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Highly resolved, well-dated paleoclimate records from the southern South African coast are needed to contextualize the evolution of the highly diverse extratropical plant communities of the Greater Cape Floristic Region (GCFR) and to assess the environmental impacts on early human hunter-gatherers. We present new speleothem stable oxygen and carbon isotope ratios (δ18Oc and δ13C) from two caves at Pinnacle Point, South Africa, covering the time between 330 and 43 ka. Composite δ18Oc and δ13C records were constructed for Staircase Cave and PP29 by combining all stable isotope analyses into a single time series and smoothing by a 3-point running mean. δ18Oc and δ13C values record changes in rainfall seasonality and the proportions of C3 and C4 plants in the vegetation, respectively. We show that in general increased summer rainfall brought about a wider spread of C4 grasses and retreat of the C3 plant–dominated GCFR communities. The occurrence of summer rainfall on the southern coast of South Africa was linked to total rainfall amounts in the interior region through tropical temperate troughs. These rainfall systems shifted the southern coastal climate toward more summer (winter) rainfall when precession was high (low) and/or the westerlies were in a northern (southern) position.
Local land-use planning procedures are increasingly recognized as potentially crucial to ensure off-reserve biodiversity protection. Mainstreaming systematic conservation planning maps in these decision-making procedures has been proposed as a mechanism to achieve this. However, research is lacking on how to convince officials and politicians to change their behaviour and include the maps in their decision-making. Social marketing is a tool commonly used to effect behaviour change in many sectors but its application in conservation is limited. In the formative research phase of a social marketing study we interviewed locally elected politicians in four coastal municipalities in South Africa. We found that conservation and environmental issues play virtually no role in their work; however, they do attribute value to the natural environment. Land-use planning procedures are considered important but dysfunctional and the role of conservation is perceived negatively in their municipalities. Their information-seeking behaviour is clearly localized. We present a marketing analysis of these results and argue for improving the attractiveness of the product: the maps should be more option- than veto-based and should identify locally relevant ecosystem services. Locally significant information should be provided at a time and location convenient for politicians. We conclude that engagement with councillors should be proactive, refer to land-use planning and services from ‘nature’ rather than ‘biodiversity’ and use terminology and information that is locally oriented and meaningful from the politician's perspective. The analysis highlights the usefulness of the marketing approach for conservation.
In terms of the persistence of biodiversity, the siting of conservation areas has traditionally been ad hoc. In the Cape Floristic Region, a hot-spot of plant biodiversity and endemism, past conservation interventions have led to the mountains being over-represented in the reserve network, while the lowlands have remained very poorly conserved. Ongoing threats to the lowlands such as the rampant spread of invasive alien plants, and land transformation for agriculture and resort development, continue to undermine biodiversity in these regions. A new conservation intervention, the Agulhas National Park, is in the process of being implemented on the coastal lowlands at Africa's southernmost tip. A flexible, reserve-selection design tool is being used to guide this process. The practical challenges in implementing a new protected area in a fragmented landscape, which has a high biodiversity and vulnerability, are examined. The role of different institutions, in partic-in particular state-private partnerships, and current investigations into conservation agencies' policies, legislation and funding mechanisms are dealt with. It is imperative that future conservation planning considers the threats to biodiversity first and foremost. Institutions such as South African National Parks and the Cape Nature Conservation Board must act strategically to avoid changes in land use that will compromise the biodiversity goals of retention and persistence. Conservation efforts will only succeed if institutional and socio-economic considerations are integrated with conservation plans aimed at ensuring the long-term persistence of biodiversity.
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