Wetlands play a vital role in our daily lives

Posted on February 02, 2021

2 February is World Wetlands Day. This year’s theme is Wetlands and Water.

The Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Pretoria (UP) also celebrates this day and wants to increase awareness and support for the vital role that wetlands play in our daily lives.

Dr Natalie Haussmann from the Department of Geography, Geoinformatics and Meteorology (GGM) at UP, emphasises that we need to value wetlands.

In a recent paper by one of her students, Ms Reneé Grundling, in the South African Geographical Journal in December 2020 she explains that wetlands form part of a diverse range of habitats and play a crucial role in the ecology and hydrological cycle. They are also among the most threatened ecological systems.

Dr Van Deventer of the CSIR, who works closely with Dr Christel Hansen, also from GGM, echoes this. Dr Hansen highlights that wetlands offer multiple ecosystem services, with Ms Grundling saying that many countries rely on wetlands as a source of income through, e.g. ecotourism. Dr Van Deventer, however, points out that they are highly threatened and poorly protected according to the National Biodiversity Assessments of 2011 and 2018, with indications that their ecological condition is deteriorating. Furthermore, in a semi-arid to an arid country such as South Africa, freshwater ecosystems are a critical natural capital asset for water provision. Also, they act as sponges to promote infiltration to the groundwater, which during the dry season and droughts, prolong our access to water, while also serving as refugia for faunal species.

Every South African can contribute to reducing pressures on these systems, through lowering your water footprint, be selective in the products you buy, and reporting water leakages immediately.

Read more about World Wetlands Day:




- Author NAS
Published by Martie Meyer

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