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Conservation Services

Garden Route: Scientific Services

Monitoring Programmes

The Rondevlei Office of Scientific Services in partnerships with park staff are, in accordance with environmental legislation and commitments relevant to Park Management plans, developing procedures for monitoring biodiversity indicators. The first available draft plans for Wilderness National Park and Bontebok National Park details proposed environmental monitoring programs.

Many natural ecosystems are inherently variable both across the landscape and over time. The constantly changing nature of natural ecosystems (sometimes described as flux) is one of the major dictates of biotic diversity, which is most readily apparent as the distribution and abundance of plants and animals. The maintenance of these natural changes in ecosystems is embodied in the biodiversity conservation objectives of national parks. However, changes that man has imposed on ecosystems can unfortunately alter the nature and extent of natural variability and hence biotic diversity, which could lead to some conservation objectives not being achieved.

Monitoring is a process whereby attributes of selected indicators are described and evaluated to test the achievement of objectives. Obviously it would be impossible to monitor change in all components of the natural environment in parks, therefore indicators are selected (e.g. water quality, bird numbers, plant biomass, etc) as surrogates for broad ecosystem changes.

Thresholds of Potential Concern (TPCs) form component of the monitoring approach and are predefined and collectively agreed upon limits of how much change in the natural environment we are prepared to accept. These limits should thus ideally encompass the amount of variability we would expect in a naturally functioning ecosystem, yet exclude extremes of change that man may be artificially imposing on the ecosystem and which may be detrimental for one or more ecosystem components. When a TPC is exceeded this would suggest that a park objective may not be achieved. In this circumstance a management phase would be entered into in which the relevant monitoring and park management actions are evaluated, and where appropriate they are adapted to address the situation.

The Rondevlei Office of Scientific Services in partnership with park staff are, in accordance with environmental legislation and commitments relevant to park management plans, developing procedures for monitoring biodiversity indicators. The first available draft plans for Wilderness NP and Bontebok NP details proposed environmental monitoring programs.

Internal comments on these draft plans are encouraged. Readers who wish to make comments are requested to contact the following personnel: