South Africa: Protecting Ecosystems Benefits Humanity

A Golden wreath wattle (Acacia sailgna), Australian flora considered alien vegetation in South Africa (file photo).

This decade will see concerted efforts to protect and revive ecosystems around the world for the benefit of humankind and nature, says Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Barbara Creecy.

Addressing the 2021 World Environment Day at the Pretoria National Botanical Gardens on Saturday, the Minister said the restoration of ecosystems means making efforts to recover degraded or destroyed ecosystems, including conserving the remaining ecosystems for the continued delivery of valuable services to the people.

World Environment Day was celebrated under the theme of 'Ecosystems Restoration'.

South Africa marked World Environment Day in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), as well as the 25-year cooperation of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Government has invested more than R26 billion since the inception of the Working for Water programme in 1995 to restore and maintain natural landscapes.

"In the process, more than 3.6 million hectares of land were cleared of invasive alien plants and given an average of around three follow-up treatments.

"For the 2021/22 financial year, 66 432 work opportunities will be created, which will benefit 60% women, 55% youth and 2% people with disabilities," the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment said.

Over the past 25 years, the department and the United UNDP have worked on several projects collaboratively in areas of biodiversity, climate change and international waters, land degradation, particularly in collaboration with the Global Environmental Facility (the GEF).

"The Global Environment Facility 6th funding cycle has further awarded the country an additional USD6.2 million to implement bioprospecting/biotrade projects, which span across the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Northern Cape and Mpumalanga provinces.

"The project is currently in its implementation phase, and will enhance local and sustainable beneficiation of the African ginger, Aloe ferox, Rooibos, Honeybush, and Pelagonium sidoides value chains in the above mentioned provinces," the department said.

This particular programme is co-financed by the infrastructure development leg of the department, which would extend this programme's impact to Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal provinces.

"The department has led South Africa to having the most comprehensive GEF portfolio in Africa, and among the top globally.

"It is through such collaboration and solidarity that developing countries can adequately equip themselves to combat climate change," the department said.

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