18 July 2018: Balancing water for farmers and ecosystems


The Cape Critical Rivers Project, funded through the Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, has been actively engaging landowners in the Kouebokkeveld on the precious water resources of the region.

Logging flows in a Kouwbokkeveld River (photo by Bruce Paxton)

The severe drought that has persisted in the Kouebokkeveld, and throughout the Western Cape Province of South Africa, over the past three years is unprecedented. Climate scientists have estimated that a drought of this nature would only be experienced on average once every three-hundred years, and perhaps as seldom as once in a thousand years!

Alwyn Lubbe (then EWT) surveys the river channel downstream of farms

Apart from the economic impact on the farmers, farm workers and the agricultural industry as a whole, this drought is having a devastating effect on the freshwater quantity and quality of the ecosystems downstream of the farms. Greater awareness around the value of water to downstream human communities and ecosystems, and more efficient water management practices, are essential if the effects of these devastating droughts – likely to increase under predicted climate change scenarios – are to be mitigated.

Dr Bruce Paxton engaging with farmers to seek solutions to water challenges in the Kouebokkeveld

Through this project, we are promoting better water awareness and governance among both commercial and emerging landowners and our emphasis on the importance of Environmental Flows is showing that more sustainable land and water management is critical for the long-term viability of farming in the region.

For more information contact project leader Dr Bruce Paxton

All images copyright  Dr Bruce Paxton and Save our Species