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Africa
9 Aug 2016

Can Tax Save Birds?

South Africa's Grasslands IBA receiving tax benefits © C. Stevens
South Africa's Grasslands IBA receiving tax benefits © C. Stevens
By Candice Stevens

South Africa plays host to an incredible array of bird species and spectacular landscapes, many of which are under threat. Candice Stevens, BirdLife South Africa’s Biodiversity Stewardship Fiscal Benefits Project Manager, believes that we need to use every means at our disposal to secure the future of our natural wealth. Candice is a tax specialist testing how accessing environmental tax incentives on behalf of private landowners will increase the amount of land under formal conservation protection. Historically, environmental taxes have been underutilised, but as a result of successful lobbying attempts by Candice and other key collaborators, a new conservation tax break has recently been granted in South Africa. This achievement has given BirdLife South Africa’s Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) Programme an additional conservation tool in its efforts to protect South Africa’s 112 IBAs.

Candice and South Africa’s IBA Team are using key tax incentives in conjunction with the national Biodiversity Stewardship model, which engages landowners formally to conserve and better manage vital habitats for birds and other biodiversity. The new tax incentive provides an income tax deduction to landowners who make a conservation commitment and offer important species life time protection. It is hoped that environmental tax incentives may bolster these efforts with economic benefits, ensuring that formally protected areas receive an element of financial sustainability. BirdLife South Africa’s Biodiversity Stewardship Fiscal Benefits Project is the first of its kind and aims to introduce a new approach to securing habitat management and protection for IBAs.

Candice’s work through the Biodiversity Stewardship Fiscal Benefits Project is funded by the WWF Nedbank Green Trust and is aligned with key stakeholders and collaborators.