The South African Government's Natural Resource Management (NRM) programs (Working for Water, Working for Wetlands, Working for Woodlands, Working for Land, and Working on Fire) represent the single largest investment in ecosystem rehabilitation and protection on the African continent. With a collective annual investment of more than ZAR 1,500 million (US $181 million), these programs are a vital cornerstone of national efforts to restore and protect biodiversity and ecosystem services, while in the process creating employment for more than 20,000 people from marginalized and vulnerable groups. The NRM programs operate largely independently of one another, have evolved in an ad-hoc manner and are primarily funded from poverty relief or public works budgets. Hence, although the programs are principally focused on achieving ecological or conservation goals, the means through which these goals are pursued (i.e. large-scale employment creation, training, poverty reduction) has frequently resulted in trade-offs and a dilution of focus. In turn, this has resulted in sub-optimal outcomes, both social and ecological, suggesting that return on investment can be improved through the integration of objectives, planning and prioritization. This grant engages policy experts to study and advise on ways of improving the conservation effectiveness of these publicly funded labor-intensive programs.
Strategic Direction:3 Maintain and restore ecosystem function and integrity in the Highland Grasslands and Pondoland corridors