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(KSA 2) Water-Linked Ecosystems 

Thrust 1: Ecosystem Processes

This thrust includes research addressing the biophysical processes, form and function of ecosystems. This understanding will assist those managing the resource (water services, crop and aquaculture, biodiversity, etc.) to maximise socio-economic benefits in a sustainable manner. The aim is to generate knowledge that informs policy and management.

Programme 1: Rivers, Wetlands,  Groundwater, and Dams processes

Scope: Programmes to investigate the ecosystem functioning, structure and processes of riparian zones, rivers and impoundments will be developed. This is an area in which South Africa needs improved capability to manage, and in the case of riparian zones, this is a topic attracting international interest.

Programme 2: Estuarine, Coastal and Marine Processes

Scope:  Estuarine, coastal and marine systems are fragile, while they are highly productive ecosystems and are highly sought after as places to live and establish various enterprises. The catchments activities and land uses affect terrestrial water resources and ultimately the estuarine environment, while the marine water conditions also have an impact on the estuarine environment and ecosystems. Projects in this programme will generate knowledge about the ecological processes, structure, and functions of ecosystems of these systems.  The programme will also address the impact of land uses and the marine conditions on ecological processes in the estuarine and coastal environment.

Programme 3: Aquatic, Riparian, and Land Connectivity

Scope: Research will be conducted to develop understanding of the interconnections among various ecosystems and ecological processes and functions of water resources, terrestrial systems (soil, air and vegetation) and assessing their value to both the catchment and people.

Programme 4: Surface and groundwater Interactions

Scope: Within this programme, the dynamics of groundwater-dependent ecosystems will be investigated in relation to the aquifers on which they depend. This will be related to exploitation of the groundwater. Special attention will be given to the vulnerability of these systems.

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