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Understanding the local biodiversity and open space strategies in two South African cities

Quraisha Bux, Department of Environmental and Geographical Science, University of Cape Town
Pippin Anderson, Department of Environmental and Geographical Science, University of Cape Town
Patrick J O'Farrell, FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, DST/NRF Centre of Excellence, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cape Town


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South Africa is the third most biologically diverse country in the world. Urban living places pressure on this biodiversity and the ecosystem services that flow from it. Local governments are now internationally recognized as the level of government that is key to securing long-term global sustainability. The cities of Cape Town and Durban in South Africa have each developed their own biodiversity and open space conservation strategies to protect the remaining biodiversity within their municipal boundaries. Our aim was to explore the local biodiversity and open space conservation strategies in these two cities, with a view to understanding the informants and emerging forms of urban conservation in these cities in light of their variable biophysical templates and settlement histories. The results reveal that both cities are facing biodiversity loss and that multiple interlinked factors play a role in the development and relative success of conservation plans. These factors include the local context, biophysical templates, city histories, social aspects that determine how these plans emerge and evolve, contemporary governance structures, and locally relevant pressures. Biodiversity conservation in South African cities will continue to face many challenges, and our study suggests that solutions will need to be city specific.

Key words

biodiversity; cities; conservation; local government; urbanization

Copyright © 2021 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087