Safeguarding Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in the Little Karoo, South Africa

Authors

  • BENIS N. EGOH,

    1. Centre for Invasion Biology, Department of Botany and Zoology, Stellenbosch University, Private Bag X1, Matieland 7602, South Africa
    2. Natural Resources and the Environment, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, P. O. Box 320, Stellenbosch, 7599, South Africa
    3. Department of Botany, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, P. O. Box 77000, Port Elizabeth 6031, South Africa
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  • BELINDA REYERS,

    1. Natural Resources and the Environment, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, P. O. Box 320, Stellenbosch, 7599, South Africa
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  • JOSIE CARWARDINE,

    1. The University of Queensland, The Applied Environmental Decision Analysis Centre, The Ecology Centre, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia
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  • MICHAEL BODE,

    1. Applied Environmental Decision Analysis Group, School of Botany, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, 3010, Australia
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  • PATRICK J. O'FARRELL,

    1. Natural Resources and the Environment, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, P. O. Box 320, Stellenbosch, 7599, South Africa
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  • KERRIE A. WILSON,

    1. The University of Queensland, The Applied Environmental Decision Analysis Centre, The Ecology Centre, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia
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  • HUGH P. POSSINGHAM,

    1. The University of Queensland, The Applied Environmental Decision Analysis Centre, The Ecology Centre, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia
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  • MATHIEU ROUGET,

    1. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Private Bag x101, Pretoria 0001, South Africa
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  • WILLEM De LANGE,

    1. Natural Resources and the Environment, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, P. O. Box 320, Stellenbosch, 7599, South Africa
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  • DAVID M. RICHARDSON,

    1. Centre for Invasion Biology, Department of Botany and Zoology, Stellenbosch University, Private Bag X1, Matieland 7602, South Africa
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  • RICHARD M. COWLING

    1. Department of Botany, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, P. O. Box 77000, Port Elizabeth 6031, South Africa
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email ebenis@gmail.com

Abstract

Abstract: Global declines in biodiversity and the widespread degradation of ecosystem services have led to urgent calls to safeguard both. Responses to this urgency include calls to integrate the needs of ecosystem services and biodiversity into the design of conservation interventions. The benefits of such integration are purported to include improvements in the justification and resources available for these interventions. Nevertheless, additional costs and potential trade-offs remain poorly understood in the design of interventions that seek to conserve biodiversity and ecosystem services. We sought to investigate the synergies and trade-offs in safeguarding ecosystem services and biodiversity in South Africa's Little Karoo. We used data on three ecosystem services—carbon storage, water recharge, and fodder provision—and data on biodiversity to examine several conservation planning scenarios. First, we investigated the amount of each ecosystem service captured incidentally by a conservation plan to meet targets for biodiversity only while minimizing opportunity costs. We then examined the costs of adding targets for ecosystem services into this conservation plan. Finally, we explored trade-offs between biodiversity and ecosystem service targets at a fixed cost. At least 30% of each ecosystem service was captured incidentally when all of biodiversity targets were met. By including data on ecosystem services, we increased the amount of services captured by at least 20% for all three services without additional costs. When biodiversity targets were reduced by 8%, an extra 40% of fodder provision and water recharge were obtained and 58% of carbon could be captured for the same cost. The opportunity cost (in terms of forgone production) of safeguarding 100% of the biodiversity targets was about US$500 million. Our results showed that with a small decrease in biodiversity target achievement, substantial gains for the conservation of ecosystem services can be achieved within our biodiversity priority areas for no extra cost.

Abstract

Resumen: Las declinaciones globales de biodiversidad y la degradación generalizada de los servicios del ecosistema han conducido a llamados urgentes para salvaguardarlos. Las respuestas a esta urgencia incluyen llamados para integrar las necesidades de los servicios del ecosistema y la biodiversidad en el diseño de intervenciones de conservación. Los beneficios de tal integración pretenden incluir mejoras en la justificación y recursos disponibles para estas intervenciones. Sin embargo, los costos adicionales y desventajas potenciales son poco conocidas en el diseño de intervenciones que buscan conservar la biodiversidad y los servicios del ecosistema. Tratamos de investigar las sinergias y desventajas de salvaguardar los servicios del ecosistema y la biodiversidad en el Pequeño Karoo en Sudáfrica. Utilizamos datos de tres servicios del ecosistema – almacenamiento de carbono, recarga de agua y provisión de forraje – y datos de la biodiversidad para examinar varios escenarios de planificación de la conservación. Primero, investigamos la cantidad de servicio ambiental capturado incidentalmente por un plan de conservación para alcanzar objetivos para la biodiversidad que solo minimiza los costos de oportunidad. Posteriormente examinamos los costos de añadir objetivos para los servicios del ecosistema en este plan. Finalmente, exploramos los pros y contras entre los objetivos de biodiversidad y servicios del ecosistema a un costo fijo. Por lo menos 30% de cada servicio del ecosistema fue capturado incidentalmente cuando se cumplían todos los objetivos de biodiversidad. Al incluir datos sobre los servicios del ecosistema, incrementamos la cantidad de servicios capturados en por lo menos 20% para los tres servicios sin costos adicionales. Cuando los objetivos de biodiversidad fueron reducidos en 8%, se obtuvo 40% adicional de provisión de forraje y recarga de agua y se podía capturar 58% de carbono por el mismo costo. El costo de oportunidad (en términos de producción soslayada) de salvaguardar 100% de los objetivos de biodiversidad fue de US$500 millones aproximadamente. Nuestros resultados mostraron que con una pequeña reducción en los objetivos de biodiversidad, se pueden obtener ganancias sustanciales para la conservación de servicios del ecosistema en nuestras áreas prioritarias para la biodiversidad sin costo adicional.

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