Guarding the Grasslands of Gauteng through biodiversity stewardship

Endangered Wildlife Trust
Published: 16 November 2020
Last edited: 16 November 2020
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Gauteng Province is a hub for South Africa’s economic growth. Still, the urbanisation and population growth in the province places significant stress on its natural resources. The supportive ecological infrastructure is under threat, and it is necessary to implement conservation measures now. Protected area expansion is a priority in Gauteng, and in 2015 the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD) partnered with the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) to establish the Gauteng Biodiversity Stewardship Programme (GBSP),  funded by the WWF Nedbank Green Trust. The GBSP was intended to catalyse the implementation of biodiversity stewardship (BDS) in Gauteng by increasing capacity within the GDARD and develop robust and relevant institutional structures for the sustainability of BDS in the province. The GBSP target was to publish the intent to declare 5,000 ha of private land as protected under the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act, 57 of 2003, within three years.


East and South Africa
Scale of implementation
Connective infrastructure, networks and corridors
Grassland ecosystems
Green spaces (parks, gardens, urban forests)
Temperate grassland, savanna, shrubland
Urban ecosystem and build environment
Connectivity / transboundary conservation
Ecosystem services
Habitat fragmentation and degradation
Invasive alien species
Land management
Protected area governance
Protected area management planning
Science and research
Species management
Loss of Biodiversity
Conflicting uses / cumulative impacts
Ecosystem loss
Invasive species
Unsustainable harvesting incl. Overfishing
Lack of access to long-term funding
Sustainable development goals
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 15 – Life on land
SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
Target 4: Sustainable production and consumption
Target 5: Habitat loss halved or reduced
Target 7: Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry
Target 9: Invasive alien species prevented and controlled
Target 10: Ecosystems vulnerable to climate change
Target 11: Protected areas
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 17: Biodiversity strategies and action plans
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge
Target 20: Mobilizing resources from all sources


Gauteng, South Africa
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  1. Through the GBSP, a rigorous approach to the declaration of new protected areas has been established, based on tools and approaches tailored to the particular conditions of Gauteng, whilst meeting the legal requirements of the Protected Areas Act
  2. New protected areas totalling 10,634 ha (double the original project target) have been legally declared in areas of high biodiversity value through the biodiversity stewardship (BDS) process, contributing significantly to protected area expansion, the ecological integrity of Gauteng, and the maintenance of ecological functions and processes that serve both biodiversity and people.
  3. The EWT and GDARD have developed significant capacity and expertise in BDS implementation
  4. The strong working relationship between the EWT and GDARD has highlighted the collaborative nature of BDS and the successes that can be achieved through partnerships between landowners, provincial conservation authorities, and NGOs
  5. GDARD has embraced BDS as an effective approach to protected area expansion, and a successful permanent programme has been established
  6. The GDARD has already applied the knowledge and experience gained through the GBSP to assist with the declaration of a third proposed protected area made up of more than 100 landowners, situated in the buffer zone of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site.

Contributed by

Emily Taylor Endangered Wildlife Trust