DID YOU KNOW?
A rich source area, the Southern Drakensberg hosts three of the highest mountains in South Africa. The latest Ramsar site, the uMngeni Vlei can also be found here, while the country's longest free-flowing river, the Mkomazi, starts at this source.
The Southern Drakensberg loses 2.3% of its water to invasive alien trees and while this sounds small, it amounts to a massive 87 billion litres of water per year
Free flowing rivers
Interbasin transfer systems
Supplies water to
Unsustainable land use practices pose a major threat to ecosystems and the livelihood of local communities. It damages flood plains, river banks and wetlands, reducing the regulating capacity of catchments and increasing erosion and sediment loads. This raises the risk of flooding.
Large Scale Plantations
Plantations are mono-cultures made up of the same alien tree species (pine, eucalyptus and wattle) that cause massive environmental damage across the country. These trees are grown to provide wood for construction and raw materials for the paper and pulp industry but they consume huge volumes of water while they grow. Badly managed plantations allow these species to escape and grow wild, making them a source of invasive alien trees. Poor forestry practices lead to the clearing of natural forests and the destruction of wetlands which have negative social and environmental consequences.
Fracking is a technique used to exploit underground shale gas deposits which involves drilling and the injection of fluids at immense pressure into gas-bearing rocks. The technique has received substantial attention for its potential application in the Karoo but few realise that large areas of the rest of the country show potential of holding significant deposits of gas, petroleum and other fossil fuels. Large parts of the Southern Drakensberg fall into this area and licences are being granted to prospect for shale gas. Fracking pose a substantial risk of polluting ground and surface water, particularly when boreholes leak or fail. These impacts could be catastrophic to downstream water users.
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