Water and financial flows to guide investment in catchment protection and restoration

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Graham Jewitt

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This paper forms part of a workshop focussed on sharing findings from the uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership. Through this initiative, a range of catchment stakeholders have committed to investment in restoring, maintaining, and managing the natural landscape to deliver water supply services and other benefits such as job creation, improved agricultural productivity, securing cultural benefits, reduced flood damage, and increased adaptive capacity to climate change. This component seeks to identify sites in the uMngeni catchment where investment can provide long-term and sustainable returns. In essence, “what to do and where to do it” in the catchment to provide optimal benefits. This seemingly simple question encompasses complexity in time, space, and in the connections between different biophysical, social, political, economic, and governance actors as well as uncertainty regarding the most appropriate way of estimating return on investment. Based on an analysis of 10 years of water supply data, we present and test methodologies to consider the returns on investment using the cost to provide 1m³ of water from restoration activities as a basis. Drawing on analysis of ten years of water and financial flow data supply in the catchment, we consider appropriate discount rates and ROI methods and compare these to the volumes provided and costs associated with traditional forms of infrastructure investment. The methodology adopted, results obtained, and recommendations provided are particularly appropriate for rapidly developing landscapes but are also applicable in a wide range of other restoration studies.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

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Society for Ecological Restoration