Integrating biodiversity concepts with good governance to support water resources management in South Africa

  • PJ Ashton CSIR-Environmentek, PO Box 395, Pretoria 0001, South Africa
  • MJ Patrick CSIR-Environmentek, PO Box 17001, Congella 4013, South Africa
  • HM MacKay Water Research Commission, Private Bag X03, Gezina 0031, South Africa
  • AvB Weaver CSIR-Environmentek, PO Box 320, Stellenbosch 7999, South Africa


Despite recent reforms in its water sector policies and legislation, South Africa's water governance system remains somewhat fragmented because of the need for separate management approaches to address different environmental components of the hydrological cycle. With the responsibility for different components of the hydrological cycle spread amongst several government agencies at different levels of government, integrated management of water across the hydrological cycle will require improved co-operative governance. Examination of existing governance systems and current understandings of biodiversity provides evidence to suggest that a far closer alignment between a particular governance system and the biophysical components and ecological processes comprising a specific environmental system that supports society could significantly enhance our systems of environmental governance. In turn, this would offer society the chance to design water resource management systems that better anticipate, reflect and respond to changes in environmental components and processes within the hydrological cycle. In future, greater emphasis will need to be placed on increased levels of co-operation between relevant governance systems related to water, as well as increased trans-disciplinary research that can better define the links between environmental governance systems and ecological systems.

Keywords: biodiversity, governance, ecosystem, integrated water resource management (IWRM), hydrological cycle, policy

Water SA Vol. 31(4) 2005: 449-456

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0378-4738