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Minister Edna Molewa gazettes the Biodiversity Management Plan for 11 critically Endangered and 4 Endangered Cycad Species

12 June 2015


The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Minister Edna Molewa, on Friday, 5 June 2015, published the Biodiversity Management Plan for 11 critically endangered and four endangered Encephalartus (Cycad) species in Government Gazette No. 38844 (Notice 503 of 2015) for public comment.

The gazetting of the draft Biodiversity Management Plan is in line with the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 and the NEM:BA Norms and Standards for Biodiversity Management Plans for Species (BMP-S).

The Encephalartus species of cycads are collectively the most threatened plant group in South Africa.  Of the 37 Encephalartus species that occur in South Africa, 12 are regarded as Critically Endangered, while an additional three are already considered Extinct in the Wild.

There are less than 100 plants left in the wild for seven of the Critically Endangered species, four species of which are on the brink of extinction. A further four Encephalartus species are regarded as Endangered.

The predominant threat facing cycads is the ongoing illegal collection of wild cycads for horticultural and medicinal purposes Encephalartos species are used for traditional medicine across South Africawith some species also traded in traditional medicine markets. In recent years bark harvesting for the medicinal trade has increased and this has resulted in declines in wild populations with complete loss of some populations.

The aim of the Biodiversity Management Plan for Species (BMP-S), of which the development was led by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), is to ensure the long-term survival in nature of the 15 Encephalartus species.   In this BMP,  long-term survival is interpreted as halting the decline of the in situ populations, and thereafter attaining a population growth that will results in the down-listing of the species in terms of its conservation status in the IUCN Red List.

Through the establishment of a steering committee and a series of consultations with stakeholders ranging from state institutions to collectors, industry and landowners, overarching principles and operational guidelines were identified to govern the successful implementation of this Biodiversity Management Plans.

Management aims listed in the Plan, which are applicable to all 15 species, include an increase in protection of wild cycads, essential research and the effective management of confiscated cycads and fixed collections.   Specific objectives, actions and recovery targets have been established for the 15 species, ranging from surveys to determine the current status of the population, to identification of secure sites for the reintroduction and the proclamation of areas as Specially Protected Areas to which seedlings can be securely introduced.

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

Hand delivered to:         

Environment House (reception)

Attention: Ms Humbulani Mafumo

473 Steve Biko Street
Arcadia, Pretoria

By fax to:  0865411102; or (012) 359 3636;

By Email to:

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

>> National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (10/2004): Draft Biodiversity Management Plan for 11 critically endangered and 4 endangered encephalartos species (G 38844 – GN 503)

Comments receivedafter the closing date may not be considered.

For media inquiries contact
Albi Modise
Cell: 083 490 2871