Following on previous discussion at Wetlands Forum meetings around payment for ecosystem services, this example from the Maloti Drakensberg is of interest.
Results of recent research in the Maloti Drakensberg 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 Maloti Drakensberg catchment for enhanced water supply has been shown to be financially feasible. Recent research in the Maloti Drakensberg shows that robust vegetation cover in the upper catchments – through maintaining the recommended cattle carrying capacity and by burning the mountain grasslands in the spring every second year – can enhance water resources by:
• Reducing summer stormflows,
• increasing winter baseflows by an additional 13 million m3 and 4 million m3 in the upper
Thukela and upper Umzimvubu catchments respectively,
• reducing annual sediment yields by 1.3 million m3 and 5 million m3 in the upper Thukela and
upper Umzimvubu rivers, and
• sequestering 134,000 tonnes and 334,000 tonnes of carbon per year in the upper Thukela and
upper Umzimvubu rivers.
In essence, good land use practice in high rainfall mountain areas is good for water security, carbon sequestration and other ecosystem services. The following services have high value, and can be traded:
• additional and more regular water supply for users - improving assurance of supply and adding value to both reticulated and raw water users,
• reduced sedimentation of water infrastructure and river ecosystems which reduces water storage and abstraction costs – thereby making cost savings,
• additional carbon sequestration which is tradable, and which also improves grassland productivity, and
• A range of other ecosystem services are also enhanced by this action such as reduced flooding, improved water quality, improved fishing, biodiversity conservation and improved grazing. These are economically beneficial to society but as yet cannot be traded in this location.
Importantly the management costs are at the most 20% of the direct value of tradable benefits, making this a financially attractive option. Improved management and rehabilitation will also result in 1,800 restoration jobs in the first 7 years, with some 500 permanent jobs.
Payment for ecosystem services is being implemented worldwide and has now been shown to have new and exciting applications here in South Africa. For more information go to http://www.futureworks.co.za/maloti_drakensberg_pes.htm to download the full report or contact Myles Mander from Futureworks at firstname.lastname@example.org or 031 764 6449