South Africa: Rejoice Mabudafhasi, Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, South Africa, released the Atlas of Freshwater Ecosystem Priority Areas. The Atlas contains maps for each of the 19 water management areas in South Africa. They can help to make informed choices and trade-offs based on a clear understanding of where South Africa’s valuable freshwater ecosystems are located. They also provide information on how to incorporate freshwater ecosystem goals into integrated planning and decision-making processes.
The maps have been available to planners and decision-makers through training and web-based tools on the SA National Biodiversity Institute’s Biodiversity, GIS website.
Mabudafhasi said, “Over half of South Africa’s river and wetlands ecosystems are threatened. Deterioration in the health of ecosystems negatively impacts on their ability to continue providing beneficial ecosystem services.”
According to Times Live report, the atlas provides the first comprehensive assessment of areas in the country that were most important for sustaining the health and continued functioning of freshwater ecosystems.
Mabudafhasi observed ecosystems, like municipal services, played an essential role in supporting development and economic prosperity. The ecological infrastructure, together with artificial infrastructure, generated jobs and eradicated poverty.