World Wetlands Day 2020 – creating awareness and employment
World Wetlands Day falls on 02 February each year. It has been celebrated internationally since 1997, marking the adoption of the Ramsar Convention on wetlands. The day is aimed at drawing attention to the importance of biodiversity, specifically within a wetland ecosystem, found by the National Biodiversity Assessment of 2012, to be the most critically endangered ecosystem type in South Africa. Wetland habitat is lost through erosion, invasion by alien vegetation, pollution, extreme flooding and inappropriate fire regimes.
CapeNature has collaborated with SANBI, Working for Water, Mondi Wetlands Programme and the World Wildlife Fund South Africa (WWF-SA) to rehabilitate important wetlands across the Western Cape. One such project is the Goukou-Duiwenhoks Wetlands Project, which aims to rehabilitate wetlands through invasive alien clearing. This increases water supply and encourages the growth of indigenous species. Clearing is often followed by gabion construction, which stabilises areas where plants were removed.
“Wetlands cover over 4 million ha of the country’s surface area and provide essential ecosystem services such as fresh water supply, flood reduction and erosion control. These ecosystems also provide spiritual, educational and recreational benefits. They provide jobs through sectors such as tourism and restoration. Projects such as the Goukou-Duiwenhoks Wetlands Project, not only create employment, but allow for skills transfer as well as development support to small businesses”, says Mr Ben Van Staden, the Programme Manager: Natural Resource Management at CapeNature.
In addition to rehabilitation efforts, CapeNature creates awareness around the topic through the implementation of various educational programmes. During the month of February, CapeNature will be hosting 21 awareness initiatives across the Western Cape.
Members of the public are encouraged to focus on a relationship that is often forgotten, their relationship with the natural environment. Citizens can do their part by reducing pollution, planting indigenous plants and participating in river clean up and alien clearing projects.