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Media Release: Ecosystem study in Knysna

Date: 2013-10-23

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SANParks and Knysna Municipality are cooperating in assessing the supply of and demand for ecosystem services generated by the Knysna river catchment and the Knysna estuary basin (including the small rivers draining directly into the estuary). There is a growing realisation that the estuary, catchment and town constitute a single socio-ecological system with many critical interconnections.

The purpose of this analysis is to develop a better understanding of the services being generated by the natural systems around Knysna and on which the people of Knysna depend. This understanding will be used to direct future management of the natural and built capital, and to strengthen the relationships of key actors in the system. 

SANParks employed consultants FutureWorks to use their participatory modelling system and facilitate structured discussions about the region’s natural assets and the ecosystem services that these assets supply.  Officials, scientists and stakeholders from various organisations participated in a series of workshops during which a broad range of ecosystem services were identified. Importantly, different scenarios were developed to explore how the relationship between nature and people can potentially unfold and how risks to the sustainable supply of key services can be managed. These future scenarios are Green Growth, Growth and Neglect, Growth, Neglect and Dams, and No Economic Growth and Neglect.

Indigenous forests make up 25% of the Knysna catchment landscape, its plantations (23%), upland fynbos (13%), the remaining land cover including marine, lowland fynbos, agricultural land, the estuary and riparian vegetation. 

Findings of the study will become practical through Municipal environmental planning tools (the Spatial Development Framework, the Biodiversity Planning tools and others). The introduction of a consultant who had worked on a similar project in KZN (Futureworks) has brought a fresh perspective: To plan together, to find more ways to attract tourists to Knysna and keep them here, but also stay mindful and proactive in protecting the wealthy natural capital found in Knysna . 

Collaboration with Knysna Municipality will expand current efforts to eradicate the scourge of invasive alien plant species, as well as to keep pollution away from SA’s number 1 estuary. News of the collaboration is well received by those who think more can come out of this town which once attracted many tourists for its mythical, dense forests. Here natural capital underpins tourism and related activities which include among many adventure sports, nature appreciation activities, water-based recreation, cultural and others.  

Download the Ecosystem Services Assessment for Knysna Estuary and Catchment

Issued by:
South African National Parks (SANParks) Garden Route Communications
Tel: 044 302 5633

Nandi Mgwadlamba
Regional Communications Manager 
Tel: 044 302 5633; Cell: 078 702 9663


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