World Wetlands Day 2000: South Africa


South Africa ’s World Wetlands Day Report 2000

southafrica.gif (1707 bytes)The World Wetlands Day (WWD) was approached with the same enthusiasm as last year with different activities taking place around the country. The National Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism worked together with the same coordinators appointed last year in each province (except Northern province). It supplied each coordinator with the theme for celebrating this year WWD, information on each of our Ramsar sites, and any other informative material on wetlands that would be useful for WWD celebration in their provinces.

The National Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism prepared a press release on information about each of the sixteen South African Wetlands of International Importance. A report (obtained from some of the provincial coordinators) on the activities or events that took place on 2nd February at different areas are listed below.

Some events were also held after the WWD on a weekend as it was not easy for some people to attend the events during the week.

In Pretoria, Colbyn Valley, where a wetland area was discovered, WWD was taken as an opportunity to promote public awareness about this wetland area. A Mosstrosity youth group of grade 10 students (C.R. Swart High School) had taken the responsibility to preserve this wetland area found within the metropolitan area of Pretoria. The Colbyn Valley covers 80 hectares of wetland area and it contains peat fossils dating back to 8,500 years. It consists of grassland, wetland, peatland and vegetation of the Koppie. 108 bird species of which 6 are species are threatened occur in this area, 25 mammals of which some are endangered, 8 species of indigenous trees, 6 species of shrubs and 6 species of grass can also be found in this wetland area. As part of celebrating WWD an open day was held at Colbyn valley. Visitors were taken on a two hour educational tour through the wetland and were shown the 2m thick peatland and, the circumstances under which peat develops were explained. Also the danger of losing this peatland were appointed and the steps which can be taken to restore the wetland to its former pristine state were discussed.

In Mpumalanga special attention was given to the application of Verloren valei nature reserve found in this province to be recognised as a Ramsar site. The application has been approved and recommended by the Working Group on Biodiversity, Conservation and Heritage. Radio interviews were held on the importance of wetlands and world wetlands day and also some articles on wetlands were published on several newspapers. The published articles included a picture quiz and a full page wetland poster developed by the Lydenburg Environmental Centre. Other activities at which members of the community and school children were involved included workshops, video shows and a visit to a wetland area guided by environmental officers. The wetland area was offered by Sappi and Nova Board to be used as an educational resource as part of WWD activities.

At the Swartkops educational centre (Eastern Cape) an environmental video on caring for our environment was shown to pupils (Swartkop primary school), and also a presentation on the importance of wetlands and their threats was made. Pupils were taken for a tour around the Swartkops Estuary, picking up litter and having informal talks of the estuary and wetlands in general. Other activities included the Ilungelo Primary school enviro club at Kwazhakhele, which has adopted a wetland and running a rehabilitation project. Activities also included school kids in the Seekoei sub-region near the Krom River wetland. A speech on the Wetlands of International importance was delivered and a water quality testing was performed by officials with the pupils. A talk highlighting the importance of caring for our environment especially our wetlands as we are a water stressed country was broadcasted at various radio stations (Umhlongo Wenene FM, Radio Ciskei) in the province

The Orange River Mouth Ramsar site found on the coast of the Namaqualand and is the only Wetland of International Importance in the Northern Cape. The Namaqualand region is often neglected because of its distance from the Northern Cape capital, hence the Orange River Mouth Ramsar site provided with a logical choice for WWD activities to be focussed in this region

A slide show dealing with various aspects of wetland biology (e.g. the diversity of wetlands in the Northern Cape, their ecological value, their importance to human kind and its conservation importance) was presented at each of the six schools visited. The target audience at schools included eco-clubs, grade 12 biology and geography pupils. Special emphasize was placed on the Orange River Mouth Ramsar site at Alexander Bay and the audiences were alerted as to the conservation value of this site and the efforts that are been taken to safeguard the wetland from further degradation (already seen during the early nineties).

In the other provinces most of the activities included radio interviews, publications of articles on various newspapers and workshops on wetland related issues.

Organisations that took part in the events across the country:

  • National Department of Environmental affairs and Tourism (DEAT)
  • Department of Water affairs and Forestry
  • Eastern Cape Department of Economic Affairs, Environment and Tourism
  • Mpumalanga Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism
  • Gauteng Department of agriculture, conservation and Environment
  • Northwest Department of agriculture, Environment and Conservation
  • Port Elizabeth Municipality-Parks and Recreation
  • Community Environment Network (Eastern Cape local NGO)
  • Northern Cape Nature Conservation
  • Mpumalanga Parks board
  • Wetland Consulting services
  • Dinaletswa Conservation club
  • Fountyn Mineral Water
  • Golbyn Golf Range
  • Pretoria City Council
  • Lydenberg Environmental Centre
  • Sappi and Nova board
  • Rennies Wetland project (NGO)

Prepared by Mmakoma Moloto
South African Wetlands Conservation Programme
Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism
Private Bag X447
Pretoria 0001
Republic of South Africa

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