Enkangala grasslands / Drakensberg, South Africa

Case study leader: Institute of Natural Resources (INR)

Ecoregions covered: Drakensberg montane grasslands, woodlands and forests, Highveld grasslands

Site description: This case study is located along the northern areas of the Drakensberg range of mountains which form the border between Lesotho and South Africa. The region is extremely important for its watershed-services as it drains predominantly into the Vaal River which supplies water to Johannesburg. It is also important from a biodiversity perspective and comprises largely high altitude moist temperate grasslands.

Pressures: Significant pressure is placed on the ecosystem by grazing livestock, alien plants and other poor land management practices. In areas of communal ownership, no overall management policy is in place and overstocking, frequent burning and lack of soil protection measures have meant that vegetation cover is irregular and that sheet, rill and gulley erosion is commonplace. In areas where commercial agriculture predominates, grasslands are managed to provide optimal grazing for cattle. Annual controlled burning of the grassland is common practice largely to encourage new growth and to lower the risk of runaway fires. Both management scenarios result in a degrading of the grassland ecosystem, and especially reduced vegetation basal cover, which is thought to reduce the level of watershed and carbon sequestration services delivered by the ecosystem. Less water is produced by the catchment more erratically, siltation levels are higher and less carbon is retained in the soil.

Stakeholders: The most important stakeholders in this local area are the landowners and communities which draw their livelihoods from the resources in the area. Regionally, provincial nature conservation bodies and water services bodies such as Rand Water have important interests at stake On a national and international scale the Department of Water Affairs and Environment (DWAE) as well as international conservation bodies such as WWF are considered important stakeholders.

Case study focus: With the goal of protecting this important ecosystem, the case study aims to implement PES schemes in two different areas. The first area is dominated by commercial agriculture on private land, and the second is dominated by subsistence agriculture on communal land (Okhombe community). The objective is to establish a PES implementation framework which will be applicable to a variety of land tenure situations.

Previous projects: NeWater, WETwin, Working for Water , Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier project, Enkangala grassland carbon project with partners, Thukela river basin project

Country or case-study specific expertise of partners: INR, UKZN, UNESCO-IHE, CIRAD G-EAU, SORESMA, PIK, IWMI

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