ED’S NOTE Bio-diversity grows employment Gregory Penfold firstname.lastname@example.org Times as tough for business. SACCI's Business Confidence Index says it all: optimism is in short supply. Of course, business confidence tends to be a cyclical affair: usually there is a point at which it bounces back, even if the down cycle is on the long side. The same cannot be said for the ecosystems on which all forms of life, including business, depend. According to the latest National Biodiversity Assessment report, a comprehensive four-year study of South Africa’s critical natural ecosystems and a collaborative effort from more than 470 individuals from 90 institutions, our ecosystems are in big trouble. Speaking at the launch of the report, Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy, highlighted the significance of the report for business. South Africa is one of 17 megadiverse nations containing plant and marine species found nowhere else on Earth. Biodiversity-related employment is thereof of strategic significance. No fewer than 418 000 jobs are biodiversity-related, compared to the 430 0000 jobs sustained by the mining sector Moreover, many biodiversity-related jobs are in rural areas where employment alternatives are limited. “The most concerning of the report’s findings relate to our freshwater ecosystems, rivers, wetlands, estuaries and freshwater fish stocks. These are the most vulnerable of all species groups and the most threatened ecosystems in South Africa,” said the Minister. “In a water-stressed country such as ours, these findings are cause for serious concern,” said Minister Creecy acknowledging the scientists’ call for urgent action to improve the health of the rivers, wetlands and estuaries that protect the country’s water security. “The restoration and protection of these fresh water eco-systems, or what we term eco-infrastructure services, will deliver huge returns on investment with great benefit to the communities that depend on them,” she said. Needless to say, businesses that connect with these communities also stand to benefit.
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