Conserving Biodiversity on South Africa’s Privately-Owned Grasslands
South Africa’s Biodiversity Stewardship Initiative and Protected Areas Act are programs designed to help protect threatened species and provide other conservation benefits. Private grasslands are an important priority for conservation. This project uses in-person surveys to assess the experiences of grassland farmers who have enrolled land as a Protected Area. Primary motivations include conservation; concerns about local mining activity; and other reasons, including potential financial benefits and intergenerational concerns. Farmers typically find that the required management plan helps them improve their grazing and makes their operation more sustainable, and creates conservation improvements. About two-thirds of the farmers who joined at least in part to prevent mining thought that the program had been effective in that regard. Farmers do not feel that the program has resulted in any adverse effects on their operation, and are happy to recommend the program to others. Many of them do have concerns about a lack of ongoing support for their stewardship activities, especially those farming in Mpumalanga Province.