The Landscape Conservation Programme is dedicated to the conservation of South Africa’s indigenous bird species and their most important sites and ecosystems, based on scientific research, management and stakeholder engagement. BirdLife South Africa’s Landscape Conservation Programme has a staff complement of seven permanent employees, two interns and several contractors.
A focused conservation strategy will guide the Landscape Conservation Programme’s (LCP) work over the next five-year period (2020 – 2025). At a global level, the work undertaken by the LCP speaks to the four pillars set out by BirdLife International, i.e. to save species with the objectives to prevent the extinction of threatened species, to keep common birds common, as well as to promote ecological sustainability and positive change for people. The LCP’s vision is to conserve diverse and sustainable bird populations, through the preservation and protection of the most critical habitats for birds, recognising the crucial role that birds play in maintaining balanced terrestrial ecosystems.
Our mission is to identify, prevent and/or reverse negative trends in terrestrial birds and the ecosystems which support them through science- and community-based conservation initiatives.
Where needed, sound scientific research and/or monitoring are undertaken on a selected number of threatened terrestrial birds in order to determine reasons for their conservation status and measures needed to reverse negative population trends.
The primary threats to birds and other biodiversity, both in South Africa and abroad, are habitat loss and habitat degradation. The main factors underlying habitat loss and degradation include alien invasive species, overgrazing, agricultural and industrial expansion, incorrect fire regimes, pollution, alterations to water courses and declining water quality (Marnewick et al. 2015, Taylor et al. 2017).
There are a number of key challenges that contribute to the above threats. Approximately 60% of the Important Bird & Biodiveristy Areas (IBA) network is unprotected, leaving these sites vulnerable to habitat transformation and mismanagement. Habitats within many IBAs are poorly managed, leading to habitat degradation, especially in unprotected sites.
Biodiversity stewardship provides the most effective and efficient tools and mechanisms to conserve privately owned land in IBAs. Through biodiversity stewardship, the LCP and former IBA Programme have played leading roles in the declaration of 100 000 hectares of privately protected areas (as legislated in the Protected Areas Act), and an additional 30 000 hectares of conservation areas across South Africa.
The LCP currently has several focus areas across South Africa where our conservation efforts are focused to generate maximum impact for the conservation of sites and species.
These focus areas are:
- The Grasslands: conservation and stewardship work is currently being conducted in the Upper Wilge, Sneeuberg and Greater Lakenvlei Protected Environments with focus species including the several threatened, endemic passerines (Yellow-breasted Pipit, Rudd’s & Botha’s Larks), Secretarybird, Southern Bald Ibis and the Critically Endangered White-winged Flufftail.
- The Western Cape Estuaries: the project looks to formally protect and improve conservation action at 12 priority estuaries within IBAs in the Western Cape and monitor the habitat quality and bird populations within these sites using biodiversity stewardship.
- Northern Zululand: with the declaration of the Zululand IBA in 2019, more effort is being put into conservation efforts within the broader landscape through the implementation of a Vulture Safe Zone, avitourism development and coastal forest restoration to benefit the unique avifauna found in this biodiversity hotspot such as the Critically Endangered Southern Banded Snake Eagle.
The LCP is broken into two sub-programmes which focus on carrying out our important conservation work across the terrestrial landscape:
- The Protecting Ecosystems sub-programme is focused on identifying, securing and assisting with the management of the most important sites and ecosystems for our land birds in South Africa.
- The Preventing Extinctions sub-programme is focused on conducting research and conservation measures which benefit flagship species and assist in mitigating threats which pose a significant risk to these species and their habitats.To find out more click the links below.