ACDI Seminar Series:Research findings in the context of the Bergriver Interdisciplinary Project
The ACDI Bergriver Interdisciplinary Project brings together a network of academic, practitioners and civil society members working within the ambit of the Bergrivier Municipality, to facilitate knowledge sharing, relationship building and applied interdisciplinary research. This seminar will draw on the research findings of two students who have undertaken research within the Bergrivier Municipality. We hope that the presentation of the findings from two quite different research projects, will both be of interest to the wider academic community at UCT, and strengthen and inform the future work of the ACDI Bergriver Interdisciplinary Project.
"Mapping the governance landscape related to ecosystem-based adaptation in the Bergrivier Municipality, Western Cape, South Africa." by Sarah Haiden (ACDI MSc student)
In recent years, increasing attention has been paid to the governance of climate change adaptation planning and implementation. In addition, local-level organisations (state and non-state) are becoming recognised as having a central role to play in responding to climate adaptation owing to the fact that the actual impacts of the climate change are experienced at the local level. Much work remains, however, before it is fully understood how the nature of, and interactions between such organisations influence the adaptation process. Using a nodal governance framework and basic social network analysis, it is investigated how existing governance structures and processes might support or constrain adaptive action to climate change (with a focus on ecosystem-based adaptation) within the Bergrivier municipal area, Western Cape, South Africa.
"Longterm (1973-2013) vegetation change in the Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area" by Nicola Kuhn (Biological Sciences, Honours, UCT)
The Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area (GWWA) was heavily impacted by settler farmers in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was used as an important summer grazing area for sheep farmers and was subject to frequent burning. The area was declared a conservation area in 1970 and as a result the grazing by domestic ungulates was eliminated and fires were largely suppressed. In this study we resurveyed the vegetation in the Langvlei region of the GWWA in accordance with methods used by researchers within the Forestry Department in 1973. The main objective of the study was to assess the ecological health of the GWWA after 40 years of protected area management using the following ecological indicators: 1) Changes in the intensity of gulley erosion and the extent of soil deposition areas, 2) Extent and direction of change in species composition and cover, 3) Change in the demography of Protea nitida and Protea laurifolia populations and 4) Change in cover of thicket taxa associated with rocky outcrops. Changes observed in the survey data were related to historical climate (1973 – 2012) and fire records (1974 – 2010). Results showed that gulley erosion had stabilized and that most deposition areas had become vegetated since 1973. Total basal cover was approximately eight times greater than it was in 1973. The Protea nitida population was more than five and a half times greater and had a large number of juvenile individuals. The Protea laurifolia population was approximately four times greater, with the dominant class shifting from adults in 1973 to seedlings in 2013. These trends can be attributed to the decline in fire frequency as a result of the management shift to protection. The extensive fire in 2009, however, has resulted in a reduction (8-20%) of thicket cover at some, but not all, rocky outcrop locations where the increase in thicket cover ranged between 1 and 23%. While evidence suggests an improvement of most ecosystem health indicators and therefore an effective management regime, the GWWA is still at risk of being affected by climate change with an increased aridity and occurrence of wildfires predicted for the area