Browsing by Author "Wessels, Nadia"
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- ItemAssessing the role of natural open spaces in ecosystem service provision for enhanced urban planning in the global south(Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2022-04) Wessels, Nadia; Esler, Karen J.; Sitas, Nadia; O'Farrell, Patrick; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of AgriSciences. Dept. of Conservation Ecology and Entomology.ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Natural open space plays an important role in maintaining biodiversity and providing essential ecosystem services, i.e. the contributions we get from nature. Yet, natural systems within urban areas continue to be exploited and encroached upon, and are often undervalued in urban planning and management decisions, particularly within the context of the Global South where institutional constraints, and complex socio-economic and political priorities prevail. In response to these challenges, this research assessed the role of natural open space in ecosystem service provision for enhanced urban planning in the Global South, by using a case study of the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, situated in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. The research explored how understanding the benefits (ecosystem services) derived from natural open space can optimise and improve planning, which can, in turn, enable more people to benefit from the ecosystem services provided in cities. Urban natural open space systems form part of complex adaptive social-ecological systems. The realisation and optimisation of the ecosystem services provided by natural open space systems require an understanding of how land cover change affects ecosystem services, and consideration of implementation challenges and opportunities related to mainstreaming ecosystem services into urban planning, which include community and local government needs and priorities within the socio-economic and political context. Developing and implementing natural open space plans requires a transdisciplinary approach that moves beyond disciplines, such as the natural and social sciences only, to incorporate other ways of knowing and feedbacks between different knowledge systems, for example, linking practitioners’ and indigenous and local knowledge, where context-specific human needs, attitudes and values are recognised. The multidimensional outcomes of implementing urban conservation plans (or natural open space plans) are rarely critically evaluated. By providing a framework for monitoring and evaluating conservation outcomes and understanding the causal linkages and reasons for the success and failure of conservation outcomes, this research facilitates the institutionalisation of adaptive management approaches, enhancing urban planning and conservation and social outcomes. Through qualitative interviews with community members representing the city’s diverse socio- economic and ethnic variability (living near natural open space), the complex relational values with nature, and nuanced interpretations of how natural open space delivers ecosystem services were explored. Non-material services (relational benefits) were impacted by exploitative material uses, access concerns, and (mis)management. Management of natural open space also has significant implications for intra and inter-generational equity in respect of the benefits of ecosystem services, and the experience of ecosystem disservices, which require explicit consideration in municipal planning, budgeting and management. Innovative collaborative management and stewardship interventions with ecological and socio-economic benefits should be prioritised to protect the natural open space system. In the Global South the benefits of urban nature in terms of the supply and provision of ecosystem services are inequitably distributed and intertwined in complex socio-political processes. The degree to which the ecosystem services provided by natural open space are valued by local government officials, planned for, prioritised, and incorporated in decision- making, in terms of temporal and spatial implications, need to be understood. Institutional constraints of many local governments in the Global South, such as data and resource capacity, inhibit the appropriate consideration and incorporation of ecosystem services into urban planning. In such instances, expert (scientific) knowledge should be used to contribute to understanding the context-specific diverse ecosystem services provided by natural open space, and the implications of land cover changes on ecosystem service provision associated with rapid urbanisation. This expert understanding then needs to be incorporated with other knowledge systems. The research has emphasised the collective role of community members, civil society and the private sector; city officials and decision-makers; and scientists and researchers in the effective integration of ecosystem services into urban planning, in steering cities towards a sustainable trajectory. There is no panacea for effectively integrating ecosystem services into urban planning. Instead, advancing ecosystem services in urban planning requires various context-specific initiatives and approaches, which allow for collaborative governance and innovative nature-based solutions, and which give due consideration to intra and inter- generational equity. The research identifies opportunities for how to incorporate and catalyse stewardship for natural open space systems and contextually appropriate interventions that could be employed in other cities. It also highlights the need to understand the implications of trade-offs associated with the socio-economic drivers of land transformation over ecosystem service retention as cities in the Global South continue to grow and develop. The methodology followed in this research shows that an understanding of urban ecosystem services is possible without expensive and / or data-intensive decision-making tools, and similar approaches could be followed in other under-resourced cities in the Global South, which can then be used to enhance urban planning.
- ItemThe challenge of environmental governance : the case of mainstreaming biodiversity in productive landscapes, with specific reference to the Gouritz initiative in the Western Cape(Unisa Press, 2012-03) Wessels, Nadia; Kobus, MullerSouth Africa boasts one of the world's richest and most diverse natural landscapes and is world-renowned for its biodiversity. The Cape Floristic Region, particularly, is the world's sixth and smallest floral kingdom and the only one housed within the confines of a single country and predominantly within the Western Cape Province. It is also the richest, with more than 9 000 plant species. This region is considered one of the world's 25 most threathened biodiversity hotspots; most of the priority areas fall outside of existing statutorily protected areas and are mainly on privately owned land. Ensuring ecological sustainability across a diverse range of productive sectors and landscapes requires partnerships and a form of environmental governance that mediates the interactions between society, the economy and ecological functions. The collaborative environmental governance process is complex, as a result of the multitude and diverse range of socio-economic and political issues; the cross-cutting nature of environmental issues that span national, provincial and local spheres of government; and the uncertainty and unpredictability of ecological processess and functions, particularly on a landscape scale. This article focuses on the Gouritz initiative, a landscape-scale conservation and development initiative in the Western Cape. It was established in recognition of the challenges of concurrent governance for the long-term protection of the area's globally significant biodiversity. The continued efforts of collaborative planning, implementation and adaptation in the Gouritz Initiative have demonstrated that despite the complex, ongoing challenges associated with cooperative environmental governance, conservation initiatives can be successful if society's nees, most of which are socio-economic, are balanced with the need for biodiversity protection.