A protocol for wildlife conservation planning in an afforestable montane grassland region
The grassland biome is the biome most transformed by human activity in South Africa. At least thirteen percent of the biome is suitable for pine afforestation. There is a need for conservation evaluations before large-scale commercial afforestation to determine which areas are required to maintain biological diversity in the afforestable region and which areas can be planted. This paper gives a protocol for wildlife conservation based on focal taxa, and is presented by means of a flow diagram. The protocol is designed to be implemented by a single researcher in regions which are poorly-known biologically and when there are time and cost constraints. Land types or broad vegetation types can be used to account for the large-scale variability in the landscape. Sampling on different topographical units or in different habitats on each large-scale unit can account for the small-scale variability. Some criteria considered important in choosing focal taxa are given. The sampling methods should allow the rapid collection of data on animal distributions in the landscape. The animal assemblages or communities in the various landscape units can be obtained from the data and the idea of complementary used to determine which regions are important for the maintenance of animal diversity in the afforestable region.