Garden ecosystem services of Sub-Saharan Africa and the role of health clinic gardens as social-ecological systems
Du Toit, M.J.
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Rapid urbanization is predicted to take place in Africa in the near future and currently stressed cities will be even more overburdened in terms of pressure on green areas and increasing urban poverty. Effectively planning for and conserving current urban green infrastructure will be essential to ensure resilience and maintenance of quality urban environments. Gardens represent major portions of urban green infrastructure. In this paper we review literature to determine the current status of garden ecosystem services under the main themes of provisioning, regulating, supporting and cultural services in sub-Saharan Africa and identify the current challenges in optimizing these ecosystem services. Studying gardens as social-ecological systems might be the key to promote and enhance their resilience capacity in a changing world, acknowledging the fact that gardens are communities of practice in which social learning may occur. Studies on health clinic gardens in the North-West Province of South Africa have indicated how some of the challenges in terms of optimizing garden ecosystem services can be addressed. Multiple stakeholders involved in the health clinic gardens contribute towards a co-production of knowledge that could lead to social learning on aspects such as cultivation of nutritious food. More detailed studies on health clinic gardens are however, necessary to be able to develop a community-based resource management framework that can be implemented in the North-West Province and potentially in other South African provinces and countries in Sub-Saharan Africa