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In Numbers

Tucked between the mountain and the sea, on a mountain range that cuts across the Western and Eastern Cape, the Tsitsikamma water source area supplies the Garden Route, Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage with water.

Size: 325 481 ha

Did You Know?

  • “Tsitsikamma” is a Khoi word meaning “a place of abundant water”.
  • Africa’s oldest marine protected area – the Tsitsikamma Marine Protected Area – is adjacent to this water source area.
  • 41% of the water supplied to Port Elizabeth is derived from this water source area.
  • Dozens of ancient insect species, as old as the dinosaurs, are found in this water source area, making it a “Jurassic Park” of freshwater life.


Land Use (in %)

  • Mining 0.01%
  • Wetlands 1.16%
  • Urban 1.42%
  • Cultivation (irrigated) 3.26%
  • Waterbodies 0.30%
  • Plantation/Woodlot 7.55%
  • Cultivation (dryland) 10.10%
  • Natural 76.20%

41% Protected Areas

Approximately 41% of the Tsitsikamma water source area is under legal protection. This includes the Garden Route National Park, two provincial nature reserves (Soetkraal and Formosa Nature Reserves) and two local nature reserves.

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Threat Status

  • River Ecosystems
  • Wetland Ecosystems

River Ecosystems

Up to 76% of this water source area is in natural condition.

  • 13% Critically Endangered
  • 87% Least Threatened

Wetland Ecosystems

Up to 18% of wetland ecosystems are critically endangered and 43% are endangered in this water source area.

  • 18% Critically Endangered
  • 43% Endangered
  • 40% Least Threatened


The Tsitsikamma water source area is relatively well protected (41%) and up to 76% in natural condition. However, up to 7.5% is under commercial plantations and up to 14% under cultivation. Alien invasive vegetation and fires are significant threats to the water source area. Which legal and management mechanisms are available to support improved forestry and agricultural resource management within water source areas?

Interactive Map

South Africa has 22 water source areas spread across five provinces (KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Limpopo). The total size of our water source areas is 12.32 million hectares. A number of these areas extend and are shared with Lesotho and Swaziland; approximately 1.91 million hectares in Lesotho and 0.93 million hectares in Swaziland.

The total volume of water supplied by these areas per year is approximately 2 457 million cubic metres. The greatest volume of recharge is generated by the Southern Drakensberg, followed by the Eastern Cape Drakensberg and the Boland Mountains.