Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 23, Issue 9, pp 2345–2369 | Cite as

Supporting conservation with biodiversity research in sub-Saharan Africa’s human-modified landscapes

Review Paper


Protected areas (PAs) cover 12 % of terrestrial sub-Saharan Africa. However, given the inherent inadequacies of these PAs to cater for all species in conjunction with the effects of climate change and human pressures on PAs, the future of biodiversity depends heavily on the 88 % of land that is unprotected. The study of biodiversity patterns and the processes that maintain them in human-modified landscapes can provide a valuable evidence base to support science-based policy-making that seeks to make land outside of PAs as amenable as possible for biodiversity persistence. We discuss the literature on biodiversity in sub-Saharan Africa’s human-modified landscapes as it relates to four broad ecosystem categorizations (i.e. rangelands, tropical forest, the Cape Floristic Region, and the urban and rural built environment) within which we expect similar patterns of biodiversity persistence in relation to specific human land uses and land management actions. Available research demonstrates the potential contribution of biodiversity conservation in human-modified landscapes within all four ecosystem types and goes some way towards providing general conclusions that could support policy-making. Nonetheless, conservation success in human-modified landscapes is hampered by constraints requiring further scientific investment, e.g. deficiencies in the available research, uncertainties regarding implementation strategies, and difficulties of coexisting with biodiversity. However, information currently available can and should support efforts at individual, community, provincial, national, and international levels to support biodiversity conservation in human-modified landscapes.


Cape Floristic Region Countryside biogeography Off-reserve conservation Rangelands Reconciliation ecology Tropical forest 



M. J. T. was supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and R. J. v. A. through various grants to the Chair in Conservation Ecology at CERU.

Supplementary material

10531_2014_716_MOESM1_ESM.doc (300 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 300 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Conservation Ecology Research Unit, Department of Zoology & EntomologyUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa

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