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Minister Molewa gazettes the draft Biodiversity Management Plan for the Pickersgill’s reed frog

22 June 2016
 

Male Pickersgill’s reed frog

The Minister of Environmental Affairs on Friday, 10 June 2016, published the Draft Biodiversity Management Plan for the Pickersgill Reed Frog (Hyperolius pickersgilli) in Government Gazette No. 40058 (Notice 337 of 2016) for public comment.

The gazetting of the Draft Biodiversity Management Plan is in line with the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 (Act No. 10 of 2004).

Pickersgill Reed Frog (Hyperolius pickersgilli) is a small frog known only from limited and highly fragmented coastal wetland habitat in KwaZulu-Natal.

It is listed on the IUCN Red Data List and by the South Africa’s Threatened or Protected Species (TOPS) Regulations of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (NEMBA) as Endangered.   The species is KwaZulu-Natal’s only amphibian species with this status.

Female Pickersgill’s reed frogThis recognises that species facing an extremely high risk of extinction are therefore subject to the restrictions imposed by national legislation regarding their removal from the wild, transport, trade and use.

Section 9 of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (NEMBA) provides for the issuing of national norms and standards for the management and conservation of South Africa’s biodiversity and its components. To this effect, the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) developed the Norms and Standards for the Development of BMP for Species (BMP-S), which were gazetted in March 2009 to provide a national approach and minimum standards for the development of a BMP-S.  This is the fourth version of the draft BMP-S since the stakeholder workshop on the development of a management plan for the species was held in 2013.

The Pickersgill Reed Frog is endemic to a narrow and extremely fragmented range within about 16 km of the KwaZulu-Natal coastline, where as of February 2015, it is known from 22 localities. Twenty of these sites, or 90%, are not officially protected and are experiencing ongoing decline in habitat quality and some even face the threat of complete elimination as a result of industrial development.

Known and potential threats include:

  • Habitat loss as a result of wetland drainage or destruction for agricultural, urban and industrial development.
  • Severe habitat fragmentation and small, isolated sub-populations.
  • Alien vegetation and afforestation resulting in drying out of breeding sites.
  • Pollution from pesticides and other contaminants.

Without concerted proactive conservation intervention in the near future, it is highly likely that species will become extinct.

The aim of the BMP-S for Pickersgill Reed Frog is to improve the conservation status of Hyperolius pickersgilli and secure its future survival in the wild.

This will be achieved through improving the conservation status of  H. pickersgilli, ultimately to Least Concern, and improve its protection as part of meeting international biodiversity objectives through applied conservation action.

The Plan recommends:

  1. Create and maintain an enabling environment for relevant stakeholders, including private land-owners, to carry out appropriate management actions required for the survival of subpopulations and maintain or improve necessary ecological processes.
  2. Prioritise the protection and appropriate management of key habitats for H. pickersgilli in relation to the scale and imminence of potential impact from urban or industrial development, with the additional objectives of reducing habitat fragmentation, identifying potential sites for offsets; and researching relocation and habitat rehabilitation or restoration requirements of the species, as well as developing guidelines for the implementation of these processes.
  3. Implement habitat protection and management activities through landowner agreements, including but not limited to biodiversity stewardship, to curb habitat degradation caused by agricultural activities and water usage, and to secure sites to mitigate against the potential impacts of climate change.
  4. Identify and conduct research and develop educational and awareness campaigns

Amphibians play integral roles in most ecosystems and are presently the most threatened Class of vertebrates globally, with approximately one third of all known species Red Listed by the IUCN. This situation is reflected in South Africa, with 30% of the country’s frog species listed under a threatened category.

Overall, 43% of South African frog species are endemic to the country. Of these, 35% are in a threatened category, and all but one of the threatened species are endemics.

The highest species richness for frogs occurs in KwaZulu-Natal, an area that has been recognised as being important for both frog endemism and having high levels of human activity, particularly in the coastal regions.

Members of the public are invited to submit to the Minister, within 30 days of the publication of the notice in a Gazette, written representations on, or objections to the draft Biodiversity Management Plan to the following addresses:

By post to:

The Director-General: Department of Environmental Affairs
Attention: Ms Humbulani Mafumo
Private Bag X447
Pretoria
0001

Hand delivered to:

Environment House (reception)
473 Steve Biko Street
Arcadia
Pretoria

By fax to:  086 541 1102; or (012) 359 3636

By Email to: hmafumo@environment.gov.za

Comments received after the closing date may not be considered.

An electronic copy of the BMP can be downloaded from the link:

» Biodiversity management plan for the Pickersgill’s reed frog

For media inquiries contact:

Roopa Singh
+ 27 82 225 3076