Beneficiaries of Pongola ESPA
The study benefited a large number of role-players and project participants. At a project level, a number of stakeholder groups including the South African Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, the Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs and the Department of Health together with the conservation agency Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife as well as the local district government and community groups had the opportunity to increase their knowledge and understanding regarding the linkages between ecosystem services and human wellbeing and to use this knowledge to improve management not only of the Pongola system, but across all systems which they are mandated to administer.
In this way, both the environment and local communities across South Africa may benefit from the research through improved ecosystem functioning and rehabilitation. The water user association (recently formalized water committee) was a key partner in the research; all of the above organizations were represented on the WUA.
An increase in ecosystem services, such as improved soil fertility and increased fish stocks is likely to play a significant role in the reduction of poverty, particularly in the long-term. Given the international transboundary nature of the Pongola River (which flows through Mozambique as the Maputo River), improved management of the Pongola system at a local scale is also likely to benefit ecosystems and communities throughout the region.