Incorporating anthropogenic threats into evaluations of regional biodiversity and prioritisation of conservation areas in the Limpopo Province, South Africa
Recent attempts to streamline the identification of areas requiring immediate conservation attention have resulted in the development of prioritisation procedures that identify areas of biodiversity importance facing large threats in the near future. This study incorporated biodiversity data on bird and vegetation distribution with an assessment of land use suitability for cultivation and afforestation for the Limpopo Province of South Africa. The low altitude savanna regions in the northeast contain high species diversity, but are unsuitable to alternative forms of land use and are well conserved (by e.g., the Kruger National Park). The central and eastern mountain ranges, sites of high biodiversity, are suitable to dryland cultivation and afforestation and are thus potential conservation priorities. Areas with high biodiversity values, e.g., irreplaceable areas that contain biodiversity features essential for meeting conservation targets, were then investigated for their potential land-use threats in order to prioritise those needing immediate conservation actions. We suggest how losses of biodiversity could be minimised by reaching such decisions more quickly. © 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.