Bridging the research–implementation gap: Mainstreaming biodiversity into the South African mining sector
Keywords:Conservation plan, co-production, knowledge product, implementation, mainstreaming biodiversity, mining, spatial biodiversity information, sustainable development
Background: ‘Mainstreaming biodiversity’ aims to integrate biodiversity priorities directly into the policies and practices of production sectors, including the mining sector. In South Africa, the need emerged for a biodiversity guideline specifically relevant to the mining sector that would interpret a wide range of available spatial biodiversity information and frame it in a user-friendly format.
Objectives: The aim of this article was to document and review the development of the Mining and Biodiversity Guideline. This serves as a case study of a product developed to assist in bridging the gap between available biodiversity information and use of this information by a production sector.
Methods: We examined the development of the Mining and Biodiversity Guideline with reference to three factors known to be beneficial to creating policy-relevant science: a sound scientific foundation (credibility), relevance to decision-making (salience) and involvement of stakeholders (legitimacy).
Results: The Mining and Biodiversity Guideline was developed through collaboration between the mining and biodiversity sectors. It provides a tool that contributes to the sustainable development of South Africa’s mineral resources in a way that enables regulators, industry and practitioners to minimise the impact of mining on biodiversity and ecosystem services. It includes a single integrated map of biodiversity priority areas summarised into four sensitivity categories relevant for the mining industry, with detailed guidance on how these should inform the application of the mitigation hierarchy.
Conclusion: The Mining and Biodiversity Guideline has received political endorsement from the relevant regulatory government departments. A focussed training programme has promoted awareness and understanding of the Guideline. Preliminary reports indicate that the Guideline has been effective in influencing decision-making.