Special Session: Arm in arm - linking conservation managers and local communities to achieve conservation goals

Tuesday 5 November 2019, 11h00 until 13h00

How community partnerships and citizen science tools can be used to achieve catchment conservation by incorporating protection of aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity, restoration of degraded lands and improved water resources management, with a specific focus on key aspects of aquatic ecosystems, identification of priority areas, water recourse challenges, social processes, tools for monitoring and management, and the potential upscaling of citizen science tools.

The well-being of life on Earth is governed by the availability of clean water. Despite only 0.014% of all water on Earth being accessible as freshwater, 80% of these resources are currently being impacted through human activities. As a 'water-scarce' country, South African catchments have experienced continued anthropogenic pressure for several decades, and this has direct and indirect implications for the rivers and wetlands that support the natural water resource base. The current drought and recent flooding events throughout South Africa have had significant impacts on the environment and human well-being alike, and as such, the conservation and management of South Africa's freshwater ecosystems and associated terrestrial ecosystems is now imperative if we are to adequately protect these precious commodities. Moreover, the conservation of freshwater ecosystems through holistic catchment planning and management contributes to the fulfilment of a number of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and particularly SDG 3 "Good Health and Well-Being", SDG 6 "Clean Water and Sanitation", SDG 14 "Life Below Water" and SDG 16 "Life on Land". Contrary to this, the emphasis is often not placed on freshwater systems, despite the critical role they play in biodiversity conservation; acting as natural linkages between terrestrial and coastal/marine systems while supplying vital ecosystem services and supporting human well-being.

It is necessary to prioritise the conservation of water resources and associated ecosystems (i.e. terrestrial and aquatic), and yet adequate monitoring and evaluation of such systems around the country is often limited by financial and logistical constraints. Increasingly, it is being appreciated that catchment-wide management, which actively integrates the communities living in those catchments, is required in order to achieve sustainable water resource conservation goals. This led to the recent launch of the "Capacity 4 Catchments" information platform through the Water Research Commission, and published report "Development of Citizen Science Water Resource Monitoring Tools and Communities of Practice for South Africa and the World". It is in this light that we wish to highlight the efforts, innovations, and tools currently available that may enhance community-level involvement in identifying and addressing issues within aquatic environments that are linked to the overall health of a catchment. The session will also showcase how catchment conservation through citizen science and community partnerships can be used to enhance biodiversity conservation efforts. An overview of catchment initiatives, freshwater prioritisation planning methods, and source to sea approaches will be presented along with some of the citizen science tools and social learning programmes that have been successfully implemented through various case studies.

  • Scaling and resourcing of citizen science based water quality monitoring tools, Patsy Hampson, GroundTruth
  • Priorisation of catchment areas for improved conservation and water service delivery using GIS spatial analyses: A case study from the Umzimvubu river catchment, Gary de Winnaar, GroundTruth
  • Case study: Mpophomeni Enviro Champs save Midmar project - citizen-based water quality management, Ayanda Lepheana, GroundTruth
  • Citizen science initiatives with a focus on river walks - identified challenges, successes and applicability based on the findings from two cases studies at differing catchment scales, Juan Tedder, GroundTruth
  • Case study: Shiyabizali monitoring of Howick Waste Water Treatment Works, Ayanda Lepheana, GroundTruth
  • The three-legged pot of successful spring sourcing: Case study from Matatiele, Mahabe Mojela, ERS

Navigate between Special Sessions 

Data Management
Elephant Conservation
Indigenous Knowledge
Lead in Wildlife
Maloti-Drakensberg Exposition
PA Management Effectiveness
Protection via Partnerships
Species in Crisis
Vulture Conservation

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