Natural Capital Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services - South Africa
Mainstreaming biodiversity and ecosystems into policy through natural capital accounts
Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) and the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) are co-leading the national implementation of the European Union-funded project Natural Capital Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services (NCAVES) in South Africa, in collaboration with the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) and other national and sub-national stakeholders to further develop ecosystem accounts for South Africa.
Project activities and results
The activities and related outputs of the project in South Africa include:
Compilation of ecosystem accounts.
The project will compile and explore linkages of these accounts to national economic and demographic data, to show how and where people most depend, and impact, on nature.:
- Species accounts for rhinoceros and cycads.
Species that are of conservation concern, charismatic, iconic or endemic may hold value to people around the world, beyond that which is captured in other accounts. Recognising this, species accounts may be particularly useful in informing policy makers of trends in these groups of species. In consultation with relevant stakeholders in South Africa, two groups were chosen to be used to trial species accounts in South Africa for fauna and flora, respectively: rhinoceroses and cycads. These were narrowed down on the basis of conservation importance and data availability.
Experimental Ecosystem Services Accounts at sub-national level.
The compilation of a comprehensive suite of experimental ecosystem services accounts in physical and monetary terms for the province of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa has been published as a pilot study entitled “Towards a method for accounting for ecosystem services and asset value: Pilot accounts for KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, 2005-2011”. These accounts will be used to produce scenario analyses.
NCA National Strategy
In addition, a ten-year strategy for advancing Natural Capital Accounting in South Africa has being developed in consultation with stakeholders on the basis of an assessment of activities and initiatives related to environmental-economic accounting The purpose of the strategy is to respond to the need to focus the efforts of Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) and other institutions engaged in NCA on developing priority natural capital accounts and effective statistical systems and institutional mechanisms to inform South Africa’s sustainable development policy objectives. The strategy can be found here.
The SEEA in South Africa
South Africa has years of experience with natural capital accounting. Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) first developed environmental economic accounts for water in 2000 and subsequently have compiled additional accounts for energy, minerals, and fisheries.
Under the project Advancing Natural Capital Accounting (ANCA), from 2014 to 2016, South Africa has also piloted accounts for river ecosystems using the SEEA framework. A key finding from the river accounts is that the ecological condition of South Africa’s rivers declined by 10% from 1999 to 2011. This information has helped inform the National Water and Sanitation Master Plan, developed by the Department of Water and Sanitation, which highlights the importance of maintaining the integrity of freshwater ecosystems as part of the water value chain. The accounts also have identified the areas where the decline in river health has been most pronounced so that solutions can be identified and targeted to better manage catchments and rivers to support economic and social development.