The Durban Metropolitan Open Space System, currently 94 000 hectares in extent, is a spatial layer of interconnecting open spaces in public, private and traditional authority ownership that seeks to protect the biodiversity and associated ecosystem services of Durban for future generations.
Examples of areas included in D’MOSS are nature reserves (e.g. Paradise Valley, Burman Bush and Kenneth Stainbank Reserve), large rural landscapes in the upper catchments and riverine and coastal corridors. D’MOSS is mapped by the Biodiversity Planning Branch of the Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department (EPCPD) in consultation with relevant experts.
From a natural resource perspective, D’MOSS includes approximately 2 400 ha of estuarine environment, including sand and mudbanks, mangrove and swamp forests; 14 000 ha of forests including dune, coastal and scarp forests; 7 500 ha of wetlands including floodplains, swamp forest and reedbeds; 13 000 ha of grassland including the threatened KZN Sandstone Sourveld Grasslands; and 40 000 ha of dry valley thicket.
D’MOSS thus provides a unique opportunity to conserve many of South Africa’s threatened ecosystems and species including: the endangered KZN Sandstone Sourveld grasslands; the critically endangered Brachystelma natalense (a small herbaceous plant); and the endangered Oribi, Spotted Ground Thrush, and Pickersgill’s Reed Frog. If protected and managed, D’MOSS will assist the province and the country in meeting biodiversity conservation targets.
Why is D’MOSS important?
Apart from contributing to the attainment of provincial and national biodiversity conservation targets, D’MOSS provides a range of services to all residents of Durban, including the formation of soil, erosion control, water supply and regulation, climate regulation, cultural and recreational opportunities, raw materials for craft and building, food production, pollination, nutrient cycling and waste treatment.
From a climate adaptation perspective, the biodiversity that is protected within D’MOSS plays an important role. The impacts of sea level rise, for example, can be reduced by ensuring the protection of well vegetated fore-dunes and setting coastal developments back from vulnerable areas. Increased flood events can be moderated by ensuring that wetlands and floodplains are protected and where necessary rehabilitated. Predicted increased temperatures can also be alleviated by D’MOSS as vegetated areas assist with cooling.
D’MOSS also plays a substantial role in climate change mitigation. Research undertaken in 2006 found that D’MOSS stores the equivalent of 24.7±0.6 million tons of carbon dioxide. In addition, it was conservatively calculated that it sequesters between 31 000 and 36 000 tons of carbon dioxide per annum. Wetlands and forest ecosystems store the most carbon, while disturbed woodlands and alien thickets store the least. These more degraded D’MOSS areas offer restoration opportunities using poverty alleviation projects, providing benefits to biodiversity, people and the climate. Read more about the restoration of habitats by clicking here.