Protecting Nature's Hotspots for people and prosperity

Socioeconomic, Policy and Institutional Context



Socioeconomic, Policy and Institutional Context

Historical Context

The Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany environment has been shaped by human habitation since prehistory. The current extent of environmental transformation is the result of human activities over the past few centuries, characterized by sustained periods of external domination, war and displacement. Early contact with European and Asian traders around the present-day Maputo is widely accepted by historians to have initiated a process of nation-state formation in southeast Africa that cascaded southward and led to the consolidation of the Nguni empires. This in turn started an era of war and displacement known locally as the mfecane that reorganized the sociopolitical landscape. The British colonized the present-day areas of the hotspot that fall within Swaziland and South Africa while the Portuguese colonization of Mozambique was consolidated in 1875. An Indian population was brought to the region during the 19th century by the British as forced laborers for the expanding local sugar industry. Swaziland and South Africa gained independence in the 1960s. Apartheid, which had significant impacts on the rural landscape and ecology of the regions within the hotspot due to the location of the largest homelands here, continued in South Africa until 1994 when the first democratic elections were held. Swaziland became a constitutional monarchy headed by a king, presently King Mswati III, who ascended to the throne in 1986. Mozambique gained independence in 1975 after a war of independence, but this was soon followed by another war fuelled by South Africa’s destabilization policy that lasted until 1992 when the Rome Peace Accords were signed and elections were held in 1994.

It is only in the last 15 years, since the end of apartheid in South Africa and conflicts in Mozambique, that the region has experienced political, social and economic cooperation. The region’s history has shaped land-use trends in the hotspot and continues to influence current demography and socioeconomic conditions, land tenure and land reform, policy, law and institutional environments, and economic trends. These issues are discussed in relation to the three biologically defined regions within the hotspot: Maputaland Center of Endemism, which is the region that extends through Mozambique, Swaziland and South Africa; and, Pondolandand and Albany Centers, both of which are located entirely within South Africa.

Demography and Socioeconomy


A rough estimate of the total population for Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany is 18.4 million people2 , 10 million of whom live in the KwaZulu-Natal Province, 6.9 million of whom live in the Eastern Cape and the remainder of whom live in the rural areas of Swaziland and southern Mozambique. In the Gaza Province in Mozambique the population density is a mere 18 people per square kilometer, while in the Eastern Cape, the average is 41 people per km2 and in KwaZulu-Natal the population density is 137/people per km2.

Of the South African population, 6.3 million reside in urban areas. Rural densities are highest in the former homeland areas of South Africa, particularly in areas such as Bushbuckridge in Mpumalanga (where densities exceed 500/km2), parts of the former homeland areas of KwaZulu-Natal and the area around Mtata in the Eastern Cape. Rural densities are below 60/km2 in the private land areas of KwaZulu-Natal and the more arid portions of the Eastern Cape. Swaziland is small and relatively densely populated while the level of urbanization is low, with 80 percent of the population living in rural areas. Swaziland has a low total population of around 1.1 million and it is likely that at least 50 percent of this number live within the hotspot. The population estimate for the Mozambican portion of the hotspot is approximately 3.2 million people (2007 census data), although more than 50 percent (approximately 1.8 million) live in urban areas and primarily the aggregation in and surrounding Maputo city. These population density differences reflect the percentage of the population in urban areas, where services, education, and employment are higher (e.g. within the Eastern Cape, the urban district around Port Elizabeth in the Albany Center has a literacy rate of 91 percent as compared to 49.2 percent in the poor, rural OR Tambo district in Pondoland.)

Growth rates in Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany have been generally high in the past decades, particularly in urban areas due to urbanization (for example, 4 percent in Maputo), but this has changed in recent years. For example, KwaZulu-Natal had a population of 12.7 million in the 2001 census, with a growth rate of 2.4 percent per year, but the mid-2009 estimate is 10.44 million (SSA 2009), indicating a sharp reversal from a positive to a negative growth rate. Similarly, Swaziland has a negative population growth rate. This is due to HIV/AIDS that occurs at a high rate across the entire hotspot. Indeed, HIV prevalence in the national populations aged between 15 and 49 is very high (13 percent in Mozambique, 18 percent in South Africa (with rates as high as 39 percent in KwaZulu-Natal, the highest of all South African Provinces, and 26 percent in Swaziland, (WB 2009); an estimated 34.5 percent of child-bearing women in the KwaZulu-Natal had HIV/AIDS in 2002, Dorrington et al. 2002). AIDS-related deaths accounted for 47 percent of all deaths in South Africa in 2007, leaving an estimated 1.9 million orphans nationwide (SSA 2009). This represents a significant threat to capacity in the hotspot, and exacerbates poverty.

The mortality rate of under-5-year-olds in all three countries is very high but particularly in Mozambique (17 percent, compared to 6 percent in South Africa and 9 percent in Swaziland). Life expectancies at birth in these countries are 42, 50 and 40 years respectively (WB 2009). Aside from HIV/AIDS, other key health problems in the hotspot are environmental health issues, including malaria (particularly in the northern areas), tuberculosis and schistosomiasis (bilharzia), as well as waterborne illnesses such as cholera (with an average of 6,000 cases of cholera per year in Maputo City, Mozambique) and diarrhea.

Poverty and Unemployment

Poverty is high across the hotspot and there is a high degree of unequal distribution of wealth in terms of household income and consumption figures. In the Swaziland portion of the hotspot, 81 percent of the population is living on less than $2 per day and the Human Poverty Index (HPI-1)3 is 36 percent. For Mozambique the figures are 90 percent and 48 percent respectively (HDRO 2008). In the Eastern Cape, the poverty rate in 2008 was 58 percent of the total population and in KwaZulu-Natal the figures are at 61 percent.

In the Pondoland and Albany centers in the Eastern Cape, poverty has increased from 55.3 percent in 2006 to 58.3 percent by 2008 with an increasing total population from 3,422,513 to 3,889,673. As is often the case, poverty and employment go hand and hand in the region. In the Eastern Cape unemployment has increased from 25 percent in 2006 to 32 percent in 2008 (Eastern Cape Socio-Economic Consultative Council, 2009) and 10 of the 25 poorest local municipalities in South Africa are in the Eastern Cape. Employment in Maputo Province is 58 percent whilst in Maputo City it is only 48 percent and has a significant gender bias, with women having a higher employment rate by 10 percent over men in 2004. Additionally, the self-employment rates in Mozambique are very high: 36 percent, 48 percent and 67 percent in Maputo City, Maputo Province and Gaza respectively (INE 2009). In KwaZulu-Natal and the Ehlanzeni municipality of Mpumalanga, between 71 percent and 74 percent of the work force has no income at all.


Education in the hotspot area is a critical challenge, particularly in rural populations. Although increasing each year since 1995, functional literacy for adults above 20 years old in the Eastern Cape Province is 66 percent (Eastern Cape Socio-Economic Consultative Council, 2009) equivalent to literacy in KwaZulu-Natal which is 65 percent. Public education in Mozambique is very limited, with a very high drop-out rate at primary level. Maputo Province's illiteracy rate in 2007 was 22 percent, with a high level of gender bias: the rate was 12.1 percent in men as opposed to 30.5 percent in women. The illiteracy rate in Maputo City is much lower, at 10 percent (INE 2009). The situation in Swaziland is much better, with illiteracy rates of 18 percent overall and only a 2 percent difference between the sexes (CIA 2009). High illiteracy rates are often associated with high fertility rates as well as limiting income earning opportunities, and seriously exacerbate poverty and population problems, and hence environmental problems, in the hotspot.

