Biodiversity Stewardship Programme


KZN is home to a rich diversity of plant and animal life. Only a small proportion of this diversity, however, and only 53% of priority species, receive protection within the existing protected area network. Currently, at least 80% of the important biodiversity lies outside formally protected areas, on privately or communally owned land, making strategic partnerships with landowners crucial if our natural heritage is to be conserved.

The Biodiversity Stewardship Programme is a good tool for improving the conservation management of sites of biodiversity significance while maintaining the productivity of the landscape for landowners. Proactive partnerships and cooperative management are the key ingredients of natural resource management and custodianship. A further aim of the programme is the creation of a network of protected areas, linked as corridors across the landscape, in order to improve the ability of species to adapt to climate change.  Stewardship processes identify land of critical importance for biodiversity conservation and/or the provision of ecosystem services, and encourage landowners to engage in biodiversity conservation and other sustainable land use practices.


Early in 2011, the MCF steering committee submitted a proposal, to the Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund (CEPF)/Wildlands Conservation Trust selection panel, to support a Biodiversity Stewardship Project (MCF-BSP) in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands. 

The CEPF is a joint initiative of Conservation International, the Global Environment Facility, the government of Japan, the MacArthur Foundation, the World Bank and the French Development Agency, designed to safeguard the world's threatened biodiversity hotspots in developing countries. 

A fundamental purpose of the CEPF is to ensure that civil society is actively participating in conserving biodiversity in the hotspots. The Wildlands Conservation Trust is the regional implementing team for the CEPF investment. Wildlands is responsible for soliciting, designing and awarding grants to civil society organisations and community groups that will protect biodiversity and strengthen the role of civil society in conservation. 

Macro ecological corridors of prime importance showing current MCF-BSP sites

Biodiversity Stewardship involves formal, legally binding agreements with landowners for a minimum of 30 years.  They maintain ownership of their land, receive guidance and management assistance, and are offered support to diversify their land-based activities while protecting the country's unique biodiversity against the threat of climate change.

Detail showing MCF-BSP sites

Potential hectarage to be proclaimed under the MCF Biodiversity Stewardship Programme


Gareth Boothway, the MCF-BSP project manager is tasked with ensuring that the areas of Dargle, Karkloof, Fort Nottingham and Umgenyane, which are currently in the process of having land proclaimed under the Biodiversity Stewardship Programme, are officially conserved for biodiversity. Thereafter, he will work on expanding the existing area, adding new areas and creating Biodiversity Corridors.

Gareth Boothway, Isobel Johnson and Ulla Heckert conducting a biodiversity index survey


You can contact Gareth on 076 239 4267, or at

To read more about the activities of the MCF-BSP click on the following links: and