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Peatland conservation is not only vital to effective biodiversity conservation but also in mitigating climate change as peatlands are earth’s greatest natural carbon store among natural ecosystems. They are therefore cross cutting areas of natural and social interests where the real costs and benefits of peatland restoration often support local growth points for local economies or have strong impacts on them. While wetlands are globally regarded as one of the most important life support systems, they are in South Africa the most threatened ecosystem type with 62% classified as critically endangered and only 15% in near-natural ecological condition. The Working for Wetlands, a South African government programme, mandated with protection, promotion of wise-use, and rehabilitation of wetlands is often faced with the challenge of prioritising catchments and wetland systems due to financial resource constraints. The programme’s current planning system is based on catchment priorities that have potential for high biodiversity and functional value return, as well as potential for partnerships. Prioritising wetlands of high conservation value such as peatlands in a drier landscape must be weighed up against the restoration of more common drier wetland types. It is imperative therefore that peatland restoration projects must be based on clear formulation of objectives and costs-benefit analyses. This presentation focuses on the ecological and socioeconomic outcomes of a local community-based peatland restoration project compared to that of regional incentive from a national programme.
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019
Society for Ecological Restoration