Sustainability challenges for informal plantations in lsimangaliso Wetlands Park : impacts and perceptions
Certain forest activities in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park have made a significant contribution to the economy; forest products range from natural forest products to commercial forest products derived from forests ranging from timber to non-timber forests products. The local communities of iSimangaliso Wetland Park practise informal afforestation (Eucalyptus, Wattle and Pine). All these informal activities are progressively contributing, not only to the gradual deterioration of the status of the water resources, but also to spoiling the ecosystem between living organisms and non-living organisms around the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. These occurrences are impacting adversely on the aesthetic appeal of the Park. What is implicit is that the rate at which informal afforestation is taking place at the Wetland Park will increase which will reduce the water availability in the river catchments and in turn affect the employment rate within the local communities. Pursuant to these observations and problems, the researcher found it appealing and necessary to explore the informal afforestation and its reduction caused by afforestation in the catchment. In an attempt to address the research question or problem, the following research objectives were set up: • To assess how local communities in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park perceive the practice of informal afforestation; • To assess the reduction of water resources caused by the informal afforestation (Eucalyptus, Pine and Wattle) in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park in order to project future use of water resources; and • To project the future status of water resources in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. The research methodology applied to achieve the objectives of the research study involved collecting information from the local communities of iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Data were collected by means of sets of questionnaires. The data collected was analysed using the Statistical Package for the Social Science (SPSS) computer statistical package and spread sheets, which led to obtaining the research findings. Various findings that emerged and were deduced from the research data analysed. The findings indicated that too much informal afforestation is practised by the local communities in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. The findings further indicated that, among the respondents from the study area of the Park, a limited number of them had received tertiary education. It is believed that the lack of tertiary education had influenced the availability of skills, which resulted in a large number of people participating in practising informal activities that would pose negative to water resources. The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) needs to improve awareness about the negative impacts about the practised of informal afforestation in water resources. The delayed of the issuance of Water Use Licences(WUL) by the Department of Water and Sanitation will cause the local communities of iSimangaliso Wetland Park to practised informal afforestation. Finally, the local communities indicated that if the government come up with alternative crops to plant and markets to sell, they can remove all the informal afforestation and to plant that crops.