The Keiskamma River Catchment in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, which rises from the Amatola escarpment, showcases the climatic vulnerability of many catchments on the Eastern Cape seaboard. The catchment is classified into three topographic zones namely the escarpment, plateau and coastal zones. Whereas the escarpment zone receives high rainfall and comprises protected mountain forest, the plateau zone comprises communal villages where land degradation in the form of severe soil erosion, vegetation invasions and diminution are serious environmental problems. The situation has been compounded by sizeable impoundments in the form of upstream irrigation dams, which have had a major impact on the natural functioning of the Keiskamma river (Rowntree and Dollar, 2008). The impact of the impoundments on hillslope hydrological processes, as well as riparian and adjacent hillslope vegetation remains unknown. The interaction between the river channel, riparian and adjacent hillslope vegetation in terms of important hydrologic and ecological functions is inextricable (Lee et al., 2008). It is necessary to investigate distressed hillslope hydrological processes and the coupling with inevitable land use change in order to establish the implications for climate vulnerability of the catchment. The findings could then be extrapolated to other catchments with similar vulnerability on the Eastern Cape seabord for purposes of devising appropriate adaptation strategies. The latter will be implemented analogously to the Pangani river study region with the selection of one or two subregions and the respective communities with which a participatory stakeholder involvement process will be conducted.


  • Rowntree, K. M., Dollar, E.S.J. (2008) Contemporary Channel Processes.
    In: Lewis, C.A. (editor) Geomorphology of the Eastern Cape: South Africa. Grahamstown: NISC South Africa.

Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 June 2011 16:27