Table 7. Key Well-Being Indicators

South Africa Swaziland Mozambique
GINI Index 58 61 40
GNI per capita, PPP (current international $) 9087 4705 739
Extreme Poverty (% of pop. living on <$1.25 per day) 26 63 74
Poverty (% of pop. living on <$2 per day) 43 81 90
Employment to population ratio, 15+, total (%) 41 51 77
Prevalence of undernourishment (% of population) 5 18 38
Population without access to improved water source (%) 7 40 58
Sources: HDRO 2008, World Bank World Development Indicators Database, April 2009

Services tend to be poor in the rural parts of Mozambique and Swaziland, and the former homeland areas of South Africa, as well as in peri-urban areas; contributing to pressures on the environment. Thus, only 28 percent of households in KwaZulu-Natal have piped water to the dwelling or yard, and 59 percent have weekly refuse removal – much higher than the 21 percent in Ehlanzeni municipality in the Mpumalanga Province in north of the hotspot (SSA 2001). Poor services, infrastructure and economic development in the Eastern Cape have resulted in large numbers of people migrating to urban centers outside of the hotspot (particularly Cape Town). This has further reduced an already low rural population in the Eastern Cape, and the population growth rate in 2001 was only 0.43 percent per year (SSA 2001). Similarly, only half the Swazi population has access to improved sanitation services and only 60 percent of the population has access to an improved water source.

2 The accuracy of the estimate is limited by different census dates, a lack of recent census data in some areas and non-alignment of the census district boundaries with the hotspot boundaries. The estimate does not take changes since the census into account: the population has not been growing everywhere – indeed, recent partial estimates suggest population declines in some areas.

3 The HPI-1 is derived from: Probability of not surviving to age 40; adult illiteracy rate; percentage of population not using and improved water source; percentage of children under weight for age.

Natural Resource Use

Rural households throughout the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany Hotspot use a wide variety of natural resources to meet basic living requirements, to trade in internal and external markets and as a coping strategy in periods of stress. This is particularly the case in the Mozambique and Swaziland portions of the hotspot, where the people primarily regard themselves as agriculturalists but tend to have a diverse natural resource-dependent livelihood base. In contrast, in the two South African provinces in the Hotspot, rural households are primarily dependent on cash received from urban areas (through remittances or migrant labor), as well as from government pensions and grants. Thus, although natural resource use does provide them with additional livelihood sources and fulfills an important safety net function, it is not as important as in Mozambique and Swaziland.

Where there are people whose livelihoods are dependent on natural resources, in addition to water and grazing for livestock, the most commonly used resources include indigenous wood for fuel, construction materials and utility items; wild fruits, herbs and vegetables; medicinal plants; grass, reeds and sedges for thatching, construction, mats and crafts; and clay and sand for building and pottery. Factors that affect the degree of use of natural resources by households include resource availability, accessibility and rules of access, household income, availability of substitutes and cultural factors (such as dwelling design), as well as population density. Poorer communities without electricity are usually more dependent on natural resources, as are households that have suffered shocks such as retrenchment or death of a breadwinner.

The different livelihood strategies undertaken at the household level interact in complex ways and the resulting effects on natural resources are not always straightforward or predictable. Although there are only a handful of studies from the hotspot area on the contribution of natural resources to rural livelihoods, a more detailed analysis is underway for the Pondoland North Coast and it is known that rural households throughout the hotspot trade in one or more type of natural resources as a source of cash income. This is partly because agricultural surpluses are often difficult to achieve due to labor and land shortages, and because there are few alternative opportunities to meet household cash income needs. Natural resources play an important role in the drought coping strategies in Mozambique, when households turn to gathering of wild fruits and production of charcoal (Eriksen & Silva 2009). Urban demand for medicinal plants and charcoal (particularly in the areas surrounding Maputo city) provides an incentive for the harvesting and production of these resources in rural areas, and trading in natural resources can be profitable relative to other income generating activities about which the people might not know or have the current skill set to exploit (Shackleton & Shackleton 2000, Shackleton et al. 2001).

The deepening poverty that is being brought about in the hotspot area by HIV/AIDS and the current economic downturn is also increasing household reliance on natural resources in rural areas (Jones 2006). The high rate of job losses in urban and rural areas results in people returning to rural home bases to seek livelihood opportunities (e.g. Hoffman et al. 1999.) In this regard, the natural resources present in the rural areas act as a safety net to a much wider sector of society than those currently present in the rural areas. This dependence is likely to continue to increase in the medium term until economic development reduces the level of poverty.

Land Tenure and Land Reform Context

Across the region, the history of colonial occupation and land dispossession resulted in great inequalities in land ownership. Under apartheid in South Africa, the whites took ownership of the majority of land. The remaining land was designated “communal” land – a term which has historical derivations and differences across the three hotspot countries. In general, on communal land, the community group has use rights. The issues of rights of use, access and control are more complex than on land owned by an individual. In some cases traditional institutions determine these rights, while in other cases there is little effective administration and control over the land resulting in the classic problem of open access and the “tragedy of the commons.” Thus, for investment in the hotspot to be effective, it is important to understand land tenure, land reform and natural resource use in these areas.


Land tenure and the control of natural resources has, throughout its history, been a complex issue in Mozambique (Clark & Vaz 2006). Before independence, small-scale farmers relied upon customary forms of land tenure. The practices and human densities were so low that the impacts were minimal. In contrast, commercial farmers (mostly Portuguese) had long leases that were almost equivalent to freehold ownership and significant transformation took place. After independence, all land became state-owned. Abandoned commercial farms were reorganized into large state farms, while small farmers were expected to join cooperatives or communal villages. During the civil war, many of the state farms reverted to subsistence level agriculture, and there was large-scale displacement of the population mainly to urban centers. After the end of the civil war, displaced families and others tried to return to their former lands, which led to conflict with those who had taken over their land. In addition, local and expatriate investors were seeking to gain control over land that was claimed to be “unoccupied” or “abandoned.” Conflict escalated between subsistence farmers wishing to assert their traditional land use rights and those who had submitted legal claims or acquired leases over the same land. These conflicts were addressed through the introduction of land reforms in the 1997 Land Law, followed by the secondary legislation passed in 2000. Under this law, land is still vested in the state, but it has become easier for private enterprises to obtain land rights for up to 50 years, which allows for sub-lease agreements as well (Eriksen & Silva 2009).

While this system of land management has been successful in many respects, such as protecting traditional land use rights of subsistence farmers because the tenure is relatively short, there is no long-term incentive for holders of land to protect or conserve the land. The result is that many problems are being experienced, including land degradation; the pursuit of short-term profits over long-term investments; constraints on the expansion of commercial agriculture; land speculation (individuals acquire land not for the purpose of developing it but rather for profiting from the sale of the “infrastructure” on the land at a later stage); and opportunities for corrupt officials to enrich themselves through allocation of land. With investment, NGO partners could have significant impacts working with local communities to improve the management of communal areas (for example, the Lebombo Hills in the transfrontier conservation area.)

South Africa

As in Mozambique, history has had a profound impact on land tenure and consequent land management in the hotspot area in South Africa. Before 1994, apartheid was implemented at every level of society and at its most fundamental level it involved control of the land. In some cases in the hotspot, people were moved off land that was then proclaimed a protected area; occasionally, this was used strategically as part of the apartheid government’s strategy to secure its border with Mozambique. Consequently, conservation was seen as benefiting only white people and dispossessing others. More generally, apartheid policies have had some of their greatest impacts on land use and distribution in the hotspot, with the majority of designated homeland areas (areas where black South Africans were forced to live in high-population densities) falling within the hotspot while the remainder of the country was under white freehold title or owned by the state.

