The Agulhas Biodiversity Initiative (ABI) is a landscape initiative set up in 2003 under the overarching fynbos conservation and development programme, Cape Action for People and the Environment (C.A.P.E). During the first phase (2003-2010). ABI became a successful multi-stakeholder partnership between 25 organisations, all involved in conservation efforts. The partners, including landowners, government, the private sector and other conservation organisations, implemented a number of projects and programmes aimed at conserving biodiversity and promoting economic development on the Agulhas Plain.

Why was this important? At the launch of ABI, it was found that only around 14 percent of the Agulhas Plain - an area of around 270,000 hectares, containing critically endangered fynbos and important wetlands - was being formally conserved. The region constitutes one of the largest extant storehouses of lowland fynbos and Renosterveld habitats in the world, not to mention the number of Red data plants species found here. This realisation brought about a collective shift in the minds of many landowners, government departments and conservationists alike: that this natural heritage needed immediate conservation action. Between 2003 and 2010, that's exactly what was achieved under ABI Phase 1 (see ABI Phase 1 for more). The result? Some 50 percent of the area now enjoys formal protection - in some instances, through the formation of groundbreaking new collective groupings.

Today ABI offers partners involved in conservation, social development, and other relevant fields, the opportunity to meet, share and work together to maximize our conservation efforts. More partners continue to come on board across the entire Overberg - ABI's new focus area. As such, ABI's role is to identify players and resources, and find ways to improve connections between them. The overarching focus in all activities is to enhance sustainability, institutionalisation and long-term viability. The ABI partnership will also continue to play a leading role in coordinating public-private sector engagement as well as encouraging inter- and intra-government debate and cooperation on agriculture, conservation and local economic development.

Currently ABI's interim coordination office is being run by Flower Valley Conservation Trust, a non-governmental organisation based in the Overberg. This interim coordination unit receives oversight from the ABI Steering Committee, which consists of private landowners, government department officials and conservation organisation heads. They in turn are accountable to the broader stakeholder group who met at Baarskeerdersbos in 2011, to put the second phase in motion. ABI's four themes, initially chosen during this foundation meeting but subsequently updated, also each have a theme leader. 

The interim coordination unit can be reached on 028 425 2218, or email on info@agulhasbiodiversity.co.za.


Follow ABI on Twitter: ABI (@AgulhasBI), or on Facebook (www.facebook.com/agulhasbi)



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