——A conservation plan for a global biodiversity hotspot—the Cape Floristic Region, South Africa
We produced a conservation plan that achieved conservation targets for biodiversity pattern and process in the species- and endemic-rich Cape Floristic Region of South Africa. Features given quantitative conservation targets were land classes, localities of Proteaceae and selected vertebrate (freshwater fish, amphibians and reptiles) species, population sizes for medium- and large-sized mammals, and six types of spatial surrogates for ecological and evolutionary processes. The plan was developed in several stages using C-Plan, a decision support system linked to a geographic information system. Accepting the existing reserve system as part of the plan, we first selected spatially fixed surrogates for biodiversity processes; then we included those planning units that were essential for achieving targets for land classes, Proteaceae and vertebrate species; next we included areas required to accommodate population and design targets for large and medium-sized mammals; we then selected planning units required to conserve entire upland–lowland and macroclimatic gradients; and finally we resolved the options for achieving remaining targets while also consolidating the design of conservation areas. The result was a system of conservation areas, requiring, in addition to the existing reserve system, 52% of the remaining extant habitat in the planning domain, as well as restorable habitat, that will promote the persistence and continued diversification of much of the region’s biota in the face of ongoing habitat loss and climate change. After describing the planning process, we discuss implementation priorities in relation to conservation value and vulnerability to habitat loss, as well as socio-economic, political and institutional constraints and opportunities.