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Supporting better decision-making around coal mining in the Mpumalanga Highveld through the development of mapping tools and refinement of spatial data on wetlands
Expanded Title:EXECUTIVE SUMMARY BACKGROUND The Mpumalanga Highveld region of South Africa contains one of the highest concentrations of Freshwater Ecosystem Priority Areas (FEPAs) in the country. The unique grassland and wetland association within the area is host to numerous threatened and conservation-worthy species and ecosystems. The area is also the source of several of the country’s major rivers, which collectively contribute 26% of South Africa’s natural mean annual runoff and 28% of its available water yield. Beneath the surface, the Mpumalanga Highveld straddles coalfields that are estimated to collectively contain 51% of national recoverable coal reserves. Opencast mining methods used to extract this coal frequently have significant negative impacts on overlying water-related ecosystems and their constituent biodiversity, and thereby on the ability of these ecosystems to continue to provide water-related ecosystem services to adjacent and downstream users. This region is thus at the centre of a significant water-biodiversity-energy nexus in which the trade-offs are currently more visible and contested than anywhere else in the country. RATIONALE It is the intention that focussing the project within this area will help to mitigate the land-use conflicts and encourage integrated development that accounts for the significant role played by biodiversity and ecosystem services in supporting sustainable development. Regulatory decisions about land-use planning and development rely heavily on the availability and quality of data. The National Freshwater Ecosystem Priority Areas (NFEPA) project achieved a significant step in mapping and prioritising freshwater ecosystems within South Africa. However, the national scale of the project means that finer-scale applications are constrained by data accuracy issues. In an area such as the Mpumalanga Highveld, where highly accurate data is needed to support regulatory decision-making, further refinement of the wetland data is essential. Not only is such data important to regulatory decision-making, but it also forms the basis for a number of decision support tools and guidelines being developed for the mining sector.
Date Published:01/02/2015
Document Type:Research Report
Document Subjects:Ecosystem - Biodiversity protection, Mine water - Impact prediction
Document Keywords:Environment, Policy and regulation, Pollution control, Water Quality
Document Format:Report
Document File Type:pdf
Research Report Type:Technical
WRC Report No:TT 614/14
ISBN No:978-1-4312-0606-3
Authors:Mbona N; Job N; Smith J; Nel J; Holness S; Memani S; Dini J
Project No:K5/2281
Originator:WRC
Document Size:10 193 KB
Attachments:Appendix A in Word.docx
Stakeholder Report.pdf
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