Sustainable Management of Wetlands
For the Limpopo river basin the various wetland resources were mapped at a scale of 1:250,000. Ongoing work aims to create typologies of the wetlands to enable extrapolation of results from empirical research in specific wetlands. The Limpopo wetlands map was produced and the methodology used will be extended elsewhere in southern Africa. The study explored automated and semi-automated techniques and highlighted the strengths and limitations of various methods, approaches, and datasets used in mapping wetlands. Detailed information of the areas by land use type in the wetlands was produced and is available in map format. Additional information and maps are available at
Livelihoods analysis was been carried out as a step in assessing the benefits and costs of wetland utilization as a precursor in dynamic modeling and scenario building with stakeholders. The exercise in mapping households' access to resources showed that while there are differences between wetland cultivators and non-cultivators in terms of their access to livelihoods assets there are no robust consistencies to suggest which of the groups is better endowed than the other. This work is ongoing and similar analysis will be carried out at other research sites.
From an integrated modeling perspective the first steps of setting up a conceptual model for tradeoffs analysis, particularly agreeing on the vital research components and how these were interlinked within the wetland ecosystems have been accomplished. The innovativeness of the model is in how such a complex multi-disciplinary approach to assessing trade-offs in wetlands can be implemented, including not only productive aspects of the wetlands, but processes as well and how the processes are linked to the biophysical components of the wetlands. This is a departure from what is usually presented as the wetland biodiversity conservation and resource use debate. This approach adds value by demonstrating the connectivity between the social, economic and ecological sub- systems and across the social and ecological connections within the landscape, as mediated by the water regime.
A number of MSc students have worked (and continue to work) on the projects. A number of workshops with stakeholders have facilitated discussions with wetland users, allowing the project team to understand in detail the uses of the wetlands and tradeoffs involved. This has contributed to capacity building of both researchers and community members.
Analysis of hydrological data is ongoing. Some of the results will be presented at a southern Africa regional symposium in November 2006.