World Wetlands Day: Province working hard to restore wetlands

More than 50% of South Africa’s wetlands have been lost, and of those that remain, 33% are in poor ecological condition.

In celebration of World Wetlands Day taking place on  2 February 2020, Minister of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (DEA&DP) Anton Bredell has commended the work being done across the Western Cape to rehabilitate and restore wetlands in the Province.

“Wetlands are of incredible biological importance and provide water and protection from natural disasters, support rich biodiversity, and stores more carbon than any other ecosystem. Our Department has prioritised wetlands as critical ecological infrastructure in the Province, believing wetlands provide essential services to communities and our economy.”

Bredell says CapeNature and partners prioritise wetlands for protection and rehabilitation projects along with the National Working for Wetlands programme.

“We also support Biosphere Reserves who work hard to better protect and rehabilitate our natural heritage,” said Bredell. 

Highlighting two projects on wetland restoration, the Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve (GCBR) has had success in its Goukou Resilient River Project, which aims to restore natural wetlands and riparian systems through the removal of alien invasive vegetation and active rehabilitation.

Kezia Botes (Goukou Resilient River Project Research & Rehabilitation Co-ordinator) said, “Working together with various organisations and experts (SANBI, Cape Nature, Working for Wetlands amongst others) we’ve focussed primarily on rehabilitating our largest wetland (in the Riversdale area), the Broomvlei through Invasive Alien Clearing initiatives. Since January 2019, the project has cleared just under 120 hectares of heavily infested areas and just under 400 hectares of lower density landscape area has been cleared. Over the next two years we are aiming to clear an additional 600 hectares of land within the direct catchment of the Broomvlei, as well as establishing a rehabilitation nursery (indigenous species) which will provide plants for the restoration of a training and research site.” 

The other project implemented by GCBR is the WaterWise Ways Project, which looks at saving and “cleaning” water through the installation of artificial wetlands in a municipal wastewater treatment work.

Susan Botha (of Trapsuutjies, the service provider for the WaterWise Ways Project) says the water quality in Karoo rivers is poor as there is less water available to dilute and assimilate waste discharge.

“Globally wastewater is gaining momentum as a reliable alternative source of water, shifting the paradigm from ‘treatment and disposal’ to ‘reuse, recycle and resource recovery’”, said Botha.

Bredell congratulated the GCBR on its achievements to date especially at exploring alternative methods to treating and restoring water.  “We need to continue getting back to the basics and do even more to restore and rebuild our wetlands,” says Bredell.

Take part in the global celebration by following the hashtags #WorldWetlandsDay #WetlandBiodiversityMatters

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