South Africa has been named as one of the most mega-biodiverse nations in the world.

The country joins Indonesia and Brazil in the top three richest countries in terms of plant and animal diversity.

Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy, says South Africa’s conservation estate is growing on land and at sea.

This follows the declaration of 20 new Marine Protected Areas, designed to protect 90% of the nation’s marine habitat species.

Creecy also launched the third National Biodiversity Assessment last week, which details the state of South Africa’s biodiversity.

The report took five years to complete and involved almost 500 local scientists.

“Armed with the scientific evidence from this report, we will now be able to take further action to protect and monitor the effectiveness of interventions in our most important eco-infrastructure,” says Creecy.

Paige Gehren, director of the Isibindi Foundation, says the report highlights the strides that have been made in protecting biodiversity in South Africa.

“With the unfolding of global responsible and purposeful tourism, comes the realisation that protecting biodiversity includes uplifting neighbouring communities and harvesting these resources. Our tourists can play a pivotal role in responsible tourism. For example, we have introduced an Isibindi Foundation levy per bed per night. These funds will be used in this vital partnership of communities and conservation, building human fences protecting our precious biodiversity,” says Gehren.