Effective conservaton of amphibians and reptiles in the Greater Cederberg Biodiversity Corridor

Existing protected areas are often too small and isolated to maintain viable ecosystems and evolutionary processes. In such circumstances, conservation efforts must focus on linking major sites across wide geographic areas in order to maintain large-scale processes and ensure the maintenance of a high level of biodiversity. Such networks of protected areas and landscape management systems are biodiversity corridors. The Greater Cederberg Biodiversity Corridor (GCBC) is one of the corridors proposed for the Cape Floristic Region (CFR). To ensure that the Cederberg Corridor will make a significant contribution to the conservation of the amphibians and reptiles in the CFR, a detailed survey of the greater Cederberg area is first required. The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) is funding a multi-partner project on the effective conservation of amphibians and reptiles in the Greater Cederberg Biodiversity Corridor. This project aims to partner organisations, the private sector and civil society in generating information on the amphibians and reptiles of the proposed corridor. It will not only focus on the generation of new information, but also on the collation, analysis, interpretation, maintenance, and dissemination of data on the amphibians and reptiles in order to provide strategic input into design and management plans for the corridor. The Cederberg area is one of the most popular ecotourism destinations in the Western Cape. The project will provide strategic information on amphibians and reptiles to the ecotourism industry and will allow the effective transfer of information to ecotourists. The project's primary focus falls within the CEPF strategic direction to support civil society in the establishment of protected areas and management plans for important CFR corridors, and specifically to identify important and priority landholdings within the Cederberg corridor requiring conservation action.

ABOUT THE PROJECT

•  The project is a multi-partner project funded by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF).

•  The project's primary focus falls within the CEPF strategic direction to support civil society involvement in the establishment of protected areas and management plans in Cape Floristic Region (CFR) biodiversity corridors.

•  The long-term goal of the project is to ensure that the proposed Greater Cederberg Biodiversity corridor will, via civil society involvement, make a significant contribution to the conservation of biodiversity in the CFR in general and to the conservation of the herpetofauna (amphibians and reptiles) in particular.

•  The targeted conservation outcomes of the project are that:

•  Areas of herpetological importance, in terms of both pattern and process, are protected from irresponsible development.

•  Stakeholders and civil society have a raised awareness and positive attitude towards the conservation of amphibians and reptiles.

•  Herpetofaunal elements are used as value-adding features at/in ecotourism destinations/activities.

•  The project purpose is to increase the understanding of and appreciation for the important ecological role that amphibians and reptiles play in the various ecosystems of the CFR, and particularly those of the Greater Cederberg Biodiversity Corridor.

•  The outputs of the project will be:

•  An information pack (brochure and website) on the megareserve amphibians and reptiles. Links with all ecotourism websites of the region will be established. A comprehensive and up-to-date database (including distribution maps) on the distribution of the amphibians and reptiles of the region. The database will form part of the existing, combined database of the US and WCNCB, which is permanently maintained and accessible on the internet. A conservation analysis of the herpetofauna of the region, the results of which will be utilised as strategic input for the design of the megareserve, as well as for a conservation management plan for the megareserve (not only that of the statutory conservation areas, but also conservancies, private nature reserves and other private conservation initiatives).

•  Biological profiles for threatened amphibian and reptile species and for selected species with ecotourism potential.

The herpetofauna webpage will be permanently maintained by the Western Cape Nature Conservation Board and Stellenbosch University and will be expanded to cover the whole CFR. Without cost, the herpetofauna database for the Greater Cederberg Biodiversity Corridor in particular, and the CFR in general, will continue to expand via civil society input. The role of herpetofauna as a value-adding resource in ecotourism will continue to develop as more and more links are created to the herpetofauna website. An increase in awareness will have long-term benefits for conservation in the Greater Cederberg Biodiversity Corridor, as well as the CFR in general.

THE TEAM

Project leader:

Prof le Fras Mouton

Co project leader:

Dr Ernst Baard

Project coordinator:

Dahné du Toit

Public relations officer:

Mandi Alblas

Data manager:

Andrew Turner

Collaborating scientist:

Atherton de Villiers

 

 

 
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