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Arkert, J. 2015. Risks to ecological systems from hydraulic fracturing in the Nama Karoo, South Africa. PhD Thesis, University of Pretoria


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Risks to ecological systems from hydraulic fracturing in the Nama Karoo, South Africa.

Summary / Notes:

This study focused on the potential impacts to biodiversity and ecosystem services that may occur in the event of hydraulic fracturing for shale gas materialising in the Namakaroo biome in South Africa. Fracking has become a highly contested issue internationally and no less so in South Africa, where applications are being considered by the government to permit three international companies to proceed with shale gas extraction. With no domestic experience of fracking in South Africa a literature research of data emanating from the USA was conducted to evaluate the extraction process. Documented environmental impacts and effects on biodiversity and ecosystem services in the USA have been used to provide insight into potential influences in the Nama-karoo. A qualitative study method was applied to identify and evaluate existing biotic and abiotic systems within the biome. From the outset, hydraulic fracturing, will require that suitable infra-structure including roads and drill pads must be constructed that will necessitate habitat degradation and fragmentation with associated edge effects. The potential introduction of alien species, pollution of water resources and over utilisation of wildlife are also recognised as impacts that may affect prevailing biodiversity and existing ecosystems in the Nama-karoo. Despite continuing attempts to value products and services derived from ecosystems, commonly accepted means to quantify ecosystem services remain vague. Utilising the identified sources of environmental impacts that may be introduced to the Nama-karoo, four ecosystem services, namely; provisioning, regulating, cultural and supporting services have been considered. Affected ecosystem services are not quantified or valued, however, suggestions are provided that will enable decision makers to appreciate the manner in which fracking may degrade existing ecosystem services to the detriment of current and future human well-being. Keywords: Hydraulic fracturing, shale gas, Nama-karoo, biodiversity, ecosystem services.

Year: 2015

Type: Thesis

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