Monday, March 14, 2011

Rising value of water rationale for restoring ecosystems

The scarcity of and rising value of water in South Africa supports the argument to view the restoration of ecosystems as an economically viable management option.

Here the abstract of a recent economic study on the Agulhas Plain as published by the Department of Economics, Stellenbosch University:

The Agulhas Plain is a low-lying coastal area within the Cape Floristic Region classified as one of the six plant kingdoms of the world. The area is heavily invaded by alien vegetation that infringes upon the sustainable supply of ecosystem goods and services provided by the native fynbos vegetation. Natural capital restoration is expected to recover the supply of ecosystem goods and services, and in particular to increase the amount of water available for consumption. The study conducts cost-benefit analyses to assess whether alien clearing and restoration would add value to the Agulhas Plain. The analyses indicate that the cost of alien clearing and restoration in the area cannot be justified if the additional water released holds no benefit to the Plain. A brief assessment shows that the actual average value of water on the Agulhas Plain, as estimated by other studies, is higher than the economic cost of making the water available through alien clearing and restoration. Thus this would make alien clearing and restoration economically justified.

The full paper can be downloaded here.