu, Nelson Mandela University
Alejandra Vargas-Fonseca, Nelson Mandela University
11:30AM - 01:30PM
Virtual Online Symposium - Parallel Session
Session Twenty-Three: Mainstreaming Biodiversity Databases into Decision Making for Conservation Impact in Africa
Format : Parallel Session | Special Session | Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion

Solving real-world problems needs real-world data. Africa has the lion's share of challenges, but does it even have a lion database? Never has it been so important to generate evidence to guide development and conservation efforts. This special session, in collaboration with the Endangered Wildlife Trust, will profile impactful African biodiversity databases, created in response to decision-making needs, and discuss how existing databases can be made more useful, through greater standardisation, coordination, and communication across institutions, and a better culture of sharing data.

Africa is on a pathway towards massive change over the next century, due partly to a burgeoning human population, and exacerbated by climate change. These pressures increasingly impact Africa's rich biodiversity and its ability to underpin human wellbeing. Never has it been so important to generate evidence to safeguard the continent's wildlife.

By exploring ways to make biodiversity databases more fit-for-purpose, opportunities for robust and informed decisions about natural resources in Africa are created. Effective databases also supply a solid foundation for measuring progress, adapting strategies, reducing threats and pressures on wildlife, and potentially improving the status of species and ecosystems. Databases have the capability to guide conservation action through mainstreaming critical information into decision-making across all levels (e.g., business, government, funders). Case studies presented within this session incorporate databases created in response to end-user needs, as well as those that address specific conservation threats or knowledge gaps. Speakers, and the subsequent discussion, will explore the challenges and opportunities of generating and using biodiversity data and will identify clear lessons to make databases more useful. Critical issues to be discussed include data standardisation to allow better integration of data across databases and sharing of data to open data sharing platforms, data ownership, and working towards a culture of sharing data for the greater good.

Introduction and overview

Dr. Harriet Davies-MostertEndangered Wildlife Trust
Global Biodiversity Information Facility and the Post-2020 Framework

Dr. Andrew RodriguesGlobal Biodiversity Information Facility
Advancing conservation outcomes through the data revolution. Efforts of the South African National Biodiversity Institute - Global Biodiversity Information Facility and the African Coordinating Mechanism towards sustainable development

Fatima Parker-AllieSouth African National Biodiversity Institute
Counting cats and where they roam - the African Lion Database as a tool for the effective conservation of African lions (Panthera leo)

Samantha NicholsonEndangered Wildlife Trust
Sharing data on threats to wildlife across Africa: The African Wildlife Poisoning Database

Dr. Lizanne RoxburghEndangered Wildlife Trust
Utilising national-scale biodiversity data to make the environmental impact assessment process more robust: Lessons learned from the compilation of the animal sensitivity layer of the environmental screening tool

Dr. Oliver CowanEndangered Wildlife Trust
The Central Incident Register – a 25-year partnership between the Endangered Wildlife Trust and Eskom

Oscar MohaleEndangered Wildlife Trust

Direct Zoom link (only use if the Join Live button above fails) - https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86885245657

Session Twenty-Three Introduction
11:30AM - 11:40AM
Presented by :
Harriet Davies-Mostert, Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT)
Global Biodiversity Information Facility and the Post-2020 Framework
11:40AM - 11:52AM
Presented by :
Andrew Rodrigues, Global Biodiversity Information Facility

The Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) is an international network and research infrastructure supporting the publication and use of free and open primary biodiversity data. Globally, the GBIF network has published over 1.8 billion records on where and when species have been found and plays an integral role in the monitoring of progress towards the achievement of international biodiversity targets. In 2022, Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity will agree on a new Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework that will set the future agenda for achieving the Convention's 2050 vision of "living in harmony with nature". Importantly, the new monitoring framework will be designed to ensure that elements within it will allow for effective biodiversity monitoring at both the global and national levels, and GBIF-mediated data are critical to a number of indicators within this new framework. In the last five years, the amount of African biodiversity data available through GBIF has doubled as a result of GBIF's Biodiversity Information for Development programme, and this data is filling both taxonomic and geographic gaps on the continent. This new data, and the data that will be published through GBIF as a result of the increased capacity on the continent, will provide more effective biodiversity reporting from Africa within the new Post-2020 Framework.

