Will the real custodian of natural resource management please stand up

Shackleton, C.M. (2009) Will the real custodian of natural resource management please stand up. South African Journal of Science, 105 (3/4). pp. 91-93. ISSN 0038-2353




South Africa is the custodian of an immense wealth of biodiversity resources, and is estimated to be the third most biodiverse country in the world. At the ecosystem level this biodiversity supports the production of goods and services used by us all; water, air, soil fertility, wood, food, etc. At a more local level the harvesting of numerous natural resources provides consumptive products for millions of poor South Africans, as well as income for equally significant numbers.Consumption of and trade in these resources is the very mainstay of their well-being, and crucial in preventing deeper poverty levels. For example, despite massive improvements in the provision of electricity, most rural and a significant proportion of urban South Africans continue to use fuelwood as a key energy source for cooking (e.g. 65% of electrified households in the urban areas of Makana municipality, and 92% of households in the rural areas of Bushbuckridge); approximately 75% of the population use medicinal plants for medicinal or cultural reasons; and millions of urban and rural households make use of wild edible herbs. With such high demand for these resources, it is not unsurprising that there are large and established trade networks spanning local, regional, national and, for some resources (e.g. specific medicinal plants, mopane worms), international boundaries. The total value of this trade is unknown, and unrecorded in local or national economic or GDP statistics. It certainly equates to billions of rands per year. The direct-use and trade values are substantial and provide a cost saving to the State. Where biodiversity resources are overused or exhausted, people have to purchase alternatives, which reduces their scarce cash resources, thereby increasing their likely dependency on State welfare grants.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Commentary
Uncontrolled Keywords:South Africa; natural resources; management; use; conservation; monitoring; regulation; biodiversity; sustainable use; environment; protection; indigenous forests; harvesting; indigenous resources;
Subjects:Y Unknown > Subjects to be assigned
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Science > Environmental Science
ID Code:1432
Deposited By: Mrs Eileen Shepherd
Deposited On:07 Aug 2009
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:20
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