Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa has called on all South Africans to step up efforts to protect biodiversity, which supports a massive proportion of the country’s livelihood.
“Our vast wealth of biodiversity - our variety of life from genes, species and ecosystems, offers us a suite of natural solutions in the face of unemployment, rising poverty and climate change,” Molewa said onrecently.
Speaking at the launch of the National Biodiversity Assessment 2011 report, during International Day for Biodiversity celebrations at iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Molewa said biodiversity was the basis for human and socio-economic development. She warned that failure to protect it was self-defeating, and the biggest losers in the end would be the rural poor.
“This is because many of our communities are directly dependent on biodiversity and ecosystems services. Ecosystems supply food and fuel, clean our air and water, and help regulate our climate... In short, they provide a wide range of ... ecosystem services upon which our well-being and livelihoods as humanity depends.
“The benefits of biodiversity, or the natural capital as it is known, are estimated at R73 billion, contributing to 7% of South Africa’s GDP per annum. This is our competitive edge in growing our economy and addressing climate change adaptation.”
The 2011 report is a comprehensive technical assessment of South Africa’s biodiversity and ecosystems across terrestrial, freshwater, estuarine and marine environments.
The assessment focuses on spatial biodiversity information including species and ecosystems. It processes key aspects of South Africa’s biodiversity science and makes the information available in a useful context to policymakers, decision-makers and practitioners in a range of sectors.