Communal Lands

Three former homeland areas fall within the boundary of the hotspot and make up the majority of the current communal land holdings within it: KaNgwane in Mpumalanga Province, KwaZulu in KwaZulu-Natal Province, and the Transkei and Ciskei in the Eastern Cape Province. The run-up to the 1994 elections and the end of the Homeland/Bantustan system impacted the current status of communal land. In the Mpumalanga Province, the KaNgwane Homeland was incorporated into South Africa between 1990 and 1994. KwaZulu-Natal is the only province in which provision of a king is also recognized in the constitution. Land in the province is administered by traditional leaders (chiefs), but the chiefs do not hold title to the land and cannot dispose of it, as the land is still owned by the state. Women as well as men are also granted land through this process, particularly for farming plots.

Similarly, in the Eastern Cape Province, the Ciskei and Transkei homelands were incorporated into South Africa between 1990 and 1994 and are administered by chiefs through Traditional Councils that do not hold title to the land. In KwaZulu-Natal, a different scenario played out in the run-up to the 1994 elections. In a final bid to appease the Inkhata Freedom Party that was set to boycott the elections of 1994 and clung to the KwaZulu Homeland, the Ingonyama (Kings) Trust was established. The Ingonyama Trust holds title on all land in the province that used to form part of the KwaZulu Homeland. The land is also administered by chiefs through Traditional Councils, but the main difference is that the land is not owned by the state, but by the trust. The KwaZulu-Natal homeland is the only province where the rights of traditional rulers are guaranteed in the Constitution. In these traditional communal lands, conservation efforts will require working within this traditional system.

Land Claims and Land Reform

A national land reform program in South Africa involves restituting land to those who were subject to forced removals. The program has been implemented with three elements – restitution, tenure reform and redistribution. By the end of 2008, about 5.1 million hectares (just over 5 percent of commercial farm land) had been transferred to historically disadvantaged South Africans, falling far short of the progress needed toward the target of 24.9 million hectares (30 percent of commercial agricultural lands) by 2014. Of the land that has been transferred, very little is being used profitably, leading to a call for increased rural development by President Zuma in 2009. Land claims on conservation areas by previously dispossessed communities have also been a major issue in nearly all of the key biodiversity areas in the South African provinces and 26 land claims exist in South Africa’s 21 national parks, and claims exist for the majority of conservation areas within the hotspot. High-profile success stories such as the Zulu Rhino Reserve in the Pongola Key Biodiversity Area where the community structure established after a land claim has also been supported by WWF-South Africa to obtain black rhinoceros as an attraction for ecotourism development are found simultaneously with stories where conservation has not yet met the needs/expectations of land claimants such as at the Mkambati Reserve, in the Pondoland North Coast. Thus, government understands that conservation as a land use can drive economic growth, but remains wary of conservation efforts due to the historical disenfranchisement of local people for the creation of protected areas and the lack of successful models of conservation-based economic development on land-reform land within or beyond protected areas. As a national priority and strongly emotive issue in the country, conservation efforts must align and support this national effort and a number of pilots are taking place that are making progress and generating models that can be replicated and lessons that can be built upon.


There are two types of land tenure in Swaziland: Swazi Nation land, based on customary law and held in trust by the king, and title deed land, which is held under freehold title and covers about a quarter of the country. Swazi Nation land is mostly under customary tenure (covering 55 percent of the land area) and is allocated to households by chiefs (van der Waveren 2008). Thus, households obtain access to land for housing, agriculture, grazing and collection of raw materials by professing allegiance to a chief. The system thus has an important social security function, especially with slow economic growth and rising unemployment, although, important for long-term environmental management, tenure security for individuals can be tenuous because chiefs are able to take land away and re-allocate it. About 12 percent of customary tenure land is cultivated, the remainder used for grazing, collection of natural materials and hunting. Farming systems are small scale and mixed. Some 92 percent of homesteads have land for cropping. Maize and cotton are the main staple and cash crops grown, but yields are low, and there is very little irrigation.

In 1997, noting that rapid population growth, industrialization, urbanization, increasing agricultural demands and a declining economy were fast degrading the natural resource base, the Swaziland Environment Action Plan (SEAP) was approved, with agro-ecological zoning being one of its major strategies. SEAP promotes clearly defined, enforceable and transferable property rights as fundamental to production efficiency and agricultural development. Government recently adopted a Rural Resettlement Policy to improve land use on customary tenure land, by re-arranging land within rural communities (fitting within customary land tenure arrangements). It is not clear when and how the SEAP and Rural Resettlement Policy will unfold into implementation and a watching brief approach should be adopted.

Economic Trends

The economic statistics of the socio-political regions making up the hotspot are consistent with those of developing countries. Within the Maputaland area, Swaziland and Mozambique’s economy is based on agriculture and agro-industry. High-value crops (sugar and timber) make up most of the agricultural contribution to the regional (only 7 percent of the regional GDP), while industry (largely textiles, mineral and sugar-related processing and export) accounts for about half the GDP. Small-scale farming is the predominant economic activity although in some areas – usually alluvial floodplains – large-scale sugar cane production is increasing. Infrastructure projects in the Maputo Province have been one of the main drivers in recent years, particularly with foreign donor funding and remain a key economic focus to improve the domestic business environment. Some of the significant infrastructure developments have been aimed at the development of ecotourism and efforts by both donor and private sector funding have expanded opportunities for this sector to grow in the Mozambique and Swaziland regions of the hotspot in the future.

Within the South African region of the hotpot, the rural areas dominated by communal lands have the weakest local economies, especially in the Highland Grassland and Pondoland corridors in the Eastern Cape. Government services, including education and health as well as public administration, create the bulk of employment in the two provinces in the hotspot and are likely to continue to do so in the near future. While increasing manufacturing and urban retail and finance services are the second largest contributors to GDP, agriculture plays a significant employment role in both provinces. In KwaZulu-Natal, the main economic drivers have historically been mining, timber, agriculture, manufacturing and financial services. Sugar cane production in the province is well established and has led to significant fragmentation of the landscape particularly along the coast. Durban and Richard's Bay are major port cities in the province. However, since 1994, there has been a massive increase in tourism and related leisure/lifestyle estates leading to residential, resort and other developments that have contributed to the construction and retail sector growth in the economy.

In the Eastern Cape, people in the former Transkei region are dependent on cattle, maize and sorghum-farming. An olive nursery has been developed in collaboration with the University of Fort Hare in the region to form a nucleus of olive production in the province and there is much talk of the potential for expansion of small-scale forestry in this area. The Alexandria-Grahamstown area produces pineapples, chicory and dairy products, while coffee and tea are cultivated at Magwa. The fertile Langkloof Valley in the southwest has enormous deciduous fruit orchards, while sheep farming predominates in the Karoo. Two major industrial centers exist within Port Elizabeth and East London and both of these cities also operate ports contributing to the GDP of the region.

The recent global economic recession has affected the region, resulting in negative growth rates during the past year in all areas. In the South African provinces, growth dropped to 3.1 percent in 2008, and was expected to slow to 1.1 percent in 2009 with the nascent automotive industry in the Eastern Cape expected to take the greatest hit. Although Mozambique was less affected than South Africa, the International Monetary Fund lowered the forecast for economic growth in Mozambique from 6.2 percent in 2008 to 5.5 percent in 2009 as a result of the recession (UNDP 2009). Swaziland’s real economic growth declined to 2.6 percent in 2008. This has and will deepen poverty in the region, and will make poverty alleviation measures more challenging over the next few years. Selected economic indicators at the national scale are provided in Table 8.

