Original Research

Identifying ecosystem service hotspots for environmental management in Durban, South Africa

Rashieda Davids, Mathieu Rouget, Richard Boon, Debra Roberts
Bothalia | Vol 46, No 2 | a2118 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/abc.v46i2.2118 | © 2016 Rashieda Davids, Mathieu Rouget, Richard Boon, Debra Roberts | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 July 2016 | Published: 05 December 2016

About the author(s)

Rashieda Davids, School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Mathieu Rouget, Centre for Invasion Biology, School of Agriculture, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Richard Boon, Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department, eThekwini Municipality, Durban, South Africa and School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Debra Roberts, Sustainable and Resilient City Initiatives Unit, eThekwini Municipality, South Africa and School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Despite considerable research into the importance of ecosystem services, little has been achieved in translating such research into management action. In an urban context where numerous pressures on ecosystem services exist, the identification and management of priority ecosystem services areas are vital to ensure the ongoing provision of these services.
Method: To identify opportunities for securing a sustainable supply of ecosystem services for the city of Durban, this paper identifies ecosystem service priority areas, called hotspots, and assesses their spatial congruence with critical biodiversity areas (CBAs), conservation areas, the Durban Metropolitan Open Space System (D’MOSS) and land ownership categories, using spatial overlap and correlation analyses. Hotspots for 13 ecosystem services were identified and analysed, including carbon storage, nutrient retention, sediment retention, water supply and flood attenuation.
Results: The study found generally weak correlations between ecosystem service hotspots and CBAs and conservation areas. On average, 30% of the 13 ecosystem services hotspots were located within terrestrial CBAs, 51% within the D’MOSS, with nominal overlaps of 0.3%, 3.9% and 5.07% within estuaries and freshwater CBAs and conservation areas, respectively. The majority of ecosystem service hotspots were located within communally (41%) or privately owned (27%) lands.
Conclusion: The results indicated that substantial portions of hotspot areas lie outside of formally regulated and managed conservation areas and remain vulnerable to human impact and habitat degradation. The study identified management areas and options that could yield maximum benefits; including the need for the development of an ecosystem services management and protection strategy, the selection of areas for co-management of ecosystem service hotspots and CBAs and the need for collaborative management.

Keywords

Ecosystem Services; Environmental Planning; Environmental Management; Biodiversity

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