South Africa joins the nations of the world in celebration of the World Wetland Day under the theme: Wetlands and Biodiversity, to raise awareness about these precious ecosystems as a source of freshwater. Wetlands are rich with biodiversity and provide habitats for a variety of plant and animal species.
Wetlands are highly productive and biologically diverse systems that enhance water quality, control erosion, maintain stream flows, sequestrate carbon, and provide habitats to threatened and endangered species.
The latest Global Biodiversity Assessment indicates that wetlands are disappearing three times faster than forests. This finding is in concurrence with recent National Biodiversity Assessment that places wetlands as the most threatened of all South Africa’s ecosystems, with 79% of wetland ecosystems being threatened.
It is for this reason that the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries has invested over R320 million in rehabilitation and maintenance of various wetlands throughout South Africa since 2017. The rehabilitation and maintenance of wetlands are coordinated through the Working for Wetlands Programme, an Expanded Public Works Programme that focuses on remedial interventions for maintaining healthy wetlands.
Since 2017, the Working for Wetlands Programme has rehabilitated over 360 wetlands countrywide, which equals to approximately 22 500 hectares, thereby contributing to increased healthier water supplies improving the economic benefits of natural and agricultural habitats. This has created 11 764 jobs and skills development opportunities for South Africans.
Our rich endowment of biodiversity comes with a huge responsibility of ensuring that our species and ecosystems are conserved and used sustainably for the benefit of all South Africans.
Information from Environmental Affairs