CapeNature to protect estuaries

2012-03-29 09:09
Algae coats parts of Zandvlei in Muizenberg, near Cape Town. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Algae coats parts of Zandvlei in Muizenberg, near Cape Town. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - CapeNature will set aside R24.5m of its budget to help protect estuaries and improve the functioning of catchment areas.

The institution has participated in the development of 22 estuaries in the Western Cape in the past year.

"Estuaries or the tidal mouth of large rivers are the scorecards of our catchments. If a catchment is not managed effectively the estuary and associated marine ecosystems will reflect this. In addition to the loss of biodiversity, all associated goods and services that an estuary has to offer are lost," said CapeNature's Cape Estuaries Programme co-ordinator, Pierre De Villiers.

Estuaries form transition zones between rivers and oceans are critical for the support of various species in its ecosystem.

Several large cites are located on estuaries and they are often subjected to high levels of pollution which destroys the system. Overfishing and development can lead to the life in the estuary becoming unsustainable.


"The economic and social benefits that the associated coastal towns and coastal communities derive from estuaries will then also be impacted," said De Villiers.

The Western Cape government has urged local communities to get involved in protecting estuaries.

"Local communities in the Western Cape have taken ownership of their estuaries with the help of conservation authority, CapeNature," said Anton Bredell, Western Cape MEC for environmental affairs and development planning.

Estuaries in Cape Town are under threat and residents met on Wednesday to discuss the Zandvlei estuary in Muizenberg, near Cape Town.

Fish are dying off in the estuary and the lack of oxygen in the water has contributed to growth of algae blooms in the estuary.

These blooms are often the result of high concentrations of phosphorus found in fertilizers or household cleaners.

On a tour through the Zandvlei estuary, News24 saw thick blooms of algae, particularly on the north and east side, which is adjacent to the exclusive suburb of Marina da Gama.

Bredell encouraged the public to become involved in the protection of estuaries.

"Every citizen of the Western Cape has the opportunity to do something about improving the health of our rivers and estuaries by joining a local estuary forum or forming one."

- Follow Duncan on Twitter
Read more on:    capenature  |  anton bredell  |  environment

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