SABAP2 progress in the mini-projects in the Four Degree centred on Gauteng
The importance of Greater Gauteng to SABAP2 lies in the fact that this is the economic driver of South Africa. This is where the pace of change is greatest, this is where the rate of habitat transformation is going to be highest, and therefore where the losses of birds are predictably the widest and our concerns about the future of birds are deepest.
Therefore it is privilege to be able to report on the progress with the two key SABAP2 mini-projects in this region. A couple of years ago, Etienne Marais had the idea of putting a big rectangle around the area of particular interest, and the famous Four Degrees Green Project was launched. All 576 pentads in the four one degree grid cells were changed to GREEN on the coverage map; in other words every single pentad had four or more checklists. Last year, Koos Pauw had the idea of making the entire area DARK GREEN, ie having seven checklists. We put some constraints on him, and said we would be happy with 80% DARK GREEN. This 80% target was duly reached by the end of last year.
Koos and team asked that the DARK GREEN project stay on the SABAP2 website, because they really wanted to work towards the ultimate goal of 100% DARK GREEN. Currently 538 of the 576 pentads are DARK GREEN (93.4%), and only another 74 checklists are needed to reach 100%. Getting checklists for many of these is a challenge to ingenuity. Well done, Koos.
And at the start of the year, we set ourselves the objective of getting 80% of the four degrees to GREEN in 2012, and dubbed this the 4DG 2012–80% challenge. It now looks like we set our sights a bit too high. At the moment, 447 of the pentads have at least one list (77.6%) and 140 (24.3%, nearly a quarter) have met the target of four or more checklists. There is a table on the home page of the website that shows the exact progress continuously. If atlasers did fourth checklists for the 57 pentads currently with three checklists, and third and fourth lists for the 109 pentads that now have two checklists, we would have GREENed more than half the pentads in the famous Four Degrees. Maybe a big burst of effort during the last three months of the year will see us close to the 80% target. We should also focus on getting at least one checklist in the 129 pentads that do not as yet have any.
I would like to do this again next year, 2013, and in every successive year. If we can achieve really good coverage of this area (and the areas around the other cities of South Africa) on an annual basis, we can devise early warning systems to detect changes in bird species composition, and try to take management intervention before it is too late. SABAP2 is the most important bird conservation project of all.
The maps in this news item are the new maps which show how many checklists we have for each pentad. On the website, you go to "Coverage maps" and then click on the lines marked "new" in the left hand side menu. You will need to click on the map once (or twice) to download the full size version with the numbers in the pentads. These two maps show the Four Degree region, plus a border of one pentad all round, for the Four Degrees. The top map shows progress with the 4DG 2012–80% challenge, and the bottom map shows how close the DARK GREEN challenge is to meeting its goal.
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