Assessing the potential impact of agriculture on the biogeochemistry of a pristine wetland, the Okavango Delta

The Okavango Delta, Botswana is a World Heritage Site and an international treasure. The Delta is created by seasonal flooding from rainfall in the Angola highlands, the water is transported by the Okavango River and is lost primarily through evapotranspiration in the Kalahari Basin. The continued inflow of clean water coupled with various biogeochemical processes allows the Okavango Delta to remain a productive freshwater wetland ecosystem. The integrity of the Delta has remained intact, yet recent events in Angola threaten its pristine nature. In this project we will examine the conflicts between agricultural development and increasing food production with the potential for environmental degradation of the Okavango Delta by diminishing water quality. The political pressure for development of one of the most fertile agricultural regions in Africa questions whether we can sustain ecosystem health in the long run, while feeding an expanding world population. We will assemble a team and engage the Fellows at STIAS to address this critical and pressing issue.

Project leader(s):
  • Daniel Conley (Department of Geology, Lund University)

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