CapeNature’s Stewardship programme and Conservation Detection Dog (CDD) project were named winners at the Mail & Guardian’s Greening the Future awards.
The Conservation Stewardship programme was the winner in the category Biodiversity Stewardship, while the Conservation Detection Dog Project won the category Species Conservation for its work in conserving the geometric tortoise, Psammobates geometricus.
Says CapeNature CEO, Dr Razeena Omar: “This is an outstanding achievement and a clear indication that CapeNature is a leader in conservation in South Africa. The work done by our stewardship programme is vital in the Western Cape as we are able to work together with landowners who now have the opportunity to formally contribute to national conservation targets for threatened species and ecosystems and ensure better management of natural resources and ecosystem services.
“Our Conservation Detection Dog project is also significant as the field of conservation detection is still new South Africa and this project is the first live target detection work of its kind ever done in the country.”
Anton Bredell, the minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning in the Western Cape, congratulated CapeNature on its achievements.
“Generally a lot of the hard work institutions like CapeNature do, goes unnoticed and it is always welcome to get some recognition, especially because acknowledgements like these are useful indicators of whether we are on the right track or not in terms of the work we do.”
CapeNature’s Stewardship programme ensures that privately owned areas with high biodiversity value receive conservation status and are linked to a network of other conservation areas in the landscape. The programme expands biodiversity conservation by encouraging commitment to, and implementation of, good biodiversity management practice, on privately owned land, in such a way that the private landowner becomes an empowered decision maker.
CapeNature’s overarching stewardship programme has resulted in the signing of 113 stewardship agreements since its inception in 2003. This is the most by any province in the country and totals over 113 320 ha of private and communal land which is being conserved.
The Conservation Detection Dog (CDD) project won in the category Species Conservation for its work in conserving the geometric tortoise, Psammobates geometricus. The geometric tortoise is South Africa’s highest conservation priority tortoise species (IUCN listing: critically endangered) and one of the world’s top 3 most endangered tortoise species. CapeNature is the mandated provincial authority leading the conservation management of this species. In order to conserve this species, vital information about the size of the population and its presence or absence in suitable habitat is required. Obtaining this information is labour intensive and costly hence an increasingly limiting factor. CapeNature initiated a project in 2012 to investigate the use of CDDs to assist with geometric tortoise surveys. CapeNature successfully developed and deploys a CDD team in field and has partnered to enable expertise from the USA to build capacity and assist on focused priorities.