Groups of specialists and stakeholders of about eight to 12 people, depending on the sites, compiled a snapshot inventory of the various organisms and habitats they could identify within about four hours. “The aim was to have an idea of the biodiversity in the Kruger to Canyons biosphere and to compare the observed finding with what was expected. We would also like to compare system functioning between different land-use types in the same systems,” said Jenny Newenham, one of the coordinators of the bio-monitoring exercise.
“A secondary aim was to create awareness, amongst different stakeholder groups, of the different habitats and organisms in different land-use types and the general value of diversity.” This was not a pure science project. A number of factors need to be considered when looking at the results. A reasonably accurate inventory at the species level would not be possible due to the time of year, a shortage of invertebrate specialists and the duration of the sampling. Not all specialists at the sites are equally skilled or share the same area of speciality.
“The method has not been designed with sampling in future years in mind – if sampling is repeated for Biodiversity Days in future years, it will be done at a different time of year, which will allow for more accurate methods. Furthermore, lessons learned from this year’s experience will invariably result in changes to the method for next year.” In the end, groups, comprising at least two specialists and a number of local stakeholders, monitored 18 sites. The idea was to encompass a variety of habitats and landscapes in the biosphere’s three zones – core, buffer and transition – as well as all the land use types in the biosphere.