Water Balance Programme | WWF South Africa

	© Kevin Schafer

Water Balance

Healthy rivers are essential for our freshwater ecosystems to cope with floods and other climate change impacts, with the removal of invasive alien vegetation a first step towards restoring these systems.

South Africa’s national water resource strategy of 2004 identified the clearing of these water-thirsty invasive alien plants as one of the most important water supply interventions to be made on a national scale.

Unlike our climate-adapted indigenous vegetation, infestations of fast-growing foreign plants and trees from other continents – including wattles, gums and pines – are sucking our limited water resources dry.

Clearing of this extensive alien vegetation not only releases water back into aquatic ecosystems but contributes towards improving the healthy functioning of our rivers and shared natural systems. It also reduces the impact of floods and wildfires, restores biodiversity, improves water quality, improves resilience to climate change and creates jobs.

Since 1995, government has spent millions – through their Working for Water initiative – to tackle this complex problem. However, alien clearing requires collective action from landowners, business and society, to achieve sustainable, impactful interventions.

WWF saw this threat as an opportunity to engage and harness corporate support for the wise management of our water resources by empowering forward-thinking water users to become active water stewards. The aim is to link corporate water users to the importance of the health of our natural infrastructure by enabling them to make positive investment into critical catchments. These investments are used to clear a sufficient number of hectares of invasive alien vegetation to balance the participant’s operational water use, as well as to mobilise the collective action necessary to ensure the sustainability of these interventions.

By committing to three steps: reviewing, reducing and replenishing their operational water use, participating corporates are not only investing in demand side management, but also in the water supply side management so vitally needed.

Thus, participating corporates take a step beyond their internal efforts to proactively invest into the country’s water security, which is simultaneously investing in a more stable society by contributing to national development goals such as job creation and poverty alleviation, as well as social and economic development targets.


  • Woolworths
  • Nedbank
  • Sanlam
  • Sonae Novobord


  • Department of Environmental Affairs – Natural Resource Management Programmes: Land User Incentive Scheme
  • Nissan
  • Fruitways Farming Ltd
  • SAB Ltd
  • Riviersonderend Water Users Association (ZWUA)
  • Breede- Gouritz Catchment Management Agency (BGCMA)
  • Canon
Implementing partners
  • Cape Nature
  • Cape Winelands District Municipality
  • Department of Environmental Affairs: Working for Water, Working for Wetlands
  • Luneberg farmers within the KwaMandlangampisi Protected Area
  • NCC
  • Natural Infrastructure Services (NIS)

Collaboration, collective action and increased investment both public and private, into our natural infrastructure are prerequisites for a prosperous future for South Africa.

Helen Gordon, Programme Manager for the WWF Water Balance Programme

	© Thomas Peschak
South Africa’s economy as a whole, and almost every private sector enterprise in South Africa will be negatively affected by water shortages.
© Thomas Peschak
	© Hougaard Malan
WWF, through a partnership with Sanlam, works to conserve and ensure the healthy functioning of South Africa’s important freshwater ecosystems.
© Hougaard Malan

Follow WWF

	© Istockphoto.com / WWF-Canada
South Africa is a water insecure country. Wise water usage is something we all should aspire to.
© Istockphoto.com / WWF-Canada