Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Measures, Biodiversity Stewardship and Statutory Intervention – A South African Perspective





Biodiversity, conservation, area-based approaches, other effective area-based conservation measures, law


Area-based approaches are a central component of global efforts to conserve biodiversity. While the focus of many countries has been mainly on protected areas, other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMS) have been accorded global recognition in the past decade as a vital complementary approach to protected areas. This recognition has been reemphasised in the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework adopted by parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in December 2022, with its Target 3 ratchetting up area-based coverage targets to 30 per cent by 2030. A growing focus and reliance on OECMs to contribute towards achieving this target is anticipated. The international community has in the past few years introduced some guidance to identify, secure, manage, monitor and verify the anticipated long-term biodiversity conservation outcomes of OECMs. Some commentators have argued for domestic legal intervention to complement this general international guidance. The South African Government has recognised the potential contribution of OECMs towards the achievement of domestic and global area-based biodiversity targets in its National Protected Areas Expansion Strategy (2018) but has alluded to the need for legal intervention to ensure that they achieve positive and sustained long-term outcomes for the in situ conservation of biodiversity. Some domestic commentators have highlighted the strong link between biodiversity stewardship (particularly conservation areas) and OECMs, advocating that these conservation areas should form the priority focus of domestic efforts to identify OECMs. This article scopes this potential link and specifically considers whether the current domestic legal and policy framework applicable to these conservation areas is sufficiently robust to ensure that only appropriate areas are identified as OECMs and that once recognised, they are governed and effectively managed in the long term. It highlights several frailties of the existing framework and drawing from anticipated legal reform in the Western Cape relating to biodiversity stewardship, it proposes a possible model for future national legislation regulating OECMs.


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Author Biography

Alexander Paterson, University of Cape Town

Professor, Institute of Marine and Environmental Law, Faculty of Law, University of Cape Town




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South Africa

Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996

Deeds Registries Act 47 of 1937

KwaZulu Natal Nature Conservation Act 29 of 1992

Local Government Municipal Demarcation Act 27 of 1998

National Environmental Management Act 107 of 1998

National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act 10 of 2004

National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act 57 of 2003

National Forests Act 84 of 1998

National Heritage Resources Act 25 of 1999

Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act 16 of 2013

Subdivision of Agricultural Land Act 70 of 1970

Western Cape Biodiversity Act 6 of 2021

Western Cape Biosphere Reserves Act 6 of 2011

United Kingdom

Environment Act, 2021

International instruments

Convention on Biological Diversity (1992)

Convention on Biological Diversity, Protected Areas and OECMs UN Doc UNEP/CBD/COP/DEC/XIV/8 (2018)

Convention on Biological Diversity, Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework UN Doc UNEP/CBD/COP/DEC/15/4 (2022)

Convention on Biological Diversity, Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 UN Doc UNEP/CBD/COP/DEC/X/2 (2010)

Government publications

GN R151 in GG 29657 of 23 February 2007 (Lists of Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable and Protected Species)

GN 214 in GG 31968 of 2 March 2009 (Norms and Standards for Biodiversity Management Plans for Species)

GN 416 in GG 34388 of 24 June 2011 (Biodiversity Management Plan for Albany Cycad)

GN 49 in GG 36096 of 25 January 2013 (Biodiversity Management Plan for Black Rhinocerous)

GN 433 in GG 36411 of 26 April 2013 (Biodiversity Management Plan for Pelargonium Sidoides)

GN 83 in GG 37302 of 7 February 2014 (Norms and Standards for Biodiversity Management Plans for Ecosystems)

GN 350 in GG 37620 of 8 May 2014 (Biodiversity Management Plan for Bearded Vulture)

GN 982-985 in GG 38282 of 4 December 2014 (Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations)

GN 258 in GG 38607 of 25 March 2015 (Biodiversity Management Plan for Sharks)

GN 1191 in GG 39469 of 2 December 2015 (Biodiversity Management Plan for White Rhinocerous)

GN 1190 in GG 39468 of 2 December 2015 (Biodiversity Management Plan for African Lion)

GN 427 in GG 39922 of 15 April 2016 (Draft Biodiversity Management Plan for the Hartbeesspruit Ecosystem)

GN 315 in GG 40815 of 28 April 2017 (Biodiversity Management Plan for 11 Critically Endangered and Four Endangered Cycad Species)

GN 423 in GG 40883 of 2 June 2017 (Biodiversity Management Plan for Pickersgill's Reed Frog)

GN 214 in GG 41498 of 16 March 2018 (Biodiversity Management Plan for Cape Mountain Zebra)

GN 1567 in GG 42887 of 6 December 2019 (Biodiversity Management Plan for Bontebok)

GN 1924 in GG 46088 of 25 March 2022 (Draft National Biodiversity Offset Guideline)

GN 2192 in GG 46597 of 24 June 2022 (Biodiversity Management Plan for Aloe Ferox and Honeybush Species)

GN 2386 in GG 46738 of 19 Aug 2022 (National Biodiversity Framework 2019-2024)

Proc 18 in PG 8682 of 11 November 2022 (Commencement of Western Cape Biodiversity Act)

GN 2747 in GG 47526 of 18 November 2022 (Revised National List of Ecosystems that are Threatened and in Need of Protection)

Internet sources

Birdlife South Africa date unknown Western Cape Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Measures: Recognising, Assessing and Reporting OECMS in the Western Cape https://www.birdlife.org.za/what-we-do/landscape-conservation/protecting-ecosystems/oecms/ accessed 10 January 2023

CapeNature 2023 Stewardship https://www.capenature.co.za/stewardship accessed 10 January 2023

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife date unknown About Stewardship http://www.kznwildlife.com/stewardship.html accessed 10 January 2023

UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre and International Union for the Conservation of Nature 2023 Protected Planet: The World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) and World Database on Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measures https://www.protectedplanet.net/en accessed 10 January 2023



How to Cite

Paterson, A. (2023). Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Measures, Biodiversity Stewardship and Statutory Intervention – A South African Perspective. Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal, 26, (Published on 13 June 2023) pp 1 – 31. https://doi.org/10.17159/1727-3781/2023/v26i0a15441



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