Wetlands threatened - Mabudafhasi
Johannesburg - Over half of South Africa's river and wetlands ecosystems are threatened, Deputy Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi said on Monday.
"Deterioration in the health of ecosystems negatively impacts on their ability to continue providing these beneficial ecosystem services," she said in a speech prepared for delivery at the launch of the Atlas of Freshwater Ecosystem Priority Areas, in Pretoria.
"There is no doubt that South Africa's freshwater ecosystems are under increasing pressure."
The atlas would provide the first comprehensive assessment of areas in the country that were most important for sustaining the health and continued functioning of freshwater ecosystems.
Mabudafhasi said ecosystems, like municipal services, played an essential role in supporting development and economic prosperity.
The ecological infrastructure, together with artificial infrastructure, generated jobs and eradicated poverty, she said.
The maps had been developed for each of the 19 water management areas in South Africa.
They helped to make informed choices and trade-offs based on a clear understanding of where South Africa's valuable freshwater ecosystems were located.
Freshwater ecosystem goals
They also provided information on how to incorporate freshwater ecosystem goals into integrated planning and decision-making processes.
The maps were available to planners and decision-makers through training and web-based tools on the SA National Biodiversity Institute's Biodiversity, GIS website.
Mabudafhasi said training would start this week in Cape Town, followed by Pretoria and KwaZulu-Natal.
A training course was planned in the Eastern Cape next year.
About 250 water and environmental practitioners would participate, she said.