#WorldWetlandsDay: A look at SA's protected wetlands PLUS 5 you need to visit this year


Cape Town - Today is World Wetlands Day, marking the 46th anniversary of the Ramsar Convention and the adoption of an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable utilisation of wetlands on 2 February 1971.

Initially held in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea, Ramsar sites as they are now known help raise public awareness about the importance and value of wetlands. 

In our home country, South Africa is home to 17 of these incredible sites, a confirmation of our rich wetland biodiversity. 

Last year, the Department of Environmental Affairs said that their Working for Wetlands Programme managed to rehabilitate 123 wetlands in South Africa between 2015 and 2016. 

READ: SA's natural water resources boosted as 123 wetlands rehabilitated

This, after they invested R1 billion into the rehabilitation of a total of 1 200 wetlands around South Africa since the inception of the programme, started in 2000. 

Wetlands are among the most threatened aquatic habitats in South Africa and the whole of southern Africa. Due to bad land management practices such as effluent disposal, overgrazing, unsustainable crop production, pollution, urban development and erosion, many of these most valuable resources on this continent are struggling to flourish as they should. 

In the whole of southern Africa, wetlands play perhaps the most crucial role in maintaining our rich natural resources of flora and fauna. Places like the Okavango Delta, Etosha Pan, Lake Oponono and Cuvelai in Namibia, the Bangweulu Swamps of Zambia and SA's very own iSimangaliso Wetland serve as prime examples. 

Here's a look at 5 South African Ramsar Wetland sites you should visit this year -

De Hoop Vlei

SEEDe Hoop Escape: Peace, quiet and enjoying the gentle giants




Orange River Mouth




Langebaan


Natal Drakensberg Park


Wilderness Lakes



4 Ways to help protect wetlands

By planting indigenous plants especially near a wetland could increase wetland protection?
By not applying fertilisers or pesticides within ‘25 feet’ could also be protecting a wetland as this area would serve as a buffer zone?
Join estuary exploration initiatives/ talks
Join clean up initiatives

The People & Conservation Divisions in the Garden Route National Park will be hosting 500 learners from disadvantaged communities this month as part of a conservation programme. 


Full list of South African Ramsar sites include:

Barberspan
Blesbokspruit
De Hoop Vlei
De Mond (Heuningnes Estuary)
Kosi Bay
Lake Sibhayi
Langebaan
Natal Drakensberg Park
Ndumo Game Reserve
Nylsvley Nature Reserve
Orange River Mouth
Seekoei-vlei Nature Reserve
St Lucia System     
Turtle Beaches and Coral Reefs of Tongaland
Verlorenvlei  
Wilderness Lakes


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