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PRESENCE Learning Network

Project Overview

PRESENCE stands for: Participatory Restoration of Ecosystem SErvices & Natural Capital, Eastern Cape.

Vision: Restoration of Living Landscapes. ‘Mainstreaming’ restoration as a viable multi-functional land-use across diverse sectors of society.

PRESENCE is a multi-stakeholder learning network active in forming mutually beneficial and synergistic partnerships for enabling socio-ecological restoration in South Africa. It is presently securing additional investment and collaboration to ensure that its ambitious vision of ‘guiding the restoration of living landscapes’ remains achievable into the foreseeable future. National and international partners include: governmental departments; universities & research institutes; implementation agencies; NGOs; private consultancies and community-based organisations.

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005) highlighted the fact that the transformation of ecosystems through human activity not only compromises biodiversity and ecological integrity, but ultimately affects the well-being of people who directly and indirectly depend on the benefits derived from socio-ecological systems (i.e. ecosystem services). The implications of such a scenario are clearly apparent in South Africa where impaired ecosystem functioning is eroding natural capital and the prospect of achieving sustainable livelihoods and regional socio-economic prosperity over the long-term.

In response, the South African Government and institutional partners are developing national programmes – such as Working for Water/Wetlands – to investigate options for restoring the region’s valuable and globally significant biomes and landscapes to meet both socio-economic needs and ecological objectives. The Netherlands (through the formerly LNV and OS) has joined this response by investing in various projects in the field of sustainable food production and research and implementation of water for food and ecosystem.

However, to achieve these ambitious aims, additional (research/institutional/community) capacity is required in order to improve best management practice across various scales. Practical knowledge of the complex dynamics of restoration coupled with effective dissemination of new insights and adaptive learning is a further step in the right direction. Participatory approaches which seek to engage, raise awareness, educate and change behaviour are vital in facilitating a clearer understanding of the resilience socio-ecological systems and how livelihoods depend on natural capital. PRESENCE embraces this learning process with the vision to provide a dynamic platform for securing ‘living landscapes’* for all.

*A ‘living landscape’ has a variety of healthy eco-systems and land-uses and is home to ecological, agricultural and social systems which are managed so that they function sustainably. This ensures that natural and cultural resources are available for future generations. We believe that living landscape will contribute to adaptation and mitigation of climate change, to food and water security and sustainable livelihoods.

PRESENCE stands for: Participatory Restoration of Ecosystem SErvices & Natural Capital, Eastern Cape. PRESENCE is a multi-stakeholder learning network active in forming mutually beneficial and synergistic partnerships for enabling socio-ecological restoration in South Africa. The various national and international partners include: governmental departments, universities and research institutes, implementation agencies, NGOs, private consultancies, and community-based organisations. Over the last few years, four workshops where held to share and communicate the lessons learned, information and knowledge gathered, and to build partnerships. Some great experts were present at the workshops such as Christo Marais, Dolf de Groot, Richard Cowling, James Aronson, John D Lui, Belinda Reyers, James Blignaut, Mike Powell, and Karen Esler.

Project Details

Duration:
2007 – Ongoing

Website:
livinglandscapes.co.za

PRESENCE Research
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