Table 8. Economic Indicators for 2007

Economic Indicators

South Africa



GDP (current US$) (billions) 283.01 2.89 7.79
GDP growth (annual %)* 5.1 3.5 7.3
Inflation, GDP deflator (annual %) 8.9 8.9 6.2
Exports of goods and services (% of GDP) 32 80 39
Imports of goods and services (% of GDP) 35 81 46
Gross capital formation (% of GDP) 21 13 19
Overseas development assistance received 2007 ($ millions) (% of GDP) 794 (0.28%) 63 (2.18%) 1777

Payment for Ecosystem Goods and Services

The recognition of the value of ecosystem services, first made popular by Costanza et al. (1997), has led to the realization that in some cases it is worth paying for the protection of areas that provide valuable services. Payments for ecosystem services first arose as unbrokered, private deals, where “downstream” users of services provided by “upstream” ecosystems undertook to pay upstream landowners to change their land use so as to improve service delivery. While the term only came into use later, developed world conservation agencies have long since pioneered the idea of paying landowners to withdraw from activities that threatened certain ecosystems or elements of biodiversity. More recently, hundreds of projects have been established around the world, usually involving an arrangement where landowners are paid to reduce or cease their damaging activities by those that benefit from the services provided by the conserved ecosystems. A payments for ecosystem services system involves voluntary payments for well-defined ecosystem services (or land uses that are likely to secure those services) that are conditional on service delivery (Wunder, 2005). In South Africa, Working for Water provides a unique example of paying to restore ecosystem services while at the same time benefiting formerly unemployed people. This program also differs from the usual model in that those being paid are not the landowners, and the landowners also benefit from the restoration activity (Turpie et al. 2008).

Successful projects most commonly involve the provision of hydrological services, and to some extent carbon sequestration services. Some projects have also attempted to market services such as biodiversity conservation and scenic beauty. In the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany Hotspot, payments for ecosystem services are seen as potentially playing a significant role in achieving conservation in the Highland Grassland areas, both as an incentive mechanism (for landowners to change to more conservation-friendly practices) and as a financing mechanism (for existing protected areas and catchment management). The most marketable service in this area is hydrological (specifically flow regulation), although other services will be protected in the process of protecting hydrological services. Water purification services by landscapes in general and wetlands in particular are also potentially marketable throughout the study area, given the crisis level of water quality in the region. Given the natural coverage of savanna and forests in the region, there are also plenty of opportunities for carbon sequestration projects and even biodiversity offsets that, if designed properly to capitalize on urban centers, could provide financial sustainability to conservation efforts throughout the region.

The areas that are most valuable in terms of provision of ecosystem services generally coincide with the areas of highest poverty within South Africa (Blignaut et al. 2008, Turpie et al. 2009). This is because the delivery of ecosystem services and the distribution of people are both highly correlated with the higher rainfall and more productive areas in the eastern half of the country. Despite recent trends in recognizing the value of ecosystems and their potential contribution to development and poverty alleviation (for example, Turpie et al. 2009 estimated that ecosystem services are currently worth in the order of 7 percent of GDP in South Africa), tension between areas of high-biodiversity value and extreme poverty within the hotspot remains high. Thus the imperative as well as the opportunity exists for innovative mechanisms for financial payments or other livelihood benefits that ensure the continued functioning of ecosystems and delivery of critical ecological goods and services as well as alleviate poverty. The conservation community and local government must urgently work together to combine science and policy and financing to support pilots and sustainable development in the areas of high overlap between ecosystem goods and services and poverty within the hotspot (Figure 10).

Figure 10. Maps Showing Poverty Level and “Production of Ecosystem Goods and Services” by Municipality in South Africa (a similar analysis is not available for Swaziland or Mozambique regions of the hotspot). High-poverty municipalities indicate areas where >40 percent of households are headed by an individual who earns <$650 per annum (Source: SANBI and TIPS 2nd Economy Report).

Figure 10. Maps Showing Poverty Level by Municipality in South Africa

Figure 10. Maps Showing Production of Ecosystem Goods and Services by Municipality in South Africa

Government Policy, Law and Institutions

The policy and legislative context is different between the three countries. Although they all have relatively comprehensive environmental policy and legislation, there are profound differences in the effectiveness of its implementation. Due to the huge developmental challenges facing these countries, the environmental sector receives small budget allocations and is resource constrained, with this being a much more severe constraint in Mozambique than in South Africa or even Swaziland.

All three countries are signatories to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and have developed National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans. They are also signatories to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and are in the process of developing national climate change adaptation policies/frameworks.

The sections below describe the policy and legislative context and summarize the institutional responsibility for biodiversity conservation in each country.


There is a wide range of environmental legislation and policy in Mozambique, including the Environment Law; the Land Law; Regulation for Environmental Impact Assessments; Environment Policy; Forest and Wildlife Law and the Forestry and Wildlife Regulations; and the Forestry and Wildlife Policy and Strategy. However, these policies are poorly implemented or legislation poorly enforced for a number of reasons – for example, financial and human capacity is limited, and the policies are subject to different and sometimes conflicting interpretation.

An important development is the recently adopted Conservation Policy that proposes the streamlining of protected area management and legislation. The following sections are of particular relevance:
  • The policy provides for the formation of an autonomous protected areas authority that should be governed by an independent board and should have independent financial processes; this autonomous body will fall under the auspices of the Ministry for the Coordination of Environmental Affairs (MICOA).
  • There is an emphasis on partnerships, including non-state actors, as the key mechanism for effective protected area management and for achieving conservation outcomes within the country.
  • Locally, protected area management will be vested into management committees constituted by relevant local stakeholders
  • Protected area managers must be involved in municipal, district and provincial level planning processes; protected area planning and management should be harmonized with the district development plans.
The Ministry for the Coordination of Environmental Affairs is responsible for implementing national environmental legislation, policy and programs, and is also responsible for implementation of the CBD and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). There is not a single directorate within MICOA that is responsible for conservation but there are five directorates that have influence over conservation: the Direcção Nacional Avaliação de Impacto Ambiental, which oversees EIA processes; Direcção Nacional de Gestão Ambiental, Direcção Nacional de Planeamento e Ordenamento Territorial, Direcção Nacional de Promoção Ambiental, and Direcção Nacional de Planificação. The Ministry of Tourism (MITUR) with its National Directorate for Conservation Areas has the mandate to manage conservation areas for tourism and is the principal government institution involved in the establishment and management of protected areas. The primary purpose of these protected areas is not biodiversity, ecosystem or ecological process conservation, but nature-based tourism.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, through the Direcção Nacional Florestas e Terras (formerly the National Directorate for Forestry and Wildlife) has the responsibility for managing forestry, including forestry reserves, and wildlife resources, outside of those conservation areas currently managed for tourism by MITUR. For example, all turtle species are protected under a Forest and Wildlife regulation (Decree 12/2002 of 6 June 2002) in that the killing of marine turtles and possession of their eggs is an offence.

The Ministry of Fisheries (Ministério das Pescas) has jurisdiction over the marine area and marine resources. The mandate of this ministry is primarily productive and includes both commercial and artisanal fishing. The ministry has been involved in the development of the recently declared marine reserve at Ponto d’Ouro.

These national level structures are mirrored at the provincial level; the entirety of Maputo Province and part of Gaza Province are included in the hotspot area. In addition and of note in the decentralization process, each district has people allocated in each of the key sectors. Finally, the police and judiciary are key institutions for law enforcement and civil society could catalyze strengthening their ability to carry out their functions.

South Africa

The South African environmental policy and legislation is strong and progressive. Indeed, the Constitution of South Africa provides for the right to a healthy environment and environmental protection while promoting justifiable economic and social development. The National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act is the key legislation governing biodiversity management, with the National Environmental Management Protected Areas Act being the key law used to declare protected areas. The Marine Living Resources Act governs the marine environment and is used to declare marine protected areas.

Implementation of environmental policy and law in South Africa is uneven, with certain areas being of high quality while others lack human and financial resources. In fact, the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government itself recognizes lack of capacity to enforce compliance as one of its primary challenges (www.kznprovince.gov.za).

