Dr. Luthando Dziba
Managing Executive, Conservation Services, South African National Parks
Title: We need to do more to halt biodiversity loss!
Dr Luthando Dziba is the Managing Executive responsible for Conservation Services Division at South African National Parks (SANParks). The division oversees Scientific Services, Veterinary Services, Conservation Planning and Cultural Heritage. Luthando serves as the Co-chair of the Multidisciplinary Expert Panel of the Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and the co-chair of its Africa Ecosystem Assessment. Before joining SANParks, Luthando managed the Ecosystem Services Competency Area (including Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, Coastal Systems and Earth Observation) at the CSIR. Luthando’s research interests include plant-herbivore ecology, land use change, impacts of woody plant encroachment and invasive alien plants on biodiversity and ecosystem services. He has been a science advisor to South African government delegations to IPBES and the Convention on Biological Diversity since 2012. He serves on the Wits University’s Global Change Institute Advisory Board, the National Parks Trust and the Endangered Wildlife Trust.
We need to do more to halt biodiversity loss!
The value of data and robust statistical methods for science and conservation management in protected areas
The unprecedented decline in biodiversity has been extensively documented in the last few years culminating in a comprehensive Global Assessment Report published by the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) in 2019. The decline in biodiversity has significant negative impacts on nature’s contributions to people, which are irreplaceable. This IPBES report showed that more than 2 billion people rely on wood fuel to meet their primary energy needs and some 70 per cent of drugs used for cancer are natural or synthetic products inspired by nature, to name a few. Yet, humans are largely responsible for the unprecedented loss of nature including through a) changes in land and sea use; b) direct exploitation of organisms; c) climate change; d) pollution and e) invasive alien species.
The unprecedented decline in nature, at rates unseen before in human history taking place throughout the world and has dire consequences for the wellbeing of humanity. Although it is not too late to act, timely decision-making and appropriate integrated interventions are critical to success.
I will reflect on biodiversity loss using some examples of the decline of iconic species in Southern Africa and initiatives to help address the decline. These examples show that once a species starts to decline, it takes a lot of effort and resources to halt the decline. I will also briefly reflect on data collection and statistical analysis of conservation data and the value of such data and information to managers and policy makers.