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Research: KSA 2

(KSA 2) Water-Linked Ecosystems


Water-linked ecosystems are defined as instream (fully aquatic), riparian (dependent on water stored in the river banks and linked to the river) and water table-dependent (dependent on a water table, but not on surface water).

This KSA focuses on the protection and sustainable utilisation of the aquatic environment and biota (instream, riparian and groundwater). This includes the research needs around the international conventions on environmental management (e.g. biodiversity) as well as human needs from the aquatic environment (e.g. sustainable management for equitable ecosystem resource utilisation, recreation and ecotourism). Research undertaken within this KSA will continue to address the conservation of aquatic ecosystems in order to provide the knowledge necessary for their sustainable management and functioning. This will be done in terms of the national and international commitments ensuring that there is ongoing provision of goods and services which people rely on ecosystems to deliver. This research portfolio will contribute in the delivery of mainly two Government outcomes.

Specific outputs for each outcome, which are relevant to the scope of this KSA, will be addressed within the mandate of the WRC. Although special attention will be given to the Government outcomes, no major changes in strategic direction are envisaged and the research portfolio as presented in the previous year’s strategy has been found to be sound and applicable.

The above will be achieved by developing technologies and methodologies, adaptive management processes and capacity to protect the resource and to sustain the flow of goods and services in a time of both demographic and climatic change in the Southern African context. Technologies and methodologies will be developed within this KSA to support the implementation of the national water policy to ensure protection and sustainable resource use and to enhance opportunities to deliver on Government outcomes.


In the light of international trends in research, the portfolio of research falling within the scope of and addressing this KSA will not change. The primary and secondary objectives of this KSA have been found to address future research need scenarios appropriately. The main objective is the provision of knowledge to enable good environmental governance so as to ensure the utilisation and sustainable management of water; and to develop an understanding of the ecological processes underlying the delivery of goods and services from the water-linked ecosystems in a water-scarce country during a time of demographic and climate change.

This will be achieved through the following (secondary) objectives which aim to:

• Develop an understanding of the ecological processes underlying the delivery of goods and services
• Develop the knowledge to sustainably manage, protect and utilise aquatic ecosystems
• Transfer the knowledge to appropriate end-users through the development of innovative tools and methods for effective knowledge dissemination. These will be developed in conjunction with other KSAs within the WRC.
• Strategically align research with the WRC mandate and Government outcomes and other priorities
• Promote good science and build capacity in both research and management to sustainably manage aquatic eco¬systems.

Thrusts and programmes

As indicated above, the research portfolio presented here does not deviate materially from that presented in the 2010/11 plan. The thrust addressing Ecosystem Processes is progressing well and should be maintained. A general description of thrust and programme structure is presented below. New initiatives and current projects have been grouped into strategic thrusts and programmes which directly address the abovementioned objectives and are summarised as follows:

Video Clip : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPY7onCGFxw

 KSA2  Thrusts and programmes 2013 


Thrust 1: Ecosystem Processes

Thrust 2: Ecosystem Management

Thrust 3: Ecosystem Rehabilitation, Remediation and Restoration

Thrust 4:  Sustainable Ecosystem Utilization & Development

Thrust 5:  Ecosystem and Global Change



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