The constitution gives concurrent legislative competence to national and provincial governments for most functions relevant to biodiversity conservation with the exception of national parks, botanical gardens and marine resources, the management of which rests with national government agencies. At the national level there are two key departments that report to one minister. The Department of Environmental Affairs is the primary custodian of the environment, and the Department of Water Affairs, the primary custodian of water. SANBI is the primary statutory entity devoted to the study, conservation, display and promotion of the country's biodiversity. At the national level the South African National Parks is the national statutory body mandated to manage South Africa’s national parks. The Marine and Coastal Management branch funds marine management through annual grants to the conservation agencies and through special projects, lumped together under "Coast care."

Three of South Africa’s nine provinces are located within the hotspot, namely Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape (technically, the hotspot boundary also includes small fragments of the Limpopo and Western Cape provinces, but these are insignificant in scale). Each province has a dedicated department dealing with environmental affairs (mostly coupled with tourism or agriculture), and a conservation authority which is established as a public entity with its own board reporting to the member of the Executive Committee (MEC, provincial level minister) responsible for conservation. This conservation authority is responsible for managing biodiversity within and outside protected areas (except in the case of the Eastern Cape, where the mandate is limited to on-reserve). The relevant institutions are: in the Mpumalanga Province, the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA); in KwaZulu-Natal Province, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife; and in the Eastern Cape Province, Eastern Cape Parks Board (ECPB). While MTPA and Ezemvelo are known for their strong institutional capacity for conservation, the newly established ECPB still requires institutional development support to effectively manage its important reserves. The UNDP-GEF is supporting the ECPB to develop the basic capacities and support reserve co-management in the "Wild Coast" or Pondoland North Coast Key Biodiversity Area, although the institutional capacity will have positive implications for all key biodiversity areas in the province. The responsibility for managing biodiversity outside of protected areas in the Eastern Cape rests with Department of Economic Development and Environmental Affairs. The issue of which institution takes primary responsibility for stewardship needs to be resolved to enable the development of an effective unit to drive this important strategy.

At the local level, the various district and local municipalities also fulfill biodiversity management functions; particularly related to new developments, waste management and municipal nature reserves. However, provincial and municipal plans and priorities are often contradictory and integration of biodiversity plans into municipal ones is of strategic importance.


Swaziland has relatively robust environmental legislation but implementation is not always effective, partly due to conflicting responsibilities between various government ministries. The Swaziland National Trust Commission Act grants the Swaziland National Trust Commission (SNTC), a parastatal reporting to the Ministry of Tourism and Environmental Affairs, the powers to proclaim national parks, nature reserves and monuments. In addition, the Game Act and the Plant Protection Act have been promulgated to safeguard fauna and flora, while other relevant legislation includes the draft National Biodiversity Bill, the Protection of Fresh Water Fish Act, the Wild Birds Protection Act and the Environment Management Act.

The Ministry of Tourism and Environmental Affairs, which houses the Swaziland Environment Authority (SEA), SNTC and the Forestry Department, is the primary custodian of biodiversity in Swaziland and governs laws pertaining to environmental management, protected areas and plant resources in and outside of protected areas. Both the SNTC and SEA are parastatal organizations funded by government but operating under independent boards appointed by the Minister of Tourism and Environmental Affairs. The King’s Office is also a key custodian of biodiversity and governs laws pertaining to game as well as CITES.

Approximately 70 percent of land in Swaziland is Swazi Nation Land communally settled and used under the control of traditional chiefs. As such, chiefs play a key role in the management and use of biodiversity outside of protected areas at the local level and they have a direct link to the king via traditional governance. In parallel to this, central government functions are carried out at the local level by regional administrators arranged into four regions, three of which are represented in the hotspot and each of which is further divided into smaller constituencies or wards called Tinkundla, each comprising several chiefdoms. Such a system is complex with potential conflicts in roles and responsibilities.

Big Game Parks, a not-for-profit perpetual trust, acts as the management authority for three of the six parks under formal conservation and nearly half of the total area under formal conservation. In addition and uniquely, the head of state through the King’s Office delegated Big Game Parks to act as the CITES and Game Act authority for Swaziland.

Regional Agreements

The primary regional agreements between the three countries in the hotspot that pertain to conservation are the two Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA) agreements.


The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park Treaty signed in 2002, links the Kruger National Park in South Africa with the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique and the Gonarezhou National Park, Manjinji Pan Sanctuary and Malipati Safari Area in Zimbabwe. The Great Limpopo Joint Management Board developed a five-year integrated development and business plan that guides its work and provides a comprehensive package of business and investment opportunities. While the hotspot includes a portion of Kruger National Park and also Limpopo National Park, the rest of these areas lie out of the area and hence this treaty is of lesser importance here.


The General Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation and Resource Area Protocol signed in 2000 created the Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation Area along the Lubombo Mountains, including various conservation areas in Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland. Specific protocols were also signed to represent smaller transfrontier parks between the countries, namely the Nsubane-Pongola TFCA (Swaziland and South Africa), the Lubombo Conservancy-Goba TFCA (Mozambique and Swaziland), the Usuthu-Tembe-Futi TFCA (Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland) and the Kosi Bay-Ponta do Ouro TFCA (Mozambique and South Africa). A Ministerial Committee and a commission comprised of heads of the conservation agencies responsible for protected area management in the various protocol areas were established.

The Lubombo Protocol is of particular relevance to Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany because the area covered by the protocol lies at the hub of a number of the key biodiversity areas. The investment can, therefore, build into the functional relationships that have already been established. In addition, the protocol facilitates cross-border movement, information/data sharing and skills transfer. In summary, there are good synergies between this protocol and conservation action in this corridor region of the hotspot.

International Conventions

All three countries in the hotspot are signatories to a number of international agreements promoting biodiversity conservation and sustainable natural resource use (see Table 9).

Table 9. Participation in International Agreements by the Three Countries in the Hotspot

Agreement Swaziland South Africa Mozambique
The Convention on Wetlands X X
World Heritage Site Convention X X
Convention to Combat Desertification X X X
Framework Convention on Climate Change X X X

Civil Society Framework

Civil society has an important role to play in biodiversity conservation and the restoration of ecosystem health within the hotspot. Although the number, strength and effectiveness of civil society organizations differ across the three hotspot countries, efforts that expand their ability to complement and strengthen government initiatives are likely to have a tremendous impact on leveraging capacity and scaling up conservation results. Of the three countries, South Africa has the strongest and most active civil society. Thousands of organizations are involved in activities related to biodiversity conservation, climate change, agricultural support, youth and gender issues, and health. New financing to South African civil society organizations is likely to promote innovative and pioneering approaches to conservation that will have the potential to influence global as well as national paradigms. Specifically, South African civil society is primed to catalyze and source co-financing for new biodiversity-based approaches to climate change mitigation and adaptation, the integration of terrestrial and marine conservation action in key biodiversity areas, payment for ecosystem services (including biodiversity and water), land reform and biodiversity stewardship, and for links between HIV and conservation.

With few exceptions, local civil society organizations in Swaziland and Mozambique are weak and are frequently limited in terms of capacity, political leverage and program development. As a result, international and regional organizations with access to greater resources and leverage play a much larger role in Swaziland and Mozambique. Expanding opportunities for civil society in Swaziland and Mozambique (especially support for local organizations that are focused on conservation or other land-use activities) could have a lasting legacy, not only within the hotspot but also throughout these countries, as capacity is built to integrate biodiversity concerns into their programs.

