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A FEWLB nexus approach in an economically dynamic region opens up opportunities for increasing resource productivity (among others, through appropriate ecosystems pricing), using waste as a resource in multi-use systems, benefiting from productive ecosystems, stimulating development through policy coherence and achieving greater inclusion in the economy.

The Berg River is a strategic focus for the Western Cape Government. For example, the Berg River Improvement Project, in the first stage of being implemented, will focus on reducing the negative impact from municipal urban areas, particularly informal settlements and wastewater treatment works; reducing the impact of agriculture and industry on the quality of the water in the river system, and improving the ecological integrity of the system. The intended outcome of the programme will be a Berg River where the value of its ecosystem services is recognised, the natural resource state of the river returns (as it relates to water quality and quantity), while promoting sustainable growth and development in a green economy.

Scenes along the Lower Berg River and Estuary. Source: Mark New


Similarly, the programme to develop Saldanha as a fully-fledged industrial zone is aligned to national priorities around industrial and infrastructure development. These industrial developments will bring with them significant demands on land, water and energy. It is these higher demands on the natural resource base that brings the industrial development work being undertaken in Saldanha directly into the Berg River sphere. The quality and quantity of water in the Berg River along its entire length is therefore critically important not only to the agricultural industry along the banks of the river, but also to the residential settlements and industrial users in the West Coast region.

Left: Coal train on its way to Saldanha. Source: www.
Right: Aerial view of Saldanha Bay showing the harbour and Langebaan Lagoon. Source:


Of additional concern is the projected strain climate change poses on water resources in the West Coast area.  In order to address this, the Western Cape Government has a Municipal Support Programme (MSP), through which they are assisting local municipalities to develop both Climate Adaptation Plans and Sustainable Energy Plans.  At present Bergrivier and Drakenstein Municipalities, two of the three municipalities along the Berg River, are developing Climate Adaptation Plans. Saldanha Municipality is also currently engaged in the MSP through the development of Sustainable Energy Plans.

Top left: Langebaan Lagoon. Source: Peter Cranstoun-Day.
Top right: Pelicans on the coast near Saldanha. Source:
Bottom left: Langebaan Lagoon panorama. Source: Craig Strachan;
Bottom right: Berg River estuary. Source: Mark New


These initiatives serve to illustrate the importance of a system-wide FEWLB nexus approach to economic development.  Existing activities within the Berg River region are already putting the system under stress, and significant investment in restoration is underway.  Yet in a separate sphere of government, a new economic development strategy is occurring without integrated consideration of the implications for regional resource stresses.  The FEWLB System analysis conducted in this study therefore provides a potentially critical framework for understanding resource requirements for regional economic development and clear quantification of resource availability, benefits of different resource uses, and the trade-offs that may be required to ensure green economic development.

Intensive fruit production under shade netting (left); fruit production is highly dependent on bee pollination (right). Source: Stephanie Midgley (left) and (right)