The Umzimvubu Catchment Partnership Programme aims to conserve the full extent of the Umzimvubu River system (from source to sea) through the sustainable restoration and maintenance of the catchment area in a manner that supports economic development and job creation for local people and enhances flow of benefits from ecosystem goods and services to people and nature.
The Umzimvubu catchment and river system lies along the northern boundary of the Eastern Cape and extends for over 200km from its source in the rugged Maloti‐Drakensberg watershed on the Lesotho escarpment to its estuary at Port St Johns where it joins the Indian Ocean. The proposed focus area covers more than 2 million hectares in the Eastern Cape and is comprised of almost 70% communal land. The Umzimvubu River System has been prioritized nationally as being one of the few remaining “near‐natural rivers” but is classified as vulnerable as a result of rapid rates of degradation in the watershed. In addition to the freshwater system, the adjacent matrix of grassland, forest, thicket, and dune vegetation are some of the most bio-diverse in the world, with four distinct key biodiversity areas (KBAs) falling within the watershed corridor. These habitats support numerous species of plants and animals and provide a range of ecosystem services that support poverty alleviation in the largely rural and peri‐urban settlements with water provision, erosion control, infrastructure protection, fodder for livestock and food security, and materials for household and community use. When intact, they also provide an important carbon sequestration function.
The UCPP partner, by signing this MOU, are committing to collective action to develop and implement a catchment management strategy and restoration plan for the Umzimvubu River corridor. Implementation will commence with strong stakeholder collaboration and demonstration projects in the Upper Catchment, the source of the Umzimvubu, aimed at the expansion and implementation of principles and techniques to the wider catchment over the next two decades. The UCPP partners will work together to deliver multiple short and long-term benefits in line with the presidential priorities of integrated rural development, job creation, appropriate pro-poor infrastructure development and service delivery. A strong component of the programme will be centered on working with partners and government authorities present within the catchment. A strong component of the programme will be centered on working with partners and government authorities present within the catchment. As such, the UCPP partners will promote an action-learning and systems approach, aimed at restoring and protecting catchment integrity and stability, improving livelihoods and resilience of ecosystems and economies, through sound institutional co-operation. Finally, a key focus of the partnership will be to build on the Expanded Public Works Programmes and foster good stewardship and sustainable small enterprises which can support the restoration and maintenance of intact ecosystem services.