Advancing conservation outcomes through the data revolution. Efforts of the South African National Biodiversity Institute - Global Biodiversity Information Facility and the African Coordinating Mechanism towards sustainable development
11:53AM - 12:05PM
Presented by :
Fatima Parker-Allie, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)

In the last two decades, new technologies (like mass digitisation, next-generation sequencing, mobile-cellular applications, the "internet of things", and citizen scientist data) have created an exponential increase in the volume and types of data available, creating unprecedented possibilities for society, conservation efforts, and decision making. Biodiversity informatics tools and techniques, like the GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility) Knowledge Management Platform, have become an enabler for the data-science-policy value chain, thus supporting effective decision-making outcomes. From monitoring biodiversity data and priorities, developing species and ecosystem assessments, developing biodiversity scenarios through analysis and modelling, and effecting change through impacting governmental policy and supporting the Sustainable Development Goals. The South African National Biodiversity (SANBI)-GBIF, the South African node of the GBIF, aims to strengthen both national and regional efforts in data mobilisation, capacity development, and biodiversity informatics endeavours, and initiatives such as the African Coordinating Mechanism. SANBI-GBIF has supported the mobilisation of over 30 million primary biodiversity data records by South African stakeholders. Here, developing capacity in the efficient mobilisation, management, publishing, and use supports national strategies, which feed into international initiatives, including the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, Convention on Biological Diversity Post-2020 Framework, United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the Sustainable Development Goals, which all require relevant, reliable, and accurate data.

The African Lion Database
12:05PM - 12:17PM
Presented by :
Samantha Nicholson, Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT)
Co-authors :
Lizanne Roxburgh, Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT)
Harriet Davies-Mostert, Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT)

African lions (Panthera leo) once roamed widely across most of Africa and even into southern Europe. Since historic times, lion distribution has contracted by almost 94% and their total population size, which once exceeded 200,000 lions, is now down to ~20,000 individuals. However, accurate and robust estimates for various subpopulations currently exist siloed in various research and government institutions and tend not to contribute to a broader understanding of the declines or have conservation impact. To address this, the Endangered Wildlife Trust, together with the broader conservation community, established the African Lion Database (ALD) in October 2018 under the auspices of the IUCN Species Survival Commission Cat Specialist Group. The overarching goal of the ALD project is to create a platform that consolidates historic and present population and distribution data for lions across the continent. The vision is to establish a database as an instrument for lion conservation and management by facilitating the sharing of information and data between stakeholders. A single database that consolidates such data for the species will be able to provide improved conservation impact because the more we understand where and why declines are happening, the better we can implement conservation actions to conserve a species. The ALD currently has over 700 population records from 20 countries and almost 20,000 distribution records. However, there are still many key lion areas and strongholds that are not represented in the ALD, and efforts are underway to continue to engage with lion researchers about the ALD, and fill the data gaps. This talk will present why the ALD is important for lion conservation and how researchers and governments can work together and submit their data to make a valuable contribution to the ALD.

Sharing data on threats to wildlife across Africa: The African Wildlife Poisoning Database
12:18PM - 12:30PM
Presented by :
Lizanne Roxburgh, Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT)
Co-authors :
Andre Botha, Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT)
Darcy Ogada, The Peregrine Fund
Dominic Henry, Endangered Wildlife Trust

The African Wildlife Poisoning Database was established in 2012 and is jointly managed by the Endangered Wildlife Trust and The Peregrine Fund under the auspices of the Vulture Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission. The database was started in response to declines in vulture populations across the continent, to better understand the impact of poisoning events on populations, where a single poisoning event can kill hundreds of vultures, as well as to inform interventions to reduce and prevent poisoning, and best responses to poisoning events. Our aim is to capture data of all wildlife poisoning events that happen in Africa, from current and past events, through engagement with an extensive network of organisations and individuals throughout the continent and also by means of a user-friendly app that simplifies electronic capture of such data. The database now houses data from 1,163 poisoning events, dating back to 1961, documenting the mortality of at least 40,000 individual animals, including at least 15,000 vultures. This grim situation has promoted the establishment of several national and international poison working groups, and a growing awareness of the scale and seriousness of the problem. The database has evolved from unstandardized spreadsheets on individual computers, through various iterations, to a PostgreSQL database hosted on a cloud server. This has opened up greater opportunities for integration with other systems, such as ArcGIS Online, and has also allowed us to develop a live data dashboard, where we can share summary data from across the continent, while at the same time respecting any embargoes or sensitivities on the raw data.

