[Trophic Cascade]: an ecological research, education and information community centre in the Amazizi Tribal Authority of the Drakenburg

Marchant, Craig Galen
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The focus of architecture in South Africa is often centered on intense urban areas in the country. However, important though these areas are, they represent only one facet of the greater country. The rural areas around South Africa are repeatedly overlooked. Added to that, our rich heritage and increasingly unique and threatened relationship with the natural systems around us is often sidelined. Our relationship with the natural world is a complicated one. Humans, perhaps the only species on earth able to do so, have the opportunity to decide whether to live symbiotically with nature or parasitically. Unfortunately the choice is often the latter. One of the areas where our rather strained and openended relationship with the natural world is most apparent is in the impoverished rural Bonjaneni Community of the Amazizi Tribal Authority located in the Okhahlamba District of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Mankind’s negative impacts on this regions natural mechanisms are being felt locally and nationally in three particular areas that form the key points of focus for the thesis: grasslands, water systems and the decline of the Cape Vulture population. Grassland is of utmost importance ecologically, economically and socially for the region, without healthy grassland community livestock cannot survive, thatch cannot be gathered and the landscape will become prone to severe erosion during the rainy season. Erosion negatively affects the Tugela River water catchment basin too. Without healthy vegetation cover the landscape and community will become prone to flooding. Silt from the erosion will impact numerous dams further downstream that supply water to KwaZulu-Natal and the economic heartland of South Africa, Gauteng. The repercussions of a threatened population of Cape Vultures are also of concern. Without the specialised scavenger animal corpses will be left to fester in the sun, developing carrion borne diseases that can negatively affect the health of pets, people and livestock. These problems result in a considerable financial burden to the community and the government, yet these are all problems that can be addressed through responsible stewardship of the land and an awareness of our position in the natural world.
This document is submitted in partial fulfilment for the degree: Masters of Architecture [Professional] at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 2015
Marchant, Craig Galen (2016) [Trophic Cascade]: an ecological research, education and information community centre in the Amazizi Tribal Authority of the Drakenburg, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, < http://wiredspace.wits.ac.za/handle/10539/22091>