Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES): Feasibility and Implementation in the upper uThukela Area

Steven McKean¹ , Myles Mander²

¹Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, P O Box 13053, Cascades, 3202, Pietermaritzburg.
²Eco-Futures, 48 Old Main Road, Kloof, Durban

Water is predicted to be the single biggest future development constraint in South Africa. A new water supply augmentation option has been identified which can promote local economic development in rural areas and create hundreds of jobs. Paying people to manage the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg catchments for enhanced water supply has been shown to be financially feasible. Recent research in upper uThukela area of the uKhahlamba- Drakensberg shows that robust vegetation cover in the upper catchments – through maintaining the recommended cattle carrying capacity, by burning the mountain grasslands in the spring every second year  and rehabilitating severely degraded areas – can enhance water resources by reducing summer stormflows, increasing winter baseflows by an additional 13 million m3, reducing annual sediment yields by 1.3 million m3, and sequestering 134,000 tonnes of carbon per year. Importantly catchment management costs are at the most 20% of the direct value of tradable benefits, making catchment management a financially attractive option.  Improved management and rehabilitation was predicted to also result in 1,800 restoration jobs in the first 7 years, with some 500 permanent jobs.
PES is being implemented worldwide and has been shown to have new and exciting applications in southern Africa. The first implementation of PES in South Africa began in April 2010, in the upper uThukela area of the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg mountains. Progress and challenges are discussed in the presentation.

Presentation Topic

Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES): Feasibility and Implementation in the upper uThukela Area


Contact Mr McKean:

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, P O Box 13053,Cascades, 3202, Pietermaritzburg.


Email Mr McKean