Community perceptions of climate change and initiatives for the conservation of endemic plants in Limpopo Province, South Africa

Rankoana, Sejabaledi A.

Année de publication

This study was conducted to examine how climate change is perceived by a rural community in Limpopo Province, South Africa, and to investigate how such changes affect endemic plant species upon which community members depend for their livelihoods. The initiatives employed by community members to preserve endemic plants which have cultural value are also examined. The results of the study were obtained from semi-structured interviews with traditional health practitioners and other community members. It was found that participants' perceptions of the current state of climate change were linked to their observations of changes in temperature and rainfall patterns. Interviewees reported having experienced rising temperatures in the form of an increased frequency of excessively hot summers, as well as warmer winters. Rainfall was described as scarce, and rain episodes were characterised by more frequent thunderstorms. These observations have been confirmed in an independent analysis of meteorological observations by Ziervogel et al. (2014), who found that the mean annual temperature has increased by at least 1.5-fold over the past five decades, and that extreme rainfall events have increased in frequency. The consequences of these changes in temperature and rainfall are significant and mostly negative, including poor plant growth, the withering of immature plants and the total loss of some useful species. However, members of this rural community have adopted indigenous conservation practices to limit the risk of indigenous plant loss and to maintain their cultural usage. Conservation practices adopted in the study area include the observance of cultural taboos, as well as other traditional customs, which restrict the harvesting and collection of useful plant materials.</p>

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