A key opportunity within Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany civil society framework is provided by conservation initiatives that already span two or all three of the hotspot countries. For example, the Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation and Resource Area presents a major opportunity for scaling up impacts. This TFCA initiative has attracted substantial resources and the Peace Parks Foundation reports that effectiveness of the initiative is demonstrated by animal numbers over the last five years. The TFCA is actively promoting conservation in four key transfrontier regions, three of which are in the hotspot:
  1. Usuthu-Tembe-Futi (Swaziland-South Africa-Mozambique Eastern Licuati Forests and Swazi Lubombo and Ponto d’Ouro key biodiversity areas), an important region of swamp and other forest that support ancient elephant migration patterns.
  2. The Ponto d’Ouro-Kosi Bay Marine and Coastal TFCA (Mozambique-South Africa; Ponto d’Ouro Key Biodiversity Area) which links the Ponto d’Ouro-Inhaca Coastline to South Africa’s St. Lucia Wetland Reserve.
  3. Nsubane-Pongola (South Africa/Swaziland; Pongola-Magudu and Licuati Forest and Eastern Swazi Lubombo key biodiversity areas).
Although the Lubombo TFCA program is well resourced, the primary focus has been on infrastructure development. The role of civil society in Swaziland and Mozambique to support/expand conservation efforts in the region could be strengthened. Another transfrontier initiative is located north of Lubombo, the Greater Limpopo. Although only 5 percent of the area falls within the hotspot, efforts in Limpopo can be scaled up to support civil society involvement in the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany key biodiversity areas in Mozambique in particular.

Other southern African country initiatives involving all three hotspot countries, and where civil society’s role to generate conservation benefits could be enhanced, include conservation initiatives, such as the Southern African Botanical Network, Endangered Wildlife Trust Working Groups and the South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Programme, as well as other regional initiatives focused on governance, health and food security.

Another current effort initiated in 2009 in which civil society currently collaborates with government but where collaboration affects conservation in the hotspot is the Land Reform, Communal Lands and Biodiversity Stewardship Initiative. The initiative is spearheaded by SANBI, the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, and the Department of Environmental Affairs and was catalyzed by Conservation International-South Africa. The key is to use stewardship, implemented by the relevant conservation authority in partnership with the landowners/users, civil society and all relevant government departments. The overarching goal is to demonstrate the successful delivery of both socioeconomic and conservation benefits at a project level by establishing a network of learning and community of practice linking land reform and biodiversity stewardship. The initiative has only been active for one year, and in the KwaZulu-Natal key biodiversity areas three land reform stewardship sites are being implemented and two others have been identified. Although a number of sites have been identified in the Eastern Cape key biodiversity areas, they are not yet active because it is currently unclear which conservation authority is responsible to drive stewardship. However, overall, the initiative has successfully created a network of conservation and land practitioners who are beginning to better understand the needs of both sectors and how to create viable land reform/communal lands stewardship and community-based livelihoods projects.

Areas in which there are significant gaps in civil society involvement are in freshwater and marine management in the hotspot. Freshwater systems are increasingly being recognized by the research community as a vital system for biodiversity and society, and civil society action to address the direct threats to these systems from over-abstraction, pollution, and catchment degradation would complement government efforts to improve water management. Similarly, the marine environment provides significant opportunities for civil society, especially in the fields of research and monitoring, but also in the development of new and innovative tourism products related to the non-consumptive use of the rich marine resources of the hotspot.

The sections below summarize the existing civil society environment in the hotspot regions of the three countries.


From a weak base in the late 1990s (as the government shifted from a centralized to a decentralized development strategy), civil society has slowly emerged as a development partner for government in Mozambique. This growth in civil society organizations is linked to the influx of foreign aid, particularly for emergency relief and rehabilitation programs, that has flooded into the country and the financial opportunity that this presents in a country where formal employment levels are very low. The majority of civil society organizations are funded either by their members, international NGOs, or bilateral donors. This may be a drawback for civil society in that it creates the impression in some government circles that civil society organizations are implementing directives from their funding entities. Another potential obstacle to civil society development is that registering an organization is complicated by a bureaucracy that involves all levels of government, and established organizations struggle to ensure compliance with existing laws and are ultimately marginalized in political processes. There are no explicit favorable tax laws in Mozambique but they are, in principle, exempt from paying value-added tax (IVA) and other fiscal charges. All organizations can receive funds from foreign investment. Nevertheless, civil society in Mozambique can and should be mobilized to play an important role for conservation in support of government objectives in the hotspot.

Two international conservation NGOs currently active in the hotspot region of Mozambique are the Peace Parks Foundation and IUCN. Peace Parks Foundation provides technical support and co-financing for the Transfrontier Conservation Area Project implemented in the Lubombo and Limpopo TFCAs, and also funds the park manager at the Limpopo National Park. The IUCN’s program in Mozambique has been scaled down; however IUCN continues to work with local communities in the Licuati Forest as well as in the adjacent Djabula area, through its Livelihoods and Landscape Strategy (LLS) Programme. The aim in the Licuati/Djabula area is to work with the local communities to collect sandalwood (Spirotochys africana), either the offcuts from charcoal producers or from the litter layer, and sell them to the artisans in Maputo. This yields three benefits: i) the community benefits from the income; ii) the artisans, who have been purchasing wood at an elevated price from the bread factories (that use sandalwood to fire their ovens), get wood at a lower cost; and iii) the demand for raw wood from the forests drop as the bread factories only buy what they need for baking. Also, IUCN together with the National Forestry and Land Directorate is working with the Mahel Locality in Magude District to assist with the establishment of a community game farm. This builds on a community-based natural resource management plan for the area that was produced by the FAO in 1999, and to alleviate the conflict and illegal killing of wildlife that takes place in the area. The idea is to create incentives through employment in the form of community wildlife guards. Thereafter, once wildlife is recognized and accepted as an income source, the plan is to fence the area, populate it with wildlife and provide water sources.

The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) was previously active in the area developing a conservation program with the Massangir community. However, when people were re-settled into the area and some of the land allocated to large-scale sugar cane production, AWF withdrew from the project. This withdrawal was both due to the poor alignment of government programs with their conservation objectives and due to financial challenges from the recent recession. New resources might enable them to re-engage in what was a conceptually strong initiative.

National civil society organizations in Mozambique are few and tend to work at a community scale for specific development objectives (such as sanitation, education, HIV/AIDS, agricultural extension, etc.). These organizations could be supported to expand their efforts and geographic range, and integrate biodiversity concerns and outcomes into their work. Additionally, in recognition of the need to address the devastating poverty and associated challenges in the region, partnerships between these organizations and conservation entities could develop projects that have both ecological and social outcomes. The Umzi Yethu project of the Wilderness Foundation in South Africa, which supports HIV orphans to secure jobs in the conservation sector (for example in wilderness guiding or safari lodges), is an excellent example of an initiative that could be replicated in Mozambique.

Various research institutions currently exist within the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MADER, National Institution of Agronomy Research), the Ministry of Fisheries (Fisheries Research Institute) and in Eduardo Mondlane University (Department of Biological Sciences and Natural History Museum). Within the hotspot area in southern Mozambique there has been a recent conservation planning process in the Lubombo TFCA carried out by the Durrell Institute for Conservation and Ecology of the University of Kent at Canterbury, U.K., in partnership with the University of Eduardo Mondlane. This partnership is now also undertaking a conservation planning process for the Limpopo TFCA. Nongovernmental organizations have also been active in research in the area, with a focus on surveying and monitoring, particularly in marine ecosystems. Turtles have been the focus of much of the work, which culminated with the establishment of the Mozambique Marine Turtle Working Group (Grupo de Trabalho de Tartarugas Marinhas de Mocambique). It brought together many stakeholders including large, international NGOs (WWF-Mozambique), local communities, private sector operators (such as SCUBA operators) and, more recently, the Associação para Investigação Costeira e Marinha. Unfortunately, in the terrestrial realm the history of conflict has meant that these plans are based on thin research and there remains a huge need for expanding and making accessible the knowledge relevant for conservation planning.

Finally, Centro Terra Viva is a national environmental research and advocacy NGO established in 2002. This organization seeks specifically to strengthen civil society presence and participation in national decision-making processes – a process in which it has had some success and from which lessons may be learned. For example, the NGO has made good use of applied research on environmental law and policies, and on ecosystems and biodiversity, to create advocacy tools and to provide technical knowledge and information in the policy development processes. The research is also used to support environmental education and training.

