MANAGING THREATENED ECOSYSTEMS IN URBAN ENVIRONMENTS: IMPLEMENTATION OF A SCIENCE-ACTION PARTNERSHIP
Mathieu Rouget, Debra Roberts, Jessica Cockburn, Errol Douwes, Colleen Downs, Shomen Mukherjee, Walter Musakwa, Onisimo Mutanga, Tarombera Mwabvu, Sershen Naidoo, Sean O’Donoghue, John Odindi, Alfred Odindo, Gerald Ortmann, Serban Proches, Syd Ramdhani, Jayanti Ray-Mukherjee, Corrie Schoeman, Rob Slotow, Albertus Smit, Edilegnaw Wale1, Sandi Willows-Munro

University of KwaZulu-Natal, School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, School of Life Sciences, eThekwini Municipality, Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department
Rapid urban expansion and climate change threaten diverse ecosystems and the ecosystem services they provide. Appropriate local land use planning and management should in theory alleviate some of the impacts of global environmental change and urbanisation on ecosystems and biodiversity. However, the state of knowledge of urban ecosystems and the human capacity to manage these is generally quite poor, especially within institutions having the mandate of regulating land use planning. Here we present a partnership between eThekwini Municipality (local government) and the University of KwaZulu-Natal (an academic institution) to bridge the science-action divide and to inform the implementation of sustainable land use planning and management in the face of global environmental change in Durban, South Africa. Using an integrated interdisciplinary approach, several key decision-making products are being developed to minimise the impacts of urbanisation on the threatened KwaZulu-Natal Sandstone Sourveld (KZN SS) ecosystem. These decision-making products will contribute to land use planning, communicating the value of ecosystems, monitoring land use and ecosystem changes including climate change, and management interventions (both practical and governance issues). We present research highlights on biodiversity assessments (e.g. invertebrate and plant inventories), ecosystem functioning (e.g. vertebrate use of open spaces) and land use change in the KZN SS ecosystem. We unpack the process of establishing a boundary organisation through building social capital and co-development of a research framework and present lessons learned so far. An evaluation of the partnership has shown that most respondents view their participation positively. Their understanding of the KZN SS ecosystem and of the goals of the programme has improved, however participants recognise that the programme has not yet addressed climate change questions sufficiently. Interestingly, respondents perceived the ‘softer’ social learning and networking outcomes as more successful than ‘harder’ science and policy outcomes, indicating that the programme is developing social capital – possibly faster than it is generating science and decision-making outcomes.

 

Presentation Topic
MANAGING THREATENED ECOSYSTEMS IN URBAN ENVIRONMENTS: IMPLEMENTATION OF A SCIENCE-ACTION PARTNERSHIP
Contact Mr Rouget
Email Mathieu Rouget