Tia Keighley

Name: Tia-Kristi KeighleyTia Keighley pic

Supervisors: Dr Tally Palmer (Rhodes) and Dr Victor Munnik (WITs)

Degree: MSc (Water Resource Science)

Year of registration: 2015

Title of thesis: Mining and biodiversity in the Upper Komati catchment: contestations in a complex social- biophysical system

Mining in South Africa plays an essential role in the country’s economy. However mining (specifically coal mining) is also one of South Africa’s most contentious water users and in many cases has proven to be environmentally destructive (e.g. in relation to acid mine drainage); and its practices unsustainable. A major concern is coal mining’s negative impact on the biodiversity of the country and the associated ecosystems that provide an array of goods and services to the natural environment and surrounding communities (Kirkman, 2006).  Examples of what is argued to be one of South Africa’s most important, yet threatened ecosystems are wetlands and their associated ecological infrastructure. However biodiversity is easily threatened by unsustainable land use. Therefore, in order to ensure the long term flow that ecosystem goods and services provide, careful management of mining and other activities is required. A prime case study reflecting the contestation involved with wetland conservation and mining is the well explained case of acid mine drainage impacting many aspects of biodiversity and society in the town Carolina, Mpumalanga. My thesis therefore aims to:

  1.  Describe the wetland ecological infrastructure of the Upper Komati catchment (UKC)
  1. Analyse the mining and wetland biodiversity activity in the UKC
  2. Offer alternative future pathways 

With the outcomes of the project I am to contribute towards landscape and integrated water resource management that will include the appropriate protection of ecological infrastructure and biodiversity of the upper Komati River catchment.

I am very passionate about the rights of the biophysical world, through greater understanding I am not only increasing my knowledge of the importance, but also the dependence humans and the natural environment have on one another. My studies have also highlighted that there are a vast range of drivers and the interactions among them are complex and conservation and management solutions are forever changing and adapting. Growing up in the city of Johannesburg I have witnessed the destruction that unsustainable/ poorly managed land uses and a growing population can have on the natural environment and water resources. I therefore aim to use my knowledge and experience to help rectify problems and lay down sustainable foundations for the future.

Last Modified: Wed, 30 Sep 2015 12:36:10 SAST