SOUTH AFRICA, UMNGENI RIVER CATCHMENT

EXPERIENCES

This study tour shares experiences on sustainable freshwater management and business practices across forestry and agriculture sectors and their value chains.

The uMngeni river basin accounts for 15% of South Africa’s economic output, almost all of it dependent on fresh water, and supplies water to more than 4 million people. But the supply of fresh water can’t keep pace with rising demand. Like so many parts of the world, this is an area of growing water stress.

Forest plantations are one of the major land uses in the Umgeni catchment, and a major water user. Water scarcity is a business risk for the sector – and it’s also the sector’s responsibility to be part of the solution.

But plantations are only one part of the picture. Water is the ultimate shared resource, and finding sustainable solutions means bringing together everyone who has an impact on the river basin.

As well as visiting forest plantations, this study included visits to sugarcane plantations, dairy farms and water treatment works. NGP participants were joined by representatives from the sugar and dairy industries, retailers and manufacturers, banks and insurance companies, water companies and local authorities – all of whom, ultimately, depend on water security and resilient landscapes.

The tour was hosted by Mondi, WWF-South Africa and the WWF Mondi Wetlands Programme. In total, 42 people from 17 countries took part.


DIARY FROM A JOURNALIST

Barney Jeffries

South Africa study tour diary