Coastal vulnerability to climate change in Eden District municipality, Western Cape province, South Africa

Resource System
Terrestrial (including coastal and riparian) landscapes; associated watersheds and topography
Resource Units
Urban/rural/agricultural spaces, freshwater, biodiversity

The local municipalities of Bitou, Knysna, George, Mossel Bay, and Hessequa are situated in the Garden Route along the south coast of South Africa in the Eden District municipality, Western Cape province. The study area encompasses human developments along the coastline that stretch from the mouth of the Bloukrans River in the east to the Breede Estuary (Witsand) in the west, and inland to the foot of the Cape Fold Mountains.  The Eden District action arena is characterized by (1) a poorly structured institutional framework that enables private development and individual mitigation action by (affluent) property owners which, through vulnerability transfer, effectively undermines coastal ecosystem functioning and the collective ability of the communities to ameliorate the adverse effects of global climate change; and (2) dual socio-economic structures which facilitate the privatization of public coastal areas by wealthy landowners, thus limiting community access to coastal resources.

This case study represents one of three coastal social-ecological systems (SESs) examined in collaboration with researchers in Britain, France, and South Africa as part of the Multi-Scale Adaptations to Climate Change and Social-Ecological Sustainability in Coastal Areas (MAGIC) research project funded by a Belmont grant. Information on the two other case studies, as well as the synthesis report of all three SESs, are located in the database as follows: Cornwall, Britain - case no. 297Languedoc-Roussillon, France - case no. 298, and the synthesis analysis of all three sites - case no. 310.