Site Support Groups

Site Support Groups

A Site Support Group (SSG) is an organised group of like-minded local people living in or around an important biodiversity site, interacting with and sustainably using its resources (at different levels), in pursuit of a common interest. All SSG operations are guided by a clear vision, mission, objectives and activities, and the SSG embraces the principles of sustainable use to manage natural resources. The form and set-up of SSGs vary: they may be self-help groups, Community-based Organisations (CBOs), bird-watching or guiding groups, or could even be sports clubs, but they must always have an environmental agenda. There are over 150 SSGs associated with Important Bird Areas throughout Africa.

BirdLife Botswana has several of this since it started engaging with local communities to form SSGs with funding from SwedBio project which aimed to “sustain biodiversity to sustain livelihoods in rural Botswana”.

To find out more about existing Site Support Groups, click on the link below:

The most important ornithological sites in Botswana are undoubtedly included in the list of IBAs, but large populations of Kalahari-Highveld species clearly lie outside them, as too do large numbers of dispersed species such as raptors. (information from Tyler, S.J. and Bishop, B.R. (1998). Botswana. In: The Important Bird Areas of Southern Africa. Barnes, K.N. (ed.) BirdLife South Africa, Johannesburg. ISBN: 0-620-23423-7).

The SSG approach is applied at national and regional levels as the main mechanism to create a network of local constituencies working to protect the most threatened biodiversity sites in Africa, while benefiting from the wise use of the natural resources there-in.

SSGs themselves can be defined as independent and organised groups of voluntary individuals that work to promote conservation and sustainable development at IBAs and other biodiversity sites, in partnership with BirdLife Partners and other relevant stakeholders. They are composed of volunteers with similar interests although they may come from different backgrounds, ages, occupation and gender and economic status.

SSGs as defined by the BirdLife partnership have not yet been formed in Botswana, owing to the fact that BirdLife Botswana itself only opened office in March 2004. However, we have to date established informal relationships with several Community Based Organisations (CBOs) who have an interest in biodiversity conservation, some of which we have started collaborating with on projects.