Mountains as a critical source of ecosystem services: the case of the Drakensberg, South Africa
- 206 Downloads
Mountain natural resource use and consequent ecosystem services for three diverse rural communities around the Mariepskop Mountain in the Mpumalanga Drakensberg, South Africa, were studied using interview and focus group discussions. The mountain provides a diverse range of critical ecosystem services to surrounding rural communities up to distances further than 20 km. Of the low-income village-level households, 90% continuously depended on firewood and water. Commercial farmers valued mountain water and indigenous insect pollinators. For more affluent village inhabitants, the aesthetic and historic values of the mountain are paramount. The ecosystem services identified by these three communities differed strongly with different community-specific ecosystem services. Ecosystem services identified by these communities were primarily influenced by household distance from the mountain and socio-economic status, with resource use decreasing with distance for most mountain resources with the exception of water. The importance of this mountain to livelihoods whilst ensuring resilience requires governance that takes into account socio-economic-based diversity in the use of ecosystem services and spatial diversity of natural resources utilization.
KeywordsNatural resources Ecosystem services Socio-economic characteristics Rural livelihoods Mountains
We wish to thank the National Research Foundation (NRF) who funded this work and Geldenhuys Sawmill, together with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), for providing facilities during the study. We also thank the Sethlare Tribal Council for the wise counsel and guidance.
Funding was provided by National Research Foundation South Africa (Grant No. N0006077318).
- ARD. (2009). Agricultural research for development. In R. Hawkins (Ed.), Collective innovation: A resource book. Pretoria: Agriculture Research Council.Google Scholar
- De Beer, F. C. (1999). Mountains as cultural resources: Values and management issues. South African Journal of Ethnology, 22(1), 20–25.Google Scholar
- Department of Water Affairs (DWA). (2009). Environmental management framework for the Olifants and Letaba River catchment areas: Draft report on the status quo, opportunities, constraints and the desired state. Pretoria: DWA.Google Scholar
- Ikkala, N. (2011). Ecosystem-based adaptation in mountain ecosystems: Challenges and opportunities in Nepal, Peru and Uganda. Gland: IUCN.Google Scholar
- Körner, C., & Ohsawa, M. (2005). Mountain systems. In B. Fitzharries & K. Shrestha (Eds.), Ecosystem and human well-being: Condition and trends (pp. 677–712). Washington, DC: Island Press.Google Scholar
- MEA. (2005). Ecosystems and human well-being: Synthesis. Millennium ecosystem assessment. Washington, DC: Island Press.Google Scholar
- Mucina, L., & Rutherford, M. C. (2006). The vegetation of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. Strelitzia 19. Pretoria: SANBI.Google Scholar
- Pollard, S., Shackleton, C. M., & Curruthers, J. (2003). Beyond the fence: People and the lowveld landscape. In J. T. du Toit, K. H. Rogers, & H. C. Biggs (Eds.), The Kruger experience: Ecology and management of savanna heterogeneity (pp. 422–446). Washington, DC: Island Press.Google Scholar
- Price, M. F. (1998). Mountains: Globally important ecosystems. Unasylva, 49, 3–10.Google Scholar
- R Core Team. (2011). R: A language and environment for statistical computing. Vienna: R Foundation for Statistical Computing.Google Scholar
- Rugumamu, W. (2004). The utilisation of Africa’s environmental resources and the challenges of globalisation: A case study from the Eastern Tanzania. African Journal of International Affairs, 7, 133–165.Google Scholar
- Sheil, D., Ducey, M., Ssali, F., Ngubwagye, J. M., Van Heist, M., & Ezuma, P. (2011). Bamboo for people, mountain gorillas, and golden monkeys: Evaluating harvest and conservation trade-offs and synergies in the Virunga Volcanoes. Forestry and Management Journal, 267, 163–171.Google Scholar
- Shively, G. (2011). Measuring livelihoods and environmental dependence: Methods for research and fieldwork. Sampling: Who, how and how many? In A. Angelsen, H. O. Larsen, J. F. Lund, C. Smith-Hall, & S. Wunder (Eds.), Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). Bogor: Earthscan.Google Scholar
- Twine, W. (2011). Drivers of natural resource use by rural households in the Central Lowveld. In L. Zietsman (Ed.), Observations of environmental change in South Africa (pp. 17–19). Stellenbosch: Sun Press.Google Scholar
- Twine, W., Moshe, D., Netshiluvhi, T., & Siphugu, V. (2003). Consumption and direct-use values of savanna bio-resources used by rural households in Mametja, a semi-arid area of Limpopo province, South Africa. South African Journal of Science, 99, 467–473.Google Scholar
- UN. (2002). United Nations report on the World summit sustainable development, Johannesburg, August 26 to September 4. New York: United Nations.Google Scholar
- Van der Schijff, H. P., & Schoonraad, E. (1971). The flora of the Mariepskop complex. Bothalia, 10(3), 461–500.Google Scholar