South Africa Vulnerability Assessment

A plant near Oudtshoorn, Succulent Karoo, South Africa. © CI/Photo by Haroldo Castro
A plant (Crassula capitela) near Oudtshoorn, Succulent Karoo, South Africa.
© CI/Photo by Haroldo Castro
Ecosystem-based adaptation
In South Africa, the CSA team will be conducting a vulnerability assessment to enable the selection of pilot sites for ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) in the Namakwa District of the Northern Cape. The vulnerability assessment will focus primarily on terrestrial ecosystems with an emphasis on freshwater systems and communal grazing lands. These systems are under threat from grazing pressure, mining, and the impacts of climate change on average temperature and water availability.

The 126,747km2 district forms part of the semi-arid Succulent Karoo Biodiversity Hotspot, one of only two arid hotspots. The Succulent Karoo is home to the richest diversity of succulent flora on earth. It also demonstrates remarkable levels of endemism, with 69 percent plant endemism and high levels of reptile endemism. This rich biodiversity supports a population of around 130,000 people with an economic focus on livestock production using natural grazing methods.

While pressure on biodiversity is less pronounced than in some other areas internationally due to low population densities, the Succulent Karoo is a sensitive system and has been significantly affected by mining activities. Serious overgrazing over much of the veld combined with ploughing in wetlands and along seasonal rivers for dryland agriculture has resulted in widespread land degradation and erosion. The area is also badly affected by natural hazards including periodic droughts and flooding.

Our vision is to research, trial, and integrate land-use best practice for the Succulent Karoo that will reduce vulnerability and build resilience generally in the face of multiple challenges including the impacts of global climate change. The vulnerability assessment will assist with the identification of priority sites and actions for using EbA to achieve improved livelihoods, restored and maintained ecosystem services, and the conservation of species and landscapes.

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