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Mountains as a critical source of ecosystem services: the case of the Drakensberg, South Africa

S. J. Ngwenya (), E. Torquebiau and J. W. H. Ferguson
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S. J. Ngwenya: University of Pretoria
E. Torquebiau: University of Pretoria
J. W. H. Ferguson: University of Pretoria

Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, 2019, vol. 21, issue 2, 1035-1052

Abstract: Abstract Mountain natural resource use and consequent ecosystem services for three diverse rural communities around the Mariepskop Mountain in the Mpumalanga Drakensberg, South Africa, were studied using interview and focus group discussions. The mountain provides a diverse range of critical ecosystem services to surrounding rural communities up to distances further than 20 km. Of the low-income village-level households, 90% continuously depended on firewood and water. Commercial farmers valued mountain water and indigenous insect pollinators. For more affluent village inhabitants, the aesthetic and historic values of the mountain are paramount. The ecosystem services identified by these three communities differed strongly with different community-specific ecosystem services. Ecosystem services identified by these communities were primarily influenced by household distance from the mountain and socio-economic status, with resource use decreasing with distance for most mountain resources with the exception of water. The importance of this mountain to livelihoods whilst ensuring resilience requires governance that takes into account socio-economic-based diversity in the use of ecosystem services and spatial diversity of natural resources utilization.

Keywords: Natural resources; Ecosystem services; Socio-economic characteristics; Rural livelihoods; Mountains (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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