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Rhodes University (2021)

Ecological infrastructure importance for drought mitigation in rural South African catchments : the Cacadu Catchment case example

Xoxo, Beauten Sinetemba

Titre : Ecological infrastructure importance for drought mitigation in rural South African catchments : the Cacadu Catchment case example

Auteur : Xoxo, Beauten Sinetemba

Université de soutenance : Rhodes University

Grade : Master of Science in Water Resource Science 2021

Résumé partiel
Water scarcity is recognised as one of the significant challenges facing many countries, including South Africa. The threat of water scarcity is exacerbated by the coupled impacts of climate and anthropogenic drivers. Ongoing droughts and continued land cover change and degradation influence the ability of catchments to partition rainwater runoff, thereby affecting streamflow returns. However, quantifying land degradation accurately remains a challenge. This thesis used the theoretical lens of investing in ecological infrastructure to improve the drought mitigation function in rural catchments. This theoretical framework allows for a social-ecological systems approach to understand and facilitate science-based strategies for promoting ecosystem recovery. Specifically, this study aimed to explore the role and benefit of ecological infrastructure for improving drought mitigation, and consequently, water security for rural communities. Thus, this study sought to assess the consequences of human actions to catchment health status using the 15th Sustainable Development Goal indicator for the proportion of degraded land over the total land area as a surrogate. Secondly, hydrological modelling was used to describe how different land covers influence catchment hydrology, which related to how ecological infrastructure enables drought risk-reduction for mitigation regulation. Finally, this study developed a spatial prioritisation plan for restoration to improve drought mitigation for four focal ecological infrastructure (EI) categories (i.e. wetlands, riparian margins, abandoned agricultural fields and grasslands). The focal EI categories were selected for their importance in delivering water-related ecosystem services when sustainably managed. Chapter 1 sets the scene (i.e. provides the study background) and Chapter 2 provides a review of the literature. In Chapter 3, the recently released global GIS toolbox (TRENDS.EARTH) was used for tracking land change and for assessing the SDG 15.3.1 degradation indicator of i.e. Cacadu catchment over 15 years at a 300 m resolution. The results showed a declining trend in biomass productivity within the Cacadu catchment led to moderate degradation, with 16.79% of the total landscape degraded, which was determined by the pugin using the one-out, all-out rule. The incidence of degradation was detected in middle reaches of the catchment (i.e. S10F-J), while some improvement was detected in upper reaches (S10A-C) and lower reaches (S10J)

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Page publiée le 11 mai 2022