Value chain analysis in the proposed Witsieshoek community conservation area (WCCA) in the Eastern Free State of South Africa
Zondo, Solomon Andries
MetadataShow full item record
The aim of this study is to analyze the value chains in the proposed Witsieshoek Community Conservation Area (WCCA) situated in the eastern part of the Free State Province of South Africa. The study assesses the state and attributes of the biophysical environment and their contribution to value chain systems in the area. The study evaluates the natural resources found in the environment, encompassing both the villages in the Witsieshoek Area and the proposed WCCA. In addition, the study identifies the benefits that are generated from these resources to rural livelihoods. The study also reflects on previous economic and environmental studies undertaken elsewhere in mountain environments. It focuses on the human-environment interactions and the resultant impacts on ecosystems and rural livelihoods. Accordingly, the study is guided by the Pressure-State-Response (P-S-R) model, which illustrates material flows from the natural resource base to the consumers and the impacts resulting from these flows. Its significance lies in the need to address the high poverty levels characterizing the Witsieshoek Area, with the view of finding sustainable ways of protecting the rich biodiversity found in this mountainous region. The natural resource base was analyzed through the collection of empirical data that provided information on the state of the environment and its attributes. This was complemented by qualitative data that were collected from local communities through a questionnaire survey. Additional socioeconomic and environmental data were also collected from other role players such developers and government officials involved in conservation through unstructured interviews. The findings of this study illustrate the strong link between the value chain systems and the biophysical environment in the area. However, the monetary value allocated to the natural resources increases with geographic distance from the resource base, yet the problems associated with the degradation of the resource base (resulting from resource exploitation) are only borne by the local communities. The study demonstrates that the sustainability of value chains that sustain rural communities depends on the state of the biophysical environment and vice versa. In conclusion, the study highlights the importance of natural resources in value chains and biodiversity conservation as a basis for sustainable development. It further demonstrates the need for further extensive investigation on how the natural environment to be improved in order to stabilize the value chain systems in community conservation areas.