There are more than 400 nongovernmental organizations listed in the 2008 edition of the Directory of Development Organizations for Mozambique, but it is not known how many of these are active in the Maputaland region specifically. Central to civil society organizations in Mozambique is the “G20” – The National Platform of Civil Society for Participation in the Poverty Observatory (which is well supported by bilateral donors). This is comprised of the strongest civil society organizations – peasant farmers’ associations, NGOs, networks, trade unions, faith-based organizations, business sector, academics and investigation institutions, youth and women’s organizations, professional associations and vulnerable groups (elderly, children and disabled organizations). As a percentage of registered civil society organizations, religious organizations are particularly prevalent (53 percent, 2007 data) with more than half the population claiming membership in a faith-based organization; advocacy and lobbying organizations are next (12 percent). Other organizations include cultural, recreational, educational (9 percent); community organizations (9 percent); health (<5 percent); social services (<5 percent); development and housing (<5 percent); donors and philanthropists (<5 percent); and professional associations (5 percent). When considering the broad gamut of civil society organizations across the country, environmental groups comprise a tiny proportion (<1 percent). Of all organizations and beyond the environmental/conservation organizations, farmers’ associations and other community groups may provide the most obvious entry points as partners for investment. Because of their relative strength and prevalence, it may also be useful to engage with faith-based organizations that promote social development.


National biodiversity conservation NGOs in Swaziland are active at various levels, from awareness and lobbying to field-based conservation management. They include the following: All Out Africa Foundation (also active in Mozambique), which facilitates volunteer and financial support for conservation and development programs; the Swaziland Natural History Society, which supports conservation and education projects; and the Lubombo Conservancy and the Shewula Trust, a group established with support from the Peace Parks Foundation that undertakes conservation management and seeks to reintroduce species to a grouping of private and state conservation areas within the Lebombo Moutains. A national NGO active in more general environmental work is Yonge Nawe. Regional NGOs active in biodiversity conservation in Swaziland include the Peace Parks Foundation and Endangered Wildlife Trust (birds of prey working group). The international NGO, COSPE, is also active in more general environmental work and supports the Lubombo Conservancy in Maputaland.

Swaziland lacks broad capacity to carry out biodiversity monitoring and applied conservation research. However, the Endangered Wildlife Trust, All Out Africa Foundation, and University of Swaziland currently carry out some biodiversity monitoring and research on birds of prey and have the potential to expand their efforts to support long-term conservation in the Maputaland region of the hotspot.

Other civil society groups in Swaziland are summarized in Table 11.

South Africa-Maputaland, Pondoland, Albany

South Africa has the strongest civil society sector in the hotspot, both in terms of conservation and other social and natural resource issues. National conservation NGOs such as Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA), Botanical Society of South Africa, World Wide Fund for Nature-South Africa, Birdlife South Africa, Endangered Wildlife Trust, Peace Parks Foundation and the Wilderness Foundation have had a long history of working to promote and implement biodiversity conservation actions both in South Africa and the wider southern Africa region. Over time they have generated strong linkages with conservation authorities, academic institutions and agencies of government at local, provincial and national levels. Along with the relative new comers of the Wildlands Conservation Trust (WCT), Conservation International South Africa, the South African National Biodiversity Institute (a parastatal under the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs), and scores of other smaller organizations, NGOs have built a solid policy and implementation platform for biodiversity conservation in the country.

Within the hotspot, WESSA is active in all three centers and focuses on environmental education and influencing policy. The Botanical Society (BotSoc) maintains a wide membership that is regularly mobilized through the organization’s magazine “Veld and Flora,” which provides regular opportunities for members to get involved in conservation activities such as alien invasive plant clearing and monitoring of rare and endangered plants with SANBI’s CREW program. BotSoc, however, no longer has an active implementation program for conservation activities in the region. WWF-South Africa supports stewardship activities in Maputaland and is particularly involved in black rhino conservation by private and community stewards, especially in the Zululand Corridor. WWF is also involved in engaging the sugar cane industry in best practices and is particularly involved in efforts to conserve coastal and marine resources off the KZN coast. Birdlife South Africa and the Endangered Wildlife Trust support extension staff in the region, also primarily in the Maputaland area, to raise awareness and participation by farmers and local government in the conservation of species of special concern. Specific efforts in the region have focused on cranes, blue swallows, vultures and wild dogs. Wildlands Conservation Trust (WCT) has a formal partnership with the provincial conservation agency in KZN, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, to support protected area management and also implements its own programs in the rural and urban areas of Maputaland that seek to integrate social upliftment with conservation outcomes. The signature project for WCT in the hotspot is its Indigenous Trees for Life project, which is described under the climate change section of this document.

The Wilderness Foundation has a long history of political awareness raising through its wilderness hikes with policymakers and has strong political influence as a result. The organization also works in the Albany thicket region of the hotspot on stewardship and ecosystem restoration, and has built a strong working demonstration of civil society-government partnerships within the Eastern Cape that has a major focus on Pondoland. Conservation International South Africa uses the CEPF ecosystem profile development process to determine gaps and its consequent activities in a hotspot, and as a result has not been directly active in the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany Hotspot to date. However, Conservation International South Africa has provided financial assistance to stewardship efforts in all three centers, Maputaland, Pondoland and Albany, and is also indirectly involved in the region through the Climate Action Partnership, which is described in more detail later in this document.

In addition to these large NGOs, there are various smaller NGOs active in the South African region of the hotspot. The Resource Restoration Group is a science-focused organization that conducts research and advises on national and private restoration projects in Pondoland and Albany. The Landmark Foundation is focused on environmentally friendly predator management primarily in the Albany center in the Eastern Cape. Pondocrop supports smallholder agriculture in Pondoland, and Sustaining the Wild Coast is a small but very active group that has played an important role in supporting environmentally friendly livelihoods in the Pondoland North Coast (in partnership with Endangered Wildlife Trust) and is a watchdog on developments in the fragile Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape. Finally, Space for Elephants seeks to create corridors in the Zululand Corridor, Maputaland, for elephant movement.

It is extremely easy to register a nonprofit organization or Section 21 company in South Africa – most are companies bought through “off the shelf” trading under different names. Many new NGOs are emerging as awareness about the conservation and development opportunities in the hotspot increases. There are no rules preventing NGOs from receiving foreign donor funding, however, being a nonprofit organization or Section 21 does not immediately exempt a company from paying taxes and another process is required to gain an exemption from the Revenue Service on donor funding. One example of a new NGO coming into the region is the Simasonke Institute for Science and Conservation. The institute will be based in rural Eastern Cape and will develop viable ways to manage land conservation and restoration and ecological monitoring and scientific inquiry, as well as education and community outreach initiatives in Pondoland. The organization will offer independent, scientific guidance, ensuring that the land and environment of rural investments are protected and healthy.

There are several other civil society actors in South Africa that are not currently involved in the conservation of the hotspot whose expertise could be useful in the region. Examples of such organizations include: TRAFFIC-South Africa, which works on building enforcement capacity around illegal plant and wildlife trade; the Green Connection, which works at a grassroots level to deliver appropriate energy and livelihood technologies to improve socioeconomic conditions and reduce negative impacts on the environment; and the Black Sash, which works extensively in the hotspot on food security issues.

South Africa has well-developed academic institutions, including universities and forums that underpin scientific grounds for conservation action and that also leverage large amounts of donor funding for projects, particularly with regards to charismatic megafauna conservation and ecosystem restoration. Nelson Mandela Metropole University Terrestrial Ecology Research Unit undertakes much critical ecological research in the region. Large research programs on agriculture and climate change, such as the work of the Centre for Environment, Agriculture and Development at the University of KZN on livestock production, and the University of Fort Hare’s agriculture work provide crucial information for conservation planning activities and complement the scientific services sections of the conservation agencies in the region.