Utilising national-scale biodiversity data to make the environmental impact assessment process more robust: Lessons learned from the compilation of the animal sensitivity layer of the environmental screening tool
12:30PM - 12:42PM
Presented by :
Oliver Cowan, Endangered Wildlife Trust

The environmental screening tool is a web-enabled application developed under instruction from South Africa's Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment to fulfil Regulation 16(1)(v) of the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations 2014, as amended, whereby a screening report is required to accompany any application for environmental authorisation. Since October 2019, this report must, by law, be incorporated into the scoping phase of all environmental impact assessments (EIAs). The tool contains various themes, each of which consists of a national-scale spatial dataset. We were tasked with the compilation of the animal sensitivity layer, containing distribution data for terrestrial vertebrate species of conservation concern. This required the acquisition of data from a wide variety of sources and in several different formats. Furthermore, the layer utilises species distribution modelling which uses species occurrence records, combined with multiple environmental variables, to quantify and predict areas of suitable habitat. In this presentation, we discuss the process by which data were obtained and explore issues surrounding the lack of standardization across biodiversity datasets. In addition, we detail how the data was developed to be incorporated into the screening tool, and how the outputs are important in prioritizing future biodiversity surveys. Our findings are highly relevant as the data informing the screening tool's output needs to be updated regularly to remain scientifically robust. Moreover, countries who are looking at creating screening tools, or something analogous, of their own may learn valuable lessons from our experiences.

The Central Incident Register – a 25-year partnership between the Endangered Wildlife Trust and Eskom
12:43PM - 12:55PM
Presented by :
Oscar Mohale, Endangered Wildlife Trust
Co-authors :
Lizanne Roxburgh, Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT)
Lourens Leeuwner, Endangered Wildlife Trust

The Central Incident Register (CIR) is a database that houses negative interactions (incidents) between wildlife and power infrastructure in South Africa. It was created through a partnership between the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) and Eskom that started in 1996 and is ongoing. The information is used to identify priority areas for mitigation using both reactive and proactive mitigation strategies. Some recent developments to the database included a data collection app that allows incident data to be captured directly in the field, soon to be linked to an online database. The online platform will also allow Eskom employees direct access to the data, creating greater transparency and leading to improvements in mitigation. Over 3,880 incidents have been recorded in the database, totalling 12,166 mortalities. 85% of mortalities were on distribution lines (≤132 kV), 14% on transmission lines (≥132 kV), and the rest were on common or shared servitudes. These lines mostly belong to Eskom; less than 5% are private or municipal. Different stakeholders including Eskom, the public, VulPro, the EWT, and other conservation NGOs submit incident data for inclusion in the database. Mortalities include 198 bird, mammal, and reptile species. Animals succumbed to mortalities and injuries through collision, electrocution, and entanglement. Species with most mortalities include blue crane (Grus paradisea), Cape vulture (Gyps coprotheres), Ludwig's bustard (Neotis ludwigii), African white-backed vulture (Gyps africanus), white stork (Ciconia ciconia), and greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus). In general, species on the IUCN regional Red List represent 69% of incidents. The database is linked to decision tools that the partnership uses to prioritise incidents. Incidents that are prioritised are tracked using innovative time-based key performance indicators (KPIs). We will show how these KPIs have helped improve the business over time, while at the same time reducing mortalities in some focal species.

Question and Answer Session with Moderated Discussion: Mainstreaming Biodiversity Databases into Decision Making for Conservation Impact in Africa
12:55PM - 01:30PM
Presented by :
Harriet Davies-Mostert, Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT)
Co-authors :
Andrew Rodrigues, Global Biodiversity Information Facility
Fatima Parker-Allie, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Samantha Nicholson, Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT)
Lizanne Roxburgh, Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT)
Oliver Cowan, Endangered Wildlife Trust
Oscar Mohale, Endangered Wildlife Trust
01:45PM - 02:30PM
Virtual Online Symposium - Plenary Session
Closing Session: The Conservation Symposium 2021 - Celebrations, Reflections and Awards Ceremony
Format : Plenary Session | Moderated Discussion


This brief closing session will reflect on the messages of hope and inspiration emerging from the symposium. This will ensure that we depart not only more knowledgeable and better equipped but also feeling energised and inspired to carry on with the hard work of conservation. We will also acknowledge and award the top three presenters and best student presentation as voted for by you, the delegates, during the symposium.

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