Key Pongola ESPA findings and outputs

Altered flow regimes as a result of the construction of the Pongolapoort Dam coupled with anthropogenic impacts, have had a significant effect on the functioning of the downstream ecosystems and the associated supply of ecosystem services. The PRESPA study illustrated trade-offs
between ecosystem services in the region.

Results from the PRESPA study suggested that overall there has been a downward trend in almost all ecosystem services since 1955. Most importantly, all regulating and supporting services considered in the study (which underpin all other services) have shown a decline. This decline suggests that
while cultivation of food and cash crops may render reasonable yields in the short term, it is unlikely to be sustainable in the longer-term without the application of fertilizers and pesticides. The decisions made by stakeholders and managers regarding trade-offs illustrated the perceived value of
ecosystem services by different stakeholder groups particularly in respect of provisioning services.

Consideration of alternative management scenarios suggests that without effective management interventions the decline in ecosystem services on the floodplain is likely to continue into the future. Careful consideration needs to be given to the type of economy and associated institutional
arrangements which are necessary to ensure the continued supply of important ecosystem services on which the well-being of current and future generations depend.

The PRESPA study identified the lack of structured and effective governance to be a key threat to ecosystem services in the region. In addition, the management of flood releases to support a single sector economy again illustrated a trade-off to enhance a particular provisioning service at the
expense of the less tangible regulating and supporting services. The lack of attention afforded to regulating and supporting services may result in a lack of resilience and render the socio-ecological system on the Pongola floodplain more vulnerable to environmental change.

The following key outputs of the project were produced:

Project advocacy documents

Project report

Journal article

Project flyer

N.B. Text taken from the original website text hosted by the University of East Anglia, now hosted by INR in South Africa.

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