Working for Wetlands in South Africa

Introduction

South Africa is a semi-arid country with an average annual precipitation of 497mm – significantly lower than the global average of 860mm. This means that peatlands occur mainly in the wetter eastern and southern parts of the country. Evapotranspiration exceeds precipitation in most parts and peatlands are therefore groundwater dependant.

Description

Wetlands, including mires and peatlands, have been extensively used as an agricultural resource in South Africa. Practices such as damming, draining, cultivation, pasture and overgrazing have severely degraded about 50 % of the country’s wetlands. For example: •The Palmiet (Prenomium serratum) fens in the Cape Fold Mountains are eroding due to overgrazing in the catchment area and the drainage of the peatlands for orchids. •Drained peat swamp forests are used for banana plantations in the rural communities on the eastern subtropical coastal plain. •In the Highveld plateau, peatlands are burnt and dried out as a result of timber expansion (e.g. Eucalyptus) or irrigation schemes.

Project Aims

The South African government has acknowledged that wetlands provide valuable ecosystem services, and has recognised that a high level of wetland loss and degradation occur in the country. A wetland rehabilitation initiative called Working for Wetlands was established within the South African National Biodiversity Institute. It is the vision of Working for Wetlands to facilitate the conservation, rehabilitation and sustainable use of wetland ecosystems, in accordance with South Africa's national policy and commitment to international conventions and regional partnerships. Working for Wetlands combines the provision of work, training and opportunities to the poorest of the poor with the rehabilitation of wetlands. During 2004-2013 the programme received a budget of about US$63million and created around 15,000 jobs (resulting in two million actual person days of work and 190,000 days of training) with women comprising approximately 60% of the work force. Working for Wetlands combines proactive preventative measures (e.g. erosion control) with remedial interventions (e.g. rewetting) and focuses on the conservation of 20 peatlands. Rather than focusing exclusively on engineering solutions, the project aims to raise awareness and influence behaviour and practices that have an impact on wetland habitats. The aim is to maximise opportunities with respect to ecological integrity, water and food security, human well-being and poverty alleviation. The programme comprises of five key areas: 1.Wetland rehabilitation 2.Partnerships 3.Communication, education and public awareness 4.Capacity building 5.Research and planning

Site Activity

Rehabilitation and good management of wetlands, such as peatlands, can generate multiple benefits, including poverty alleviation, combating of land degradation, maintaining biodiversity and mitigating climate change. Recognising this, and even though peatlands only make up a fraction of South Africa’s wetlands, 40% of all rehabilitation projects undertaken by the Working for Wetlands Programme have targeted peatlands or their catchments.

{"zoom":6,"lat":-30.559482,"lon":22.937506}

Project Name: Working for Wetlands in South Africa

Organisation / Lead partner: Working for Wetlands

Predominately: Upland

Join our team
We are recruiting - closing date 19th August 2020  We are recruiting for a Peatland Code Co-ordinator and a Communications Officer…
Sustainably sourced Sphagnum growing, harvested to produce dried Sphagnum (BeadaGro™) and mixed with other peat-free products to create a sustainable growing media.
Peat-free products - protecting peatlands, climate, gardening, pot-plants & salad.   By Jacqueline Wright, Business Development Manager, Beadamoss®
Sphagnum moss harvesting at trial site, Greifswald Mire Centre © Tobias Dahms
Wet agriculture - a tool in the climate action toolboxWith the urgent need to reduce our carbon emissions wherever possible, complimenting traditional…
Money for peatland restoration
Budget announcements for UK peatland restoration Peatlands received a welcome funding boost in the UK Budget 2020.  In a move to support the…
Peatlands in the EU post CAP
Peatlands in the UK beyond Common Agriculture Policy (CAP)The IUCN UK Peatland Programme continues to feed into the international peatland agenda, recently…
Afforested peatland restoration at Forsinard  © Neil Cowie/RSPB
Peatland & Trees position statement releasedThe IUCN UK Peatland Programme have released a position statement and recommendations on Trees on…
Caithness Wildfire, 2019 © Paul Turner
Burning & Peatlands Position StatementThe IUCN UK Peatland Programme have updated our position statement on Burning and Peatlands which…