Cross-scale and social-ecological changes constitute main threats to private land conservation in South Africa
Conserving biodiversity in the long term will depend in part on the capacity of Protected Areas (PAs) to cope with cross-scale, social-ecological disturbances and changes, which are becoming more frequent in a highly connected world. Direct threats to biodiversity within PAs and their interactions with broader-scale threats are both likely to vary with PA spatial and management characteristics (e.g., location, dependence on ecotourism revenues, governmental support).
Private Land Conservation Areas (PLCAs) are interesting case study systems for assessing cross-scale threats to PAs and their determinants. Despite the growing number of PLCAs around the world, there is considerable uncertainty regarding the long-term capacity of these privately owned areas to conserve biodiversity. Their potential impermanence is commonly raised as a key concern. To better understand the threats to which different types of PLCAs are likely to be vulnerable, we asked 112 PLCA landholders in South Africa what they perceived as the top threats to their PLCAs. Landowners identified direct threats to the biodiversity within their PLCAs (e.g., poaching, extreme weather, inappropriate fire regimes, alien species) as well as describing broader socio-economic threats (e.g., regional crime, national legislation and politics, global economic recessions), which were noted to interact across scales.
We found support for the hypothesis that patterns in the perceived multi-scale threats to a PLCA correspond with its management and spatial characteristics, including its remoteness, dependence on ecotourism or hunting revenues, and richness of megafaunal species. Understanding the threats to which different PLCAs may be vulnerable is useful for developing more nuanced, targeted strategies to build PLCA resilience to these threats (for example, by strengthening the capacity of self-funded PLCAs to cope with the threat of economic downturns through more innovative financial instruments or diversified revenue streams).
Our findings highlight the importance of considering interactions between broad-scale socio-economic changes and direct threats to biodiversity, which can influence the resilience of PAs in ways that are not anticipated by more traditional, discipline-specific consideration of direct threats to the biodiversity within their boundaries.
Research news | 2021-12-08
Getting a more complete picture of our impact on nature
New metric can help investors, companies, cities, and governments track their environmental impacts beyond greenhouse gas emissions
Research news | 2021-12-02
Pushing the frontiers of social-ecological resilience
A new paper shows how resilience thinking has evolved further over the past 15 years, and gives three examples of this
Research news | 2021-12-02
New book on how system dynamics thinking can be applied to economics
For everyone interested in how economies work, a book grounded in systems thinking
Research news | 2021-11-25
Nine ways to produce more sustainable and affordable blue food
Greater attention should be paid to improving the productivity and environmental performance of affordable and accessible aquatic species
Research news | 2021-11-24
Carl Folke awarded the Prince Albert I Grand Medal 2021
Praised for his pioneering work in resilience thinking and sustainability of the ocean
Research news | 2021-11-23
Resilient futures in the Bahamas
New study on Andros Island in the Bahamas shows the power of using scenarios for sustainable development planning