Biodiversity and the South African wine sector: a successful blend?

Bridgman, Corrie (2009-03)

Thesis (MA (Geography and Environmental Studies))--University of Stellenbosch, 2009.


The acceleration of biodiversity loss is understood to threaten the ecosystems upon which life on earth depends. Existing conservation approaches have proved insufficient to stem global biodiversity losses. Mounting evidence indicates that responsible biodiversity conservation requires an integration of ecology with economics. Accordingly, contemporary conservation interventions incorporate a concept that ecosystems and biodiversity can be used and also conserved. In South Africa, such interventions can be appropriately applied in the Cape Floristic Region (CFR), an area containing severely endangered biodiversity where land use and conservation goals rarely mesh. More than 80% of land in the CFR is privately owned, with large tracts transformed for viticulture. Conservation challenges thus include the reconciliation of wine production needs with biodiversity protection necessities. This thesis comprises a case study of the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative, an organisation that simultaneously promotes biodiversity conservation in the South African wine sector, by a process of mainstreaming within an viticultural context. The overall study aim was to improve understanding of the BWI as a mainstreaming initiative. Specifically, the area of inquiry is an investigation into how effectively the BWI has protected biodiversity in the CFR between 2005 and 2008. Individual aims were to investigate reductions in threat to biodiversity in the CFR; to assess farmer adoption levels of BWI strategy; and to formulate a sustainability appraisal of the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative. A strategic triangulation of methods was employed. Stakeholder interviews were conducted to probe adoption levels and opinions of BWI strategy. Case studies of two BWI champion estates provided data on best practice. Towards a critical appraisal of sustainability, an assessment was made of the BWI as a functioning mainstreaming model, which included case studies of two model farms.

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