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Rhodes University (2022)

The assessment of degradation state in Ecological Infrastructure and prioritisation for rehabilitation and drought mitigation in the Tsitsa River Catchment

Mahlaba, Bawinile

Titre : The assessment of degradation state in Ecological Infrastructure and prioritisation for rehabilitation and drought mitigation in the Tsitsa River Catchment

Auteur : Mahlaba, Bawinile

Université de soutenance : Rhodes University

Grade : Master of Science (MS) 2022

Résumé partiel
Ecosystem degradation is a serious concern globally, including in South Africa, because of the potential adverse impacts on food security, livelihoods, climate change, biodiversity, and ecosystem services. Ecosystem degradation can result in flow alteration in the landscape through changes in the hydrological regime. The study adopts the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) Framework of Investing in Ecological Infrastructure (EI) to prioritise the restoration of degraded ecosystems and maintain ecosystem structures and functions. This study aims to assess how EI (specifically wetlands, grassland, abandoned cultivated fields, and riparian zone) can facilitate drought mitigation : to assess land degradation status and identify priority EI areas that can be restored to improve the drought mitigation capacity. Two assessment methods were used in this study. Firstly, the Trends.Earth tool was used to assess degradation and land cover change from the year 2000-2015 in Tsitsa catchment, through assessment of Sustainable Development Goal degradation indicator (SDG15.3.1) at a resolution of 300 m. The degradation indicator uses information from three sub-indicators : Productivity, Landcover and Soil Organic Carbon to compute degraded areas. The degraded areas need to be restored and rehabilitated to maintain the flow of essential ecosystems services provided by EI. The second assessment used the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP), which integrates stakeholder inputs into a multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA). The AHP is a useful decision support system that considers a range of quantitative and qualitative alternatives in making a final decision to solve complex problems. As part of the AHP analysis, participatory mapping using Participatory Geographic Information System was conducted to obtain stakeholder inputs for prioritising restoration of the key EI categories (wetlands, grassland, abandoned cultivated fields, and riparian zone) in the catchment. During the participatory mapping, communities prioritised the key EI based on three criteria : (1) ecosystem health, (2) water provisioning and (3) social benefits. The AHP method was used in ArcGIS to prioritise suitable key EI restoration areas with high potential to increase water recharge and storage, contribute to drought mitigation and ecosystem services for the catchment. The prioritisation of EI for community livelihoods in the AHP analysis included all three main criteria. In comparison, the prioritisation of suitable key EI restoration areas for flow regulations was based on two criteria : ecosystem health and water provisioning.

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Page publiée le 6 juin 2022