Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Barbara Creecy, has published for implementation the Biodiversity Management Plans (BMP-S) for Aloe Ferox and the Honeybush Species Cyclopia subtenata and Cyclopia intermedia.
The BMP-S were published in Government Gazette 46597 (Notice No. 2192) on 24 June 2022 in terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (NEMBA).
The Biodiversity Management Plan (BMP) aims to provide for the long-term survival of a species in the wild and to provide a platform for an implementing organisation or responsible entity as appointed by the Minister to monitor and report on the progress regarding the implementation of the BMP.
“The Minister assigned the responsibility for implementation of the BMP-S for Aloe Ferox to the Eastern Cape department of economic development, environmental affairs and tourism.
“Temporary responsibility for the implementation of the BMP-S for the two Honeybush species has been jointly assigned to the Western Cape department of environmental affairs and development planning and the Eastern Cape department of economic development, environmental affairs and tourism,” the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment said on Friday.
The Honeybush Community of Practice and the Department will support the provinces.
This arrangement will end once the process to identify a suitable person, organization or organ of state willing to take responsibility for the implementation of the species is identified.
Aloe ferox have a restricted distribution in South Africa extending from the Western Cape Province, intermittently throughout the Eastern Cape, and up into south-eastern Free State. The species also occurs in southern Lesotho.
“The rosettes of succulent leaves form the basis of a thriving Aloe ferox industry in South Africa where leaf material from wild plants are collected to produce bitters and gels for commercial use in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries.
“The A. ferox industry provides significant socio-economic benefits to many South Africans, from local communities who derive an income from harvesting of the plants, to small businesses who employ people to manufacture A. ferox products for both the local and international markets,” the Department said.
The species is included in Appendix II of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) to ensure that international trade in the plants does not threaten their survival in the wild.
The aim of the BMP-S is to ensure the long-term survival of A. ferox in its natural habitat, whilst ensuring that the livelihoods of stakeholders are respected.
“To achieve this the BMP-s aims to ensure that the wild harvesting of A. ferox is carried out in an adaptive, practical, participatory, and transparent manner that maintains the long-term survival of the species in the wild.
“It also aims to ensure that the wild collection does not adversely affect the structure and functioning of the surrounding environment and ensures the establishment and implementation of monitoring systems that will provide the scientific evidence required to inform responsive management practices,” the Department said.
By implementing this BMP, a major benefit, amongst others, will be to obtain the support of owners, managers, and occupiers of land on which the plant occurs for the implementation of conservation actions.
This should ensure the species does not go extinct and instead becomes better managed over time, maintaining the status of Least Concern.
“Honeybush species are endemic to the Western and Eastern Cape provinces with the distribution extending from the Cedarberg north of Citrusdal, southwards to the Cape Peninsula and eastwards to Port Elizabeth.
“Cyclopia species have been used commercially since the 19th century for the production of honeybush tea, a caffeine-free beverage considered by many to provide a range of health benefits,” the Department said.
Cyclopia subternata and Cyclopia intermedia are amongst the Honeybush species that are currently declining in the wild due to a number of challenges, which include the ongoing illegal harvesting within communal lands and nature reserves, as well as on private farms where land owners are absent.
The species is also declining due to the removal of excessively large quantities of plant material too frequently; an expansion of human settlement and agricultural lands into areas where the species occurs; and invasive alien encroachment by species such as black wattle (Acacia mearnsii) and pine (Pinus sp.) that shade out indigenous plants such as honeybush.
“Although the two species are commonly used in the commercial tea industry, they are both classified as Least Concern in accordance with the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List criteria. However, a proper management plan and regulation is needed to ensure that sustainable harvesting and best practice takes place within this sector,” the Department said.
The aim of this BMP is to ensure the long-term survival of C. subternata and C. intermedia populations in the wild, whilst safeguarding and respecting the livelihoods of stakeholders.
Specific activities need to be undertaken to enable the sustainable utilisation of the species whilst ensuring that systems are in place to monitor ongoing impacts of commercial extraction.
This includes ensuring that the wild collection of these plants is done in an ecologically sound and sustainable manner that maintains long-term survival of the species in the wild.
The aim is also to:
Ensure that wild collection of C. subternata and C. intermedia does not adversely affect the environment, including ecosystem function.
Ensure that collection and management activities are carried out under legitimate tenure arrangements and comply with relevant laws, regulations and agreements.
Ensure that through fair and equitable sharing of benefits derived from the biotrade and bioprospecting of C. subternata and C. intermedia, the conservation and sustainable use of honeybush species is promoted.
Ensure wild collection of C. subternata and C. intermedia is based upon adaptive, practical, participatory and transparent management practices.
inform management practices that can rationally be applied to other commercial Cyclopia species, whether reseeders or resprouters and to
Ensure the protection/management of genetic C. subternata and C. intermedia resources.
To access the Biodiversity Management Plans for Aloe Ferox and the Honeybush species C. subternata and C. intermedia, click on:
(With Inputs from South African Government Press Release)