Payment for EcoSystem Services

Payment for EcoSystem Services

Ecosystem goods and services, such as water quality and quantity, are in increasing demand as local, national, regional and global economies and populations expand. With regard to water specifically, Scholes (2001) pertinently states: The availability of water of acceptable quality is predicted to be the single greatest and most urgent development constraint facing South Africa. Virtually all the surface waters are already committed for use, and water is imported from neighbouring countries.

In the same vein, prominent economist Herman Daly wrote: More and more, the complementary factor in short supply (limiting factor) is remaining natural capital, not manmade capital as it used to be. For example, populations of fish, not fishing boats, limit fish catch worldwide. Economic logic says to invest in the limiting factor. That logic has not changed, but the identity of the limiting factor has (Herman Daly, pers. communication, 25 Jan. 2005). It is therefore essential to invest in the limiting resource from a developing perspective: Water. An efficient way to invest in water security is to protect it at its source through prudent land management. In this way, investing in land management becomes a water augmentation, quality and regulation intervention.

Within South Africa, the Maloti Drakensberg mountains are the most strategic water source in the region, supplying much of the sub-continent through rivers, and national and international inter-basin transfers. This initiative has developed a model for investment in water security by using the trade in ecosystem services as sustainable foundation. Two priority case study areas have been assessed, namely: • Mnweni/Catherdal Peak and • The Eastern Cape Drakensberg.

Within these areas, this project assesses the possibility to develop a system with win-win solutions: improved water security, better water flow regulation and water quality, improved land management, improved livelihoods and reduced vulnerability.

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