World Wetlands Day 2002: South Africa


Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism
Media Statement (Media alert) For immediate release

29 January 2002
Contact: Phindile Makwakwa 072 216 7062


The Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Ms Rejoice Mabudafhasi, will join the world on February 2 in celebrating the World Wetlands Day at Makuleke Village in Northern Province.

Each year on February 2, people around the world celebrate the value of wetlands and their vital link to human well-being. This day marks the birth of the Ramsar Convention on wetlands signed in 1971 in the city of Iran called Ramsar. South Africa, as a founding member of the convention, has a particular cause to celebrate its role in the birth of a worldwide movement to safeguard one of the most productive and significant, and yet threatened ecosystems of the planet.

This year's event is celebrated under the theme "Wetlands: water, life and culture". It emphasises the cultural aspects of wetlands as a tool for their conservation and sustainable use.

Mabudafhasi is also expected to announce the intention to submit Limpopo-Levuvhu for the designation to the Ramsar list of Wetlands of International Importance. She will further announce a rehabilitation project around the lake Fundudzi area.

Once these Wetlands areas are bestowed the Ramsar status, they would be the first of their kind to be owned by a community in SA.

As South Africa prepares to host the World Summit on Sustainable Development, Wetlands Day is also a good opportunity to examine the link between wetlands and the issues that will be under the spotlight at the Summit. A consideration of the functions, values and benefits of wetlands shows how these ecosystems have the potential to contribute to the sustainability of economic growth and development in South Africa. Unlike other water sectors that require interventions and investment to produce benefits from the use of water resources, the major benefits from wetlands are derived from their inherent functions. While these services are provided free of charge by wetlands, the converse is that, when we damage or destroy these wetlands, we must expect to pay a price. We must recognise this immediately and act to retain wetlands as a tool for achieving sustainable water management.

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Number of » Contracting Parties: 168 Sites designated for the
» List of Wetlands of
International Importance
2,186 Total surface area of designated sites (hectares): 208,674,247

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