The Idea of Ecological Infrastructure

Ecological or Natural infrastructure refers to functioning ecosystems that produce and deliver services that are of value to society, such as fresh water, climate regulation, soil formation and disaster risk reduction. Natural infrastructure is the nature-based equivalent of built infrastructure. It includes healthy catchments, rivers, wetlands, and nodes and corridors of critical natural habitat, which together form a network of interconnected structural elements in the landscape. Because natural infrastructure is largely free, its value is often not captured in market transactions and we tend to under-invest in it.
Kevan Zunckel.

In South Africa 84% of river ecosystems are threatened, with 54% critically endangered.  Without water, we will not survive!  The Greater uMngeni River Catchment is of strategic significance to South Africa as it supports the third largest economic hub in the country, through the supply of water necessary to deliver water and sanitation services for social and economic needs to over 4 million people. 

Water is central to food and energy security.  The Midlands is located within a National Freshwater Priority Area and for this reason, our water resources, including the grasslands and forests on which they rely, need to be protected.  A decrease in ecosystems’ biodiversity is cause for considerable concern because it leads to a reduction in their goods and services, such as a reduced capacity to generate clean water and a loss of food production due to land degradation.

By improving the biodiversity of the area, the value of the goods and services the ecosystems provide will improve, which in turn, will improve the quality of life of the Midlands residents and communities and those living downstream. We will be working through our member Conservancies of the Forum to raise awareness of the role of ecosystems in supporting our lives and livelihoods. 

Read Kevan Zunckel's article Investing in Nature on the MCF blogsite here.

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