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Accueil du site → Doctorat → Afrique du Sud → A pluralistic, socio-ecological approach to understand the long-term impact of mountain conservation : a counterfactual and place-based assessment of social, ecological and hydrological change in the Groot Winterhoek Mountains of the Cape Floristic Region

University of Cape Town (2017)

A pluralistic, socio-ecological approach to understand the long-term impact of mountain conservation : a counterfactual and place-based assessment of social, ecological and hydrological change in the Groot Winterhoek Mountains of the Cape Floristic Region

Holden, Petra Brigitte

Titre : A pluralistic, socio-ecological approach to understand the long-term impact of mountain conservation : a counterfactual and place-based assessment of social, ecological and hydrological change in the Groot Winterhoek Mountains of the Cape Floristic Region

Auteur : Holden, Petra Brigitte

Université de soutenance : University of Cape Town.

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2017

Résumé partiel
The problem : For protected areas to remain relevant, we need to understand their impact on a wide set of conservation objectives and environmental outcomes. We also need to evaluate how this influence relates to the socio-ecological environment within which they occur. This is a complex endeavour requiring a pluralistic approach, which draws on a wide range of interdisciplinary fields. Research question : This thesis addresses the following question : What effects do mountain protected areas have on ecosystem services over time and how does this influence relate to broader socio-economic and ecological drivers of landscape change ? Aim and objectives : I use a pluralistic, socio-ecological framing to assess the impact of 40 years of mountain protection, drawing on comparisons of 30 and 40 years before and after protection respectively, with an adjacent area of similar terrain informing scenarios of counterfactual conditions. I also investigate what types of values (economic and intrinsic) are important when determining the impact of mountain protected areas. Thesis approach and methods : I operationalise the concepts of socio-ecological systems, ecosystem services, land use transitions and counterfactuals to investigate socio-ecological change and how it relates to protected area impact in the Groot Winterhoek, a mountain catchment in the south-western Cape of South Africa. This mountain catchment is important for regional water supplies for agricultural and domestic uses and falls in the Cape Floristic Region, a global biodiversity hotspot. It is comprised of privately owned mountain wildlands and a wilderness-protected area, known as the Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area, established in 1978 (gazetted in 1985) which forms part of the Cape Floristic Region World Heritage Site. I combine methods from social science, ecology, environmental geography, geomatics and hydrology to understand the history of land use and cover (land use/cover) and associated ecosystem service trade-offs, how they are perceived by landowners as well as their wider impact on the region. Specifically, I assess the impact of protection on land use/cover, vegetation, fire and water flows over the last 50 years, by comparing and contextualising results of change within the protected area to alternative scenarios of “no protection” (the counterfactual conditions). Vegetation and land use/cover change inside the protected area were determined respectively using 72 repeat terrestrial photographs and vegetation surveys, and an analysis of orthorectified aerial imagery. Methods used to construct the counterfactual scenarios of mechanisms (e.g. changes in land use/cover) that would likely drive vegetation changes inside the protected area included : i) 60 repeat surveys and in-depth interviews with landowners adjacent or proximal to the protected area owning unprotected land of similar terrain to the protected area ; and ii) land use/cover change analysis of orthorectified aerial imagery of adjacent unprotected land of similar terrain before and after protected area establishment. 4 This latter information was used to understand the role of the protected area in driving vegetation changes inside the protected area. Social, biophysical and remote sensing results were directly used to parameterise land use/cover components of a hydrological model to determine the influence of protection on water flows.

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Page publiée le 8 janvier 2019