Measuring and Modelling the Impacts of Environmental Change on Water Resources

Rehabilitation of Alien Vegetation Invaded Areas using Indigenous Vegetation

There is an increasing trend towards the promotion of indigenous trees with economic value that can be used to restore riparian forests. In this research, the water-use will be measured for various indigenous and introduced species that have been identified as economically viable. Restoration and rehabilitation approaches will be evaluated and compared at sites with varying degrees of degradation. Results from this study may facilitate the more realistic modelling of possible forest management approaches and may provide guidelines towards suitable indigenous alternatives. Currently, tree water-use & growth, forest expansion, climatic data and groundwater measurements are being undertaken at Buffeljagsrivier in the Western Cape and at New Forest in the upper uMgeni area of KwaZulu-Natal. We are also looking at techniques for upscaling tree water-use measurements and improving hydrological modelling of riparian areas.

Rainwater Harvesting

Exploring the potential for the expansion of water harvesting activities for both domestic and agricultural purposes in sub-Saharan Africa. This includes assessing the physical potential for expansion within selected research catchments, exploring the potential upstream and downstream impacts of water harvesting and exploring the cultural, policy and social drivers and implications of water harvesting.

Application of Remote Sensing for Water Use Management

This research aims at increasing the water use efficiency of vineyards, fruit orchards and grain production to promote sustainable optimal resource utilization, reducing input costs (e.g. fertilizers) and protecting the environment. The remotely sensed images are used together with total evaporation models to provide farmers involved with free online access to weekly updated semi-real-time information on their production, irrigation water demands and crop nitrogen status.
  • Understanding  land-water interactions
  • Modelling and forecasting impacts of climate change
  • Payment for Ecosystem Services
CWRR provides a unique contribution through its hydrological modelling experience and on-going field studies. This includes soil erosion studies and carbon sequestration of various landscapes and soils.

New Strategies for Adaptive Management in Water Resources

Each river catchment presents a different set of challenges and is unique in its own rights. This is true for the biophysical, social as well as economic dimension. Water management faces increasing levels of complexity as they try to consider issue surrounding global change. Adaptation is a local scale issue, and there is clear recognition that fine scale information, both biophysical and socio-economic, is required for local decision making. Such fine scale information does not necessarily exist, is incorrect or obsolete. So in order not only to create information, but also to make sense of research findings and policy issues, and finally prioritise actions in a transparent way, participatory tools should be used.