Working for Wetlands
Wetlands are our natural resources and ecological infrastructure which provide a range of functions and services, free of charge. Despite being high-value ecosystems, between 35% and 60% of South Africa’s wetlands have already been lost or severely degraded through transformation.
Working for Wetlands is a joint initiative of the Departments of Environmental Affairs (DEA), Water and Sanitation (DWS) and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), as well as other partners, such as the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), CapeNature, some Municipalities, Catchment Management Agencies, etc. The Working for Wetlands programme focuses on the rehabilitation, wise use and protection of wetlands in a manner that maximises job creation, supports small businesses and transfers relevant and marketable skills to beneficiaries.
In the Riversdale area, the Working for Wetlands project implemented by our partner CapeNature is currently finalising the 2015-2016 projects, the value of which is R2,6 million. These projects provide employment to 50 workers in the field. They are constructing gabion structures in the Duiwenhoks River and clearing invasive alien plants in the upper reaches of the Goukou River wetlands. The budget for the 2016-2017 financial year is R2,7 million.
On the Duiwenhoks River there is a dam called the Ertjiesvlei dam or Duiwenhoks dam. This dam supplies water to the towns of Heidelberg , Slangriver and Witsand, as well as the irrigation boards in the area of the dam and the farms on the way to Witsand. One kilometre up-stream of the dam is a massive erosion donga which is releasing sediment into the dam and resulting in it being silt-up and the water holding capacity being reduced. CapeNature is building a gabion structure to stabilise the peat wetlands. The rehabilitation of these wetlands is important in that water is the life blood of the people living in the area. Hence water security is an extremely important issue as without water there will be no food or jobs.
In addition, CapeNature is also clearing invasive alien vegetation in the Goukou River wetlands which is allowing the natural flow of the water to re-establish.