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Title: Strategic Water Source Areas: protecting critical ecological infrastructure for human well-being and biodiversity
Authors: Le Maitre, David
Seyler, Helen
Smith-Adao, Lindie
Nel, Jeanne
Keywords: Strategic Water Source Areas
Issue Date: 22-Jun-2017
Series/Report no.: Biodiversity Planning Forum;
Abstract: The protection of Strategic Water Source Areas (SWSAs), for both ground and surface water, is critical for achieving water security and for sustaining the aquatic ecosystems that provide and convey the water. The SWSAs cover 22.95 million ha of land with only 1.96 million ha (8.53%) in formal protected areas, and include state, tribal trust and privately-owned land. The existing land-uses include natural rangelands and areas which are cultivated, forest plantations, urban or otherwise transformed and there are already extensive alien plant invasions in many SWSAs. Many of the activities in these areas have adverse impacts on water quantity or quality which need to be avoided or mitigated, and much of the land needs restoration to reduce sediment loss. Protection of the quantity and quality of the water that the SWSAs provide will require a co-ordinated and collaborative approach involving various government bodies and the private sector. The extent, range of land ownership and existing uses make formal protection unworkable and unachievable. The best option is to combine a bottom-up approach of water and land stewardship (e.g. LandCare) with top-down co-operative governance. Achieving effective water source area protection on this scale will require new and innovative approaches.
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