KNYSNA NEWS - #KeepUrbanWetlands is this year’s theme for World Wetland Day (which is today, Friday 2 February), making a case for the protection of wetlands in urban settings.
Residents and visitors are encouraged to visit wetlands protected by SANParks in the Garden Route National Park. Bird hides are open in Wilderness for bird watching including Malachite, Rondevlei and Gallinule.
The naked eye cannot see wetlands absorbing water like a sponge and slowly releasing it to various areas. During this time, wetlands absorb pollutants and also purify water, ensuring better water quality is released elsewhere.
Wetlands provide a wide range of ecosystem services including the regulation of stream flow essential for water security; flood attenuation; flood protection and sediment control. The degradation of the catchments in which wetlands occur is as much of a problem as the outright loss of the freshwater habitats themselves, as systemic degradation reduces the ability of freshwater ecosystems to effectively perform their natural functions and recover from environmental shocks and stresses.
In addition, wetlands protect our shores and reduce impacts of floods. They also provide habitat for animals and plants and contain a wide diversity of life.
The picturesque waterscapes of Wilderness alone attract many International visitors, for their visible beauty from the N2. They meander a stone’s throw away from the town of Wilderness. Uses of land in the Garden Route include protected areas (also Goukamma Nature Reserve managed by CapeNature), the national park (protected terrestrial), marine protected areas, natural, water, plantations, urban, mining, cultivation and others, according to the SANParks Global Environmental Change Assessment (2016).
Three Lakes in the Wilderness Lakes system, made up of Rondevlei, Langvlei and Eilandvlei, is a Ramsar site (wetland of global significance). The selection criteria for Ramsar sites are specified by the Ramsar Convention, also known as the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance. They consider factors including but not limited to ecology, botany, zoology, limnology and hydrology.
The site in Wilderness includes a dune system with associated thickets, woodlands, marshes, and reedbeds. Important numbers of migrant and resident birds as well as staging and breeding birds use the site. It is home to 285 native plant species, 32 fish species (several of which use the site as a nursery area), and a diverse marine invertebrate fauna.
Birds in the area include grey heron, kelp gull, little egret, black- winged stilt, white-breasted cormorant, great crested grebe, yellow-billed duck, Cape shoveller, red-knobbed coot and others.
#KeepUrbanWetlands is this year’s theme for World Wetland Day, making a case for the protection of wetlands in urban settings. Residents and visitors are encouraged to visit wetlands protected by SANParks in the Garden Route National Park. Bird hides are open in Wilderness for bird watching including the Malachite, Rondevlei and Galinule hides.
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