Call for continued public participation in wetland protection, preservation

1st March 2024

By: Natasha Odendaal

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) has called for continued public participation in the protection and preservation of South Africa’s critical wetlands.

Wetlands play a significant role in flood prevention, clean water provision, support of biodiversity and provision of recreational areas for both locals and tourists.

The call follows a successful celebration of World Wetlands Day in February with the City of Tshwane, the Department of Education, the South African National Biodiversity Institute, the local community and primary school learners, where Water Resource Support’s Tebogo Mashiane said awareness campaigns provide an opportunity for the wider community to learn and comprehend the significant role played by these wetlands.

Wetlands have numerous important benefits, including increased biodiversity, replenished and filtered water supply, increased tourism and higher quality leisure time, increased carbon storage and emissions avoidance.

According to the DWS, wetlands function as a natural buffer regulating stream flows, absorbing excess water during heavy rains and releasing it during dry periods, which can reduce the severity of droughts and floods.

Wetlands also play a major role in water supply security and are essential for maintaining clean water sources, acting as natural filters, removing pollutants and contaminants from water bodies, leading to improved water quality.

“Wetlands are crucial for supporting biodiversity and maintaining ecological balance by acting as nurseries and breeding grounds for numerous aquatic species,” adds Water Sector Support’s Oscar Bungeni, outlining that wetlands provide a habitat for rare and endangered plant and animal species.

Seeking to educate and raise awareness among society, Mashiane presented basic concepts of wetlands and water resources, recommending citizen science tools to assess the health of water resources using simple and standardised methods for those interested in environmental affairs.

Resource Quality Information Services national coordinator Noloyiso Mbiza highlighting the importance of wetlands for the environment, emphasises that preserving the environment is a collective responsibility that requires individual effort.

The public can contribute by reducing pollution through proper waste disposal and avoiding activities that could contaminate water bodies, as well as volunteering for wetland clean-up initiatives, which will help to remove litter and restore the natural beauty of these areas.

DWS Spokesperson Wisani Mavasa urges the public to consider taking part in various DWS initiatives as they aim to improve the public’s view on the conservation and preservation of these valuable ecosystems.

“Join us to save wetlands. Your actions matter. Together, we can protect and preserve these vital ecosystems for future generations,” she says.

The DWS has been engaging the public and creating awareness about wetlands and the importance of keeping them, other watercourses and the environment at large clean and healthy.

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor



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