Finally, most small businesses in rural areas in the hotspot are registered as cooperatives or companies and can play an important role in conservation in the region. The South African Department of Trade and Industry actively promotes the establishment of cooperatives through the Companies and Intellectual Property Regulatory Office. Cooperatives consist of five or more people and most vegetable garden projects, craft projects, nguni cattle breeding projects, etc., are established as cooperatives. Cooperatives enjoy various tax exemptions, but are not fully exempt. Furthermore, cooperatives usually function well only for very small projects as the banking sector limits their ability to function as larger businesses. Other micro, small and medium enterprises are registered under the Companies Act as either closed corporations, partnerships, Pty (Ltd) or a variety of different formats.

A summary of the extensive number of civil society organizations in the region that could be mobilized to support conservation action in South Africa is provided in Table 11.

Table 10. Summary of Civil Society Groups in South Africa with Potential for Conservation Engagement

Sector Status – law and description Examples
Communal land holding associations Communities can organize themselves into associations or trusts or other legal entities and can be apportioned land by the chief. Community trusts who have received land can act to improve management of their areas and to plan incorporation under formal conservation through stewardship. The Shewula Community Trust has been formed to manage a community conservation area as part of the Lubombo Conservancy. Other examples include community agriculture associations. There are NGOs such as All Out Africa working with these community associations
Ethno-linguistic-based associations Since Swaziland is comprised of basically one ethno-linguistic group, the Swazi people (other than a small minority of African immigrants, Europeans and Asians), there are not many ethno-linguistic-based associations of relevance. No significant ethno-linguistic associations.
Fisherfolk associations There is a fishing club of Swaziland. In areas where local subsistence fishing is practiced, this is regulated fairly loosely through traditional authorities. The fishing club of Swaziland has links with conservation. People relying on subsistence fishing are not currently organized into specific associations. Access to all natural resources is usually regulated through established traditional authorities, apart from in areas where land is under formal conservation. In the latter case, there are usually agreements between the authorities on the use of these resources.
Agriculture and livestock producer cooperatives The Ministry of Agriculture encourages people, especially in rural areas, to establish cooperatives. The focus is particularly in agriculture (sugar cane small-grower schemes, vegetable gardens). Cooperatives are established by the Ministry. Many small projects, especially those producing considerable profits, have moved away from co-ops and are registering companies as a way to ensure greater independence of government. There are at least 50 sugar cane small-grower entities (companies and cooperatives). The vegetable and other food crop small-grower schemes are fewer in number. The main NGO currently working in the agricultural field with cooperatives is Swaziland Water and Agricultural Development Enterprises, which is well resourced by the International Fund for Agricultural Development.
Micro/small enterprise cooperatives (honey, oils, textiles, etc.) There are large numbers of micro/small enterprises in Swaziland. These are often small businesses established as companies but sometimes are run as cooperatives. Micro/small enterprises include craft businesses (grass mats, mohair, carvings, beadwork, etc.), food processing enterprises (honey, jams, etc.), beauty/pharmaceutical product enterprises (marula oils, creams, etc.). Phytotrade is an organization that works with many small producers.
HIV/AIDS As a result of the number of people in southern Africa infected with HIV/AIDS, there are various civil society organizations active in this field. Although some work is focused on the scientific side of curing the pandemic, the larger role of these groups is in comforting and assisting people affected, such as orphans and child-headed families. The HIV/AIDS campaign is led by the National Emergency Response Council for HIV and AIDS, which is a channel for large amounts of donor funding. Numerous NGOs are involved in HIV/AIDS work, and many tend to be geographically focused.

Table 11. Summary of Civil Society Groups in South Africa with Potential for Conservation Engagement

Sector Status – law and description Examples
Communal land holding associations South African law provides for the creation of a legal entity defined as a Communal Property Association (CPAs) to hold land on behalf of a community. There are literally hundreds of these CPAs registered. In the KwaZulu-Natal Province communities established Trusts rather than CPAs, especially in cases where land restored was owned by government and administered by the Ingonyama Trust Board. There are hundreds of small CPAs and community trusts. NGOs such as WCT at Somkhanda in the Pongola-Magudu Key Biodiversity Area and WWF-South Africa in the Zulu Rhino Reserve in Hwulhwe-Mkhuze Key Biodiversity Area are supporting them to reintroduce wildlife, particularly Black Rhino for tourism, to improve management of their areas, and to plan incorporation under formal conservation through stewardship.
Ethno-linguistic-based associations The larger associations have been recently politicized (the Inkhata Freedom Party for example acting as a cultural movement for the Zulu people). The only significant ethno-linguistic minority in the area is the Tembe-Thonga people, who have not formed a specific association as this would indicate defiance of the Zulu Royal Household. However, they sought legal means to achieve independence via the so-called Nhlapo Commission. No significant ethno-linguistic associations that are not politicized.
Fisherfolk associations Not applicable, apart from large sport-fishing associations such as the Kayak Fishing Association and various Under Water and Flyfishing clubs. In areas where local subsistence fishing is practiced, this is regulated and championed through traditional authorities and councils. People relying on subsistence fishing are not currently organized into specific associations. Access to all natural resources is usually regulated through established traditional authorities, apart from in areas where land is under formal conservation. In the latter case, there are usually agreements between the authorities on the use of these resources.
Agriculture and livestock producer cooperatives The Department of Trade and Industry actively encourages people, especially in rural areas, to establish cooperatives. The focus is particularly in agriculture (Nguni cattle breeding, vegetable gardens). Cooperatives are established by the South Africa’s Companies and Intellectual Property Regulatory Office and need to consist of at least five people.
,br />Many small projects, especially those producing considerable profits, have moved away from co-ops and are registering as nonprofit organizations as a way to ensure continued support from donors.
The list of current cooperatives would be exhaustive. Below is a list of NGOs currently working in the agricultural field with various cooperatives: SANGOCO, (SA National NGO Coalition), Africa Co-operative Action Trust, African Nation Building, AFRICARE, Agricultural and Rural Development Corporation, Agricultural and Rural Development Research Institute, University of Fort Hare, Albert Luthuli Development Trust, Association for Rural Advancement, Border Rural Committee, Business Advice Centre, Centre for Low Input Agricultural Research and Development, East Cape Agricultural Research Project, East Cape Land Committee, Ecolink Environmental Education Trust, Educate and Develop, Emandleni-Mtaleng Camp, Farmer Support Group, University of Natal, Insika Rural Development Association, KwaZulu-Natal Peace Committee Development Unit, Lima Rural Development Foundation, Microprojects Programme Trust, Midlands Community College, The Valley Trust, Transkei Land Service Organisation, Vulamehlo Development Council, Zisizeni Association for Development.
Micro/small enterprise cooperatives (honey, oils, textiles, etc.) As stated above, there are literally thousands of cooperatives in South Africa. In the KwaZulu-Natal Province alone there are 1,020 registered cooperatives currently benefitting from a government finance scheme of some 220 million rands channeled through the Ithala Development Corporation. The Daily Bread Project is a network initiative to help members of the communities in South Africa form cooperatives and open their own bakeries.
HIV/AIDS As a result of the number of people in southern Africa infected with HIV/AIDS, there are various civil society organizations active on this field. Although some of the work is focused on the scientific side of curing the pandemic, the larger role of these groups is in comforting and assisting people affected by the pandemic, such as orphans and child-headed families. AIDS Consortium, AIDS Foundation of South Africa, AIDS Law Project, Centre for AIDS Development, Research and Evaluation, Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa, Centre for HIV/AIDS Networking, Children in Distress Network, HIV for South Africa, Homes for Kids in South Africa, National Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS – SA, Nurturing orphans of AIDS for Humanity and the Treatment Action Campaign.
Document: Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany Ecosystem Profile, April 2010
English (PDF - 2.8 MB)