We used locally-sourced and other relevant information to value ecosystem services provided by South Africa's
terrestrial, freshwater and estuarine habitats. Our preliminary estimates suggest that these are worth at least
R275 billion per annum to South Africans. Notwithstanding benefits to the rest of the world, natural systems
provide a major source of direct income to poor households, and generate significant value in the economy
through tourism and property markets, as well as providing considerable non-market benefits. Higher values
correspond both to areas of higher biomass, which have higher capacity to supply ecosystem services, and areas
of higher population densities, which generate demand as well as threats. The value of regulating services is
higher for natural systems closer to population centres. Amenity values are highest in cities and protected areas,
with the fragmented green open space areas within cities have among the highest values per ha. Even if the gaps
are taken into account, our estimates are far lower than estimates based on average global values, but are likely
to be more accurate, relevant and tractable to policymakers. Nevertheless, some services have large global
values, the recognition of which is important in developing strategies for financing biodiversity conservation.
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