Source to Sea Programme

 

The Source to Sea Programme recognizes the connectivity that exists between rivers, wetlands, estuaries, coasts and marine ecosystems as well as the complex relationships that human society has with them. We are well-positioned to address broad ecological, social and economic issues that affect our rivers and oceans in southern Africa and we play a key role in bridging the divide between research, policy and conservation action on the ground.

The Programme contributes to the strategic imperatives of the EWT by protecting and restoring key habitats that are important for freshwater and marine biodiversity, ensuring targeted threatened species are protected in viable populations, engaging local women and youth in conservation and natural resources management, establishing “Green Economies” in key areas and fostering strategic partnerships that address broader-scale issues beyond conservation. We are currently operational in the Marico Catchment, North West Province; the Orange River Mouth, Northern Cape; the Amathole mountain catchment area, Eastern Cape; Olifants-Doring and Breede catchments in the Western Cape; Gauteng; and the Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique.
Our conservation strategy is guided, largely by the National Spatial Biodiversity Assessment (2011):


Freshwater Marine, Coastal and Estuary

Key findings:

  • Tributaries are in a better condition than main rivers
  • Freshwater and estuarine ecosystems are highly threatened
  • Freshwater Ecosystem Priority Areas (FEPAs) comprise only 22% of the 1:500 000 river length
  • There are only 62 large free-flowing rivers, representing only 4% of our river length
  • Only 18% of our water supply areas are formally protected
By protecting only 15% of our river length we protect all our fish on the brink of extinction

Key findings:

  • 47% of marine and coastal habitat types are threatened
  • 40% of marine and coastal habitat types have zero protection
  • Only 6% of marine and coastal habitats are well protected
  • Fishing remains the greatest pressure on marine biodiversity
  • Coastal development is the greatest pressure on coastal biodiversity
  • Freshwater flow reduction impacts marine, coastal and estuarine ecosystems
  • The majority of marine resources are overexploited and several marine and coastal species are threatened
  • Marine alien and invasive species are an emerging pressure
  • Climate change has ecological, fisheries, resource management and socio-economic implications

Key messages:

  • Freshwater Ecosystem Priority Areas are a valuable national asset
  • Freshwater inputs are critical to estuarine and marine environments
  • Free-flowing rivers are an important part of our natural heritage
  • Healthy tributaries and wetlands support the sustainability of hard-working rivers
  • Healthy buffers of natural vegetation mitigate the impact of land-based activities
  • Groundwater sustains river flows particularly in dry seasons
  • Mountain catchment areas play a critical role in securing our water supplies
Healthy freshwater ecosystems support resilience and adaptation to climate change

Key messages:

  • Many opportunities exist to secure South Africa’s marine and coastal habitats
  • South Africa is poised to expand its Marine Protected Area network
  • MPAs are valuable national assets that deliver ecosystem services and socio-economic benefits
  • Overexploited fish stocks can recover and provide long-term food and job security
  • Integrated coastal management supports key ecosystem services and climate change adaptation
  • Fresh water flowing into the sea is not wasted and is critical for ecosystem functioning
Early detection, risk assessment and quick management action can prevent future invasions by alien species

Recommended priority actions:

  • Employ aquatic ecologists in provinces, Catchment Management Agencies and municipalities
  • Set up mechanisms to support uptake of FEPA maps, especially by provincial conservation authorities and Catchment Management Agencies
  • Use FEPA maps in assessing EIA applications and making land-use decisions
  • Use FEPA maps in water resource development processes
  • Applications for mining and prospecting in FEPAs and associated sub-quaternary catchments should be subject to rigorous environmental and water assessment and authorisation processes
  • Pilot formal mechanisms for the management and protection of FEPAs
  • Revive the Mountain Catchment Areas Act
  • Review general authorisations of the National Water Act in relation to their impact on FEPAs
  • Strengthen and expand the scope of the River Health Programme to include wetlands and actively target FEPAs as new monitoring sites
Strengthen collaboration of DWS and DEA around managing and conserving freshwater ecosystems

Recommended priority actions:

  • Minimise impacts on priority ecosystems
  • Expand and strengthen the Marine Protected Area Network
  • Support the recovery of overexploited resources and threatened species
  • Prevent further introduction and spread of Alien and Invasive Species
  • Support good environmental practice and effective regulation of the emerging mariculture sector
  • Strengthen climate change resilience
  • Ensure sufficient freshwater flow
  • Strengthen Institutional Arrangements to facilitate integrated ecosystem-based management
Invest in the knowledge base to support biodiversity assessment and management

Contact us:

Bridget Corrigan - Programme manager email
Nic Armstrong - NRM Field Operations Officer Eastern Cape email
Grant Smith - Orange River Mouth Project Field Officer email
JP Le Roux - Marico Catchment Conservation Project Coordinator email
Nkosinathi Nama - Amathole Freshwater Species Project Coordinator email
Oscar Mohale - STS Programme Field & Research Assistant email