Lake St Lucia is Africa’s largest and most important estuarine ecosystem. However, there is a critical need to understand the processes driving change at Lake St Lucia across a range of temporal scales. Virtually all research on St Lucia has taken place since 1950 and has therefore dealt with a system that has been severely impacted by human activities and management interventions. Previous attempts to manage the estuary in the past have been limited by our understanding of the long-term processes that govern change at the regional scale. In addition, the system is at a point in its geological evolution where it is extremely sensitive to changes in runoff, sediment supply, and nutrient inputs. Despite increasing concern regarding the influence of anthropogenic activities, there are few accurate records from Lake St Lucia against which future trends in accumulation can be assessed. By examining chemical and sedimentological changes, this study aims to provide insight into the underlying processes driving change within the St Lucia system. The long-term evolution and functioning of the system will be investigated through the development of a high-resolution, multi-proxy reconstruction, against which current anthropogenic stresses associated with sedimentation and eutrophication can be assessed. The study brings together specialists from four different universities and will provide essential knowledge that will ultimately underpin management strategies for future conservation at St Lucia.

The work is currently funded by the South African Water Research Commission (WRC) and the NRF.