South Africa names its 17th Ramsar site

South Africa names its 17th Ramsar site

13 February 2002
South Africa

South Africa

southafrica-verloren1.jpg (17575 bytes)

The Ramsar Bureau is very pleased to announce that the Republic of South Africa has designated its 17th Wetland of International Importance, effective 16 October 2001. Verloren Valei Nature Reserve (5,891 hectares, 25°17’S 030°09’E), in Mpumalanga Province in the northeast, is a provincial protected area above 2000m altitude comprising more than 30 wetlands (14% of the site’s area), ranging between 2 and 250 hectares, primarily permanent freshwater marshes, with the emergent vegetation waterlogged for most of the season. The area is especially important hydrologically because it acts as a sponge in the upper catchment of important river systems for both South Africa and Mozambique, ensuring gradual release to more populous downstream regions during rainy periods. It supports high botanical diversity and is one of the last areas with suitable Wattled Crane Bugeranus carunculata breeding habitat. A variety of wetland types characteristic of the region is represented, and a significant number of vulnerable and threatened plant, butterfly, and mammal species are supported. Population density in the area is low, but farming and grazing occur in the surrounding areas. A management plan, including controlled burning, is in place, employing local people. Small-scale avi-tourism occurs and guided tours are planned. No urgent threats are foreseen, though introduced exotic plant species are being watched carefully.  This welcome addition is the Convention's 1109th Ramsar site, bringing the total surface area to 87,254,670 hectares. [27/11/01]