In South Africa, CSA (Conservation South Africa) collaborated with partners to conduct a vulnerability assessment of the Namakwa District Municipality (NDM) of the Northern Cape. The vulnerability assessment focused primarily on terrestrial ecosystems with an emphasis on freshwater systems and communal grazing lands. These systems are under threat from grazing pressure, mining, and the impacts of climate changeon average temperature and water availability.
The 126,747km2 district forms part of the semi-arid Succulent Karoo Biodiversity Hotspot, one of only two arid hotspots. The Succulent Karoo is home to the richest diversity of succulent flora on earth. It also demonstrates remarkable levels of endemism, with 69 percent plant endemism and high levels of reptile endemism. This rich biodiversity supports a population of around 130,000 people with an economic focus on livestock production using natural grazing methods.
The vulnerability assessment identified the main climate change impacts that will be felt in Namakwa District Municipality, as well as the consequences of those impacts and the recommendations for adaptation:
Climate change impacts
- Changes in temperature: average annual temperatures are predicted to increase by 2050, when compared to the current conditions.
- Changes in rainfall patterns: There is greater uncertainty around changes in rainfall patterns. The best case scenario indicates small increases in rainfall in certain areas. The intermediate and worst case scenarios predict a reduction in rainfall across the NDM. The most dramatic reductions occur in present-day higher rainfall areas.
- Coastal fog: Fog is a poorly understood feature of the Southern African climate. It has also been poorly monitored apart from recording the number of fog days at a handful of coastal sites. How far fog penetrates inland, and how frequently, is unknown. Climate models for future scenario development have not yet included fog patterns. Furthermore, there are few studies of fog as a water input supporting biological activity and evidence for fog use by plants is very limited.
Consequences of those impacts
- Areas with a climate envelope characteristic of Succulent Karoo largely persist under all scenarios. The climate envelope found in the Nama-Karoo area of the NDM is likely to remain stable under the best case and intermediate scenarios, but changes to a Desert climate envelope in the north under the worst case scenario.
- Under the best case scenario, the core portions of the Fynbos, typically located in the mountainous areas, remain within the current biome envelope. The islands of Fynbos found in the NDM are likely to come under increasing stress in higher risk scenarios, with the climate envelopes in these areas becoming more like Succulent Karoo.
- Areas with a climate similar to the current Desert biome are likely to expand in the future, particularly into the summer rainfall, Nama Karoo regions.
Recommendations for adaptation
- Manage and restore wetlands and river corridors effectively for biological diversity, the provision of potable water, fodder for grazing animals, and the prevention of soil erosion
- Protect groundwater resources and restore wetlands and terrestrial vegetation cover to secure groundwater recharge
- Conserve water catchments and other critical biodiversity areas for key ecosystems services delivery and to build resilience to climate change
- Monitor species and ecosystem responses to a changing climate
- Locate adaptation to climate change within the broader developmental context
- Inform about the basis that the NDM's biodiversity provides for economic growth and development
- Build local capacity to respond to climate change
- Create a strong adaptation committee in local government
- Integrate identified EbA priority areas into existing related programmes across all levels of government
- Demonstrate the contribution of EbA approaches to job creation and economic growth
- Collaborate closely with partners to avoid duplication and share information
- Strengthen the capacity of local institutions to implement EbA
DOWNLOAD: Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment for the Namakwa District Municipality