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History, rationale, and lessons learned: Thresholds of potential concern in Kruger National Park river adaptive management

Craig A. McLoughlin, Andrew Deacon, Hendrik Sithole, Thomas Gyedu-Ababio

Koedoe; Vol 53, No 2 (2011), 27 pages. doi: 10.4102/koedoe.v53i2.996

Submitted: 15 April 2010
Published:  11 May 2011


The Kruger National Park’s (KNP) adopted system of management, called Strategic Adaptive Management (SAM), originated during the Kruger National Park Rivers Research Programme (KNPRRP) of the 1990s. An important concept in SAM is the thresholds of potential concern (TPCs), representing end-points in a continuum of change. TPCs within the KNP SAM system guide management if or when reached, ‘red-flagging’ possible negative biodiversity impacts and catalysing consideration of management options. TPC-related monitoring generates the strategic information for ongoing evaluation, learning and adaptation within SAM. Post- KNPRRP, although river flow and water quality TPCs have been implemented partly, those designed to detect undesirable changes in biodiversity have not been implemented, until recently. This paper describes the history, rationale, application and ongoing developments associated with the KNP river TPCs over the last decade, providing some key lessons for organisations utilising SAM. The paper concludes with an overview of new thinking and future directions envisaged for the KNP river TPCs, as part of the KNP SAM system.

Conservation implications: This paper documents important concepts of strategic adaptive management associated with the KNP river systems. Understanding, related to the rationale and justification for use and development or refinement of the thresholds of potential concern, lays an important foundation for ongoing work in managing these rivers adaptively.

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Author affiliations

Craig A. McLoughlin, South African National Parks, Conservation Services, Kruger National Park, South Africa
Andrew Deacon, South African National Parks, Conservation Services, Kruger National Park, South Africa
Hendrik Sithole, South African National Parks, Conservation Services, Kruger National Park, South Africa
Thomas Gyedu-Ababio, South African National Parks, Conservation Management, Kruger National Park, South Africa


adaptive management; biodiversity; catchment management agency; Ecological Reserve; feedbacks; monitoring; South African National Parks; South African Water Act; sustainability


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1. Stakeholder Participation in Freshwater Monitoring and Evaluation Programs: Applying Thresholds of Potential Concern within Environmental Flows
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doi: 10.1007/s00267-017-0940-2

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