Assessing ecosystem services in the Fafung community of the North West Province, South Africa
Choma, Elvis Kgotjane
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Fafung is a deep rural community in South Africa’s North West Province that borders on the Borakalalo Nature Reserve. As with many communities of its kind, Fafung faces several needs and challenges such as unemployment, fragmented family structures and inadequate access to healthcare, education, food, housing and energy. Seeing that many of these can potentially be addressed by provisioning, regulating, cultural and supporting ecosystem services, this study set out to establish which of these are currently available to the community and the degree to which they are used, enjoyed and valued. Non-participant observations aided by spatial mapping revealed that 32 ecosystem services are readily available to the Fafung community but may be under threat mostly as a result of land degradation and the impacts of climate change. Given the value residents attach to these ecosystem services, albeit subconscious at times, it is anticipated that this study’s findings and recommendations will, in future, encourage stakeholders to consider best ecosystem management practices when formulating policies and taking decisions that will impact the well-being of the Fafung community. Furthermore, involving Fafung residents in maintaining and restoring ecosystems can contribute towards attaining the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and help to counter health shocks the likes of Covid-19.