Ecosystem restoration, sustainable development and the provision of green jobs are key factors in achieving community ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change. As such the eThekwini Municipality’s Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department or EPCPD, initiated a programme in late 2006. The programme is commonly known as ‘Working for Ecosystems’ or WFE.

The philosophy behind the ‘Working for Ecosystems’ concept is to build a holistic and positive interaction between local communities and the environment. Training and employment opportunities are created and these aid in the management of environmentally important areas, which contributes to how well those communities can become more self-sustaining and more adapted to natural disasters as may occur due to climate change.


Current Status of Project

WESSA, a Non-Government Organisation (NGO), is the current implementing agent for the ‘Working for Ecosystems’ programme. WESSA’s business plan was prepared in consultation with the EPCPD and relevant stakeholders including the community. The EPCPD has prioritised project areas for environmental management. This was based on the value of local biodiversity and ecosystem services. The necessary training and employment of people in the relevant communities is then implemented through the ‘Working for Ecosystems’ programme. Invasive alien plants (IAPs) are considered one of the biggest threats to biodiversity and the supply of free ecosystem services within the Municipal Area. Ecosystem services are critically important not only for human livelihoods but also for societal adaptation to climate change.
Addressing threats to these services save money and ensure improved service delivery to local people. Controlling IAPs does not only ensure improved water flow and reduced soil erosion: the direct benefits to local people, livestock and biodiversity are significant. The project, which is fully funded by eThekwini Municipality, currently employs 251 people to work in the Ringwood, Ntshongweni, Paradise Valley Nature Reserve, Drummond, Hulett’s Bush, Ngonweni, iLanda Wilds, St. Gabriel Ave and Roosefontein Nature Reserve areas. In the 2017/2018 financial year, 24.4 hectares of initial and 1100.0 hectares of follow-up control of invasive alien plants has already taken place. This was achieved through 11485 Person Days of work. The programme has recently expanded onto Oakford Trust land (101.9ha), just outside the Buffelsdraai Landfill Site, Paradise Valley Nature Reserve (10ha), iLanda Wilds (24.7ha) as well as St Gabriel Ave (6.5ha).
Over and above the normal IAP clearing in the specific project areas, WFE also plays a key role in the identification and clearing of emerging weeds, such as Pompom weed (Campuloclinium macrocephalum) and Formosa Lilly (Lilium formosanum).
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Fig.1: WFE EDRR Team members deployed to control emerging species such as Formosa Lilly (right) and Pompom weed (left). Whilst the WFE Programme has specific cores sites, EDRR operations are carried out anywhere with the Municipality.

The WFE programme has a strong sustainable development focus and, together with WESSA and the Small Enterprise Development Association (SEDA), aims to equip teams with business skills required for registration and operation as cooperatives in the above-mentioned communities. This includes assistance with registration on the city’s procurement database which is essential if co-ops are tendering for other work offered by the municipality. Through this mechanism, a SMME businesses have been formed and are operational within the Programme (see Table 1, below).

Table 1: List of SMME companies sub-contracted within the Working for Ecosystems Programme.

​Company Names Services Provided ​BEE Information Area Contracted to
​Umhlakuva Enterprises ​IAP Control ​Black Owned ​Ntshongweni
​Thinking iMvelo Pty Ltd ​IAP Control ​Black Owned ​Paradise Valley Nature
Reserve / EDRR / Ntshongweni
​Umoyomuhle Environmental Services ​IAP Control ​Black Owned ​Huletts Bush / Roosefontein
Nature Reserve
​Vikelimvelo Environmental Services ​IAP Control ​Black Owned ​Paradise Valley Nature Reserve
​Mthini Environmental Projects ​IAP Control ​Black Owned ​Ngonweni
​Msenge Cleaning Services ​IAP Control ​Black Owned ​Drummond ERF2 / Ringwood
​Lihlithemba Multi Services ​IAP Control ​Black Owned ​Ngonweni
​KBT Creation & Construction ​IAP Control ​Black Owned ​Roosefontein Nature Reserve
​Indabengapheli Trading ​IAP Control ​Black Owned ​Ntshongweni / EDRR
​Sindy Holdings ​IAP Control ​Black Owned ​Hulett’s Bush/Roosefontein Nature Reserve
​Taumbe Nzimande Environmental Services ​IAP Control ​Black Owned ​Roosefontein Nature Reserve
​Sbani Sethu Environmental Services ​IAP Control ​Black Owned ​San Gabriel Ave / Ilanda Wilds / Roosefontein Nature Reserve
​Sibonelo Environmental Services ​IAP Control ​Black Owned ​Redcliffe
​Inhlaba Soil Solutions Pty Ltd ​IAP Control ​Black Owned ​Oakford Trust farm property
​Umnisi Wemvula Pty Ltd ​IAP Control ​Black Owned ​Roosefontein Nature Reserve
​Skheshe Environmental Services ​IAP Control ​Black Owned ​Ntshongweni
​Syanqoba Environmental Services ​IAP Control ​Black Owned ​Roosefontein Nature Reserve

The WFE Programme has worked in close partnership with the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), on the management of several wetland sites within eThekwini Municipality. The EWT project is aimed at controlling invasive alien plants on wetland systems, for the conservation of the Pickersgill’s Reed Frog (Hyperolius pickersgilli). 


Fig.2: Site meeting between Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) and Working for Ecosystems (WFE ) staff as well as representatives of the Environmental Planning & Climate Protection Department (EPCPD).

Future Activities
The current funding is limited to the control of invasive alien plants, but the Environmental Planning & Climate Protection Department has maintained its focus on including community awareness initiatives, training of tour guides, waste collection, research and the establishment of indigenous nurseries.