Greater uMngeni River Catchment, South Africa

Challenges · Biodiversity · Climate Change · Landscape Restoration · Resilience · Water

Landscape Profile

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Greater uMngeni River Catchment, South Africa

Approximate size (hectares)



5 million


Subtropical Highland

Production Systems

Dairy, Forestry, Livestock, Potato, Sugarcane


The WWF-Mondi Wetlands Programme (WWF-MWP) operates throughout South Africa. Work in the Upper Umgeni, Upper Umvoti, and Groot Brak catchments began in 2014 as a part of the initiative’s Resilient Landscape Approach. In this diverse matrix of land uses, local community livelihood activities include forestry, sugarcane and potato production, dairy farming, pork and poultry production, and other agricultural activities. Industry and manufacturing are other sources of livelihoods in the region, which produces an estimated 20% of South Africa’s GNP.

Freshwater resources, especially wetlands, which host a diverse range of plants and wildlife, are under pressure even as water demand is expected to rise 50% in South Africa over the next 30 years. Water stewardship among these diverse agricultural, forestry, and environmental land uses and stakeholders is a critical goal. Surrounding grasslands and savannahs contain giraffes, zebras, antelope, and other wildlife.

Voices From The Field

Well-designed and well-managed plantations that take into account protected areas, high conservation value areas and ecological networks can maintain biodiversity at the landscape level and contribute to sustained economic growth as well as social and environmental benefits.

Peter Gardiner Natural Resources Delegate, Mondi Group

Major Successes


Aligning Policy for Wetland Stewardship

The WWF-Mondi Wetland Programme has effectively engaged government partners to support a national wetlands delineation policy to identify and restore critical wetlands. WWF-MWP’s work has also helped spur a national program, Working for Wetlands, that provided employment opportunities for local communities to restore these critical ecosystem services.


Enhancing Landscape Resilience

Over the next 3-5 years, WWF-SA and Mondi will implement the Resilient Landscape Approach (RLA), which emphasizes resilience thinking, creating shared value, and social learning, in the Greater uMngeni River Catchment. RLA connects partners from the forestry, sugar, and dairy industries and their value chains, from manufacturers and retailers to banks and insurance companies as well as water companies, local government, and local communities.

Working Together

WWF-SA and Mondi have worked together to engage the forestry, agricultural, and livestock sectors as well as government regulatory agencies and municipalities, agribusiness supply chain companies, civil society groups, financial and insurance institutions, and water companies to improve water stewardship and reduce scarcity by reversing the loss of wetlands and riparian areas through improved land use planning and management. United around this common goal, the partnership has engaged in wetland delineation and assessment and promoted social learning to advance the project.

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