Abstract:

The value of the ecosystem services of the Zaalklap wetland in the Mpumalanga Highveld

Kyle R Harris¹ , Mathieu Rouget

¹University of Pretoria , Department of Plant Sciences, Private Bag X20, Hatfield, 0028

Globally, there is an increasing realisation of the importance of ecosystem services for human wellbeing and an acknowledged disconnect between environmental conservation and economic development. A prime example of the disconnect referred to above is the impact of coal mining in the upper Olifants River Catchment. Coal mining, while extremely important to South Africa’s energy needs and economy, has resulted in the partial or complete destruction of several wetlands within the Catchment. The destruction of wetlands has led to a myriad of water related issues, which have direct impacts on human wellbeing. These issues range from decreased water quality, fluctuating water flows, increased incidences of flooding and loss of grazing and arable land amongst others. Collectively, these impacts can be attributed to a change in the delivery and production of ecosystem services. Wetlands are highly productive ecosystems and due to their ecological complexity provide a variety of goods and services that are of value to society. Wetlands in Southern Africa have been shown to contribute to the livelihoods of rural communities by providing valuable grazing land, cultivation area, building materials and medicinal goods. In addition to these services, wetlands provide a host of other services, which are often indirectly used by society, and are therefore undervalued in economic markets. These services include the maintenance of hydrological regimes, flood attenuation and water purification amongst others. In this paper we give an analysis of the value of the ecosystem services delivered by the Zaalklap wetland, which is located in the Mpumalanga Highveld.  The authors focus on the value of the regulating services and in particular the value of the water purification service provided by the wetland.

Presentation Topic

The value of the ecosystem services of the Zaalklap wetland in the Mpumalanga Highveld

 

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University of Pretoria , Department of Plant Sciences, Private Bag X20, Hatfield, 0028

 

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