Welcome to the lunch seminar: with Dr. Lulu Pretorius from University of KwaZulu-Natal/South Africa.
The Maputaland Coastal Plain, located on the north-eastern seaboard of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, is characterized by relatively untouched natural landscapes, a diversity of ecosystem types, and many rare and endemic species. Until recently the Tonga and Zulu populations living in this area were relatively small and self-sustaining by means of subsistence living.
Over the past few decades a drastic increase in legal and illegal woodlots, alongside the effects of climate change, has resulted massive impacts on the regional hydrology of the area. In places, these impacts have caused the water table to drop up to 20 meters - directly affecting not only the environment, but also the livelihood of the people depending on groundwater and wetlands. Although communities are realizing that the woodlots (which are a cash injection for hundreds of families) are impacting on their water security, they are powerless and incapacitated against poverty and poor living conditions, political domination, and the effects of climate change. This seemingly straightforward matter is in fact a complex and volatile issue, which cannot be resolved by one or two stakeholders alone.
The answer to the looming socio-ecological tragedy requires collaboration and commitment from politicians, government, scientists, conservationists, and most of all the local communities. It is a situation that requires a bottom-up transformative paradigm shift from all spheres of stakeholders, and can only be resolved in a collective matter.