Abstract:

The Cathedral Peak Research Catchments: A Platform for Global Change Research and Monitoring through Partnerships

Alistair Clulow1, Colin Everson1, Terry Everson1 ,Mark J.C. Horan1, Graham P.W. Jewitt1, Michele L. Warburton1, Susan Janse van Rensberg2, Timothy O’Connor2, Nicky Allsopp2, Tony Swemmer2, Victoria Goodall2, Ian Rushworth3.

1 School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Science, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
2 South African Environmental Observation Network, Pretoria, South Africa
3Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Ecological Advice, Midmar, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

Water scarcity exists where demand exceeds supply. This is currently an imminent constraint to economic development in South Africa. In this context, conservation goals may be negatively affected, as ecological reserves are compromised. Information that enables resilient and adaptive water management policies is therefore essential. However, there is significant uncertainty regarding the impact of Global Change on the hydrological response and the consequential implications for water delivery in South Africa.  The South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON), mandated with implementing long term monitoring to detect and understand Global Change impacts, has therefore identified hydrological monitoring as a focal theme. Currently, the Drakensberg mountain catchments are South Africa’s most important source of water.  The Cathedral Peak Research Catchments of the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site, managed by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, were initiated by the Department of Forestry in 1939.These catchments have provided a legacy of over forty years of stream flow and weather data from historical catchment experiment programs. Along with Jonkershoek in the Cape, these catchments provide the long term data required to detect potential Global Change impacts in contrasting summer and winter rainfall catchments. Vegetation responses to Global Change (C3-C4 response, gradient shifts, herbaceous encroachment into grassland, etc.) and their impact on the hydrological cycle are unresolved. The vision and planned activities of the Cathedral Peak Research Catchments Global Change Monitoring and Research Program, aimed at interlinking vegetation-hydrological responses will be outlined, highlighting the need and value of collaboration, notably with EKZNW and UKZN, in achieving the desired outcomes. The outcomes will be relevant to forward planning for sustainable water delivery in an uncertain future. In addition, this collaborative program will establish a living laboratory in which students are able to experience the hydrological continuum and understand the threats of climate change on South Africa’s water resources.

Presentation Topic

The Cathedral Peak Research Catchments: A Platform for Global Change Research and Monitoring through Partnerships

 

Contact Ms Janse van Rensberg:

South African Environmental Observation Network, Pretoria, South Africa

 

Email Ms Janse van Rensburg