Methodology to measure threats to biodiversity

June 25, 2019
Yet another important publication co-authored by our Associate Professor Brandon P. Anthony, former student Luna Milatovic (MESP 16/17) and MESPOM Associated Partner, Anthony Swemmer (South African Environmental Observation Network/SAEON) is now out in Koedoe: African Protected Area Conservation and Science!

The research utilizes a methodology Brandon P. Anthony developed to measure threats to biodiversity (modified Threat Reduction Assessments), and couples this with a spatial analysis of threats over time, across different protected areas.

Protected areas (PAs) are considered the cornerstone of biodiversity conservation and their establishment is often used to demonstrate the success of conservation policies. However, despite the increase in number and extent of PAs, global trends of biodiversity loss remain largely unchanged. It has become apparent that simply establishing a PA is not enough and effective management is equally important for achieving conservation success. The importance of management monitoring and evaluation systems has been recognised by numerous institutions, triggering the development of various conservation performance assessment frameworks and tools, each varying in their accuracy, scale and application.
Modified Threat Reduction Assessment (MTRA) was selected to evaluate the management effectiveness of the Letaba Ranch Nature Reserve (LRNR), which serves as a buffer area of Kruger National Park (KNP), South Africa, and two KNP sections bordering it (Mahlangeni and Phalaborwa). The aim of this research was to determine the nature of threats to biodiversity and their changes between 2013 and 2017 in all three sites. The research revealed 13 threats and determined negative MTRA indices of -33.6% in LRNR and -14.7% in the Phalaborwa section, but a 13.2% reduction in threats in the Mahlangeni section.
Combined with the results of geospatial visualisation of changes in threats, we suggest that LRNR is not sufficiently meeting the objective of supporting the ecological integrity of KNP, but further exposes it to threats, and that MTRAs can be useful for measuring and comparing threats across PA boundaries.