More than a billion people make a living from wetlands.
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is conducting research aimed at protecting, enhancing and rehabilitating wetlands in South Africa.
Coinciding with World Wetlands Day celebrated yesterday, the CSIR said local wetlands were of concern and were important in the environmental, planning and the water sectors.
Thus, the CSIR is committed to conducting science that is crucial in properly understanding the link between wetlands and these sectors to ensure sustainability, as these sectors may have far reaching impacts on wetland ecosystems.
This year’s World Wetlands Day theme aims to help spread awareness about the importance of wetlands and to demonstrate the vital role they play in securing a future for humanity.
“A sound and defensible scientific base is needed to evaluate the significance of threats on wetlands and how to potentially limit or mitigate these threats,” said Leanie de Klerk, CSIR researcher specialising in aquatic ecotoxicology and limnology (inland waters).
“Sustainable development, utilisation and the management of wetlands is non-negotiable for improving the quality of life and human health in South Africa.”
According to the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable utilisation of wetlands, more than a billion people make a living from wetlands.
Livelihoods from fishing, rice farming, travel, tourism, and water provision all depend on wetlands.
Wetlands, however, are currently under threat of over utilisation for short term benefits, thereby compromising their ability to sustain the provision of benefits for human beings and the environment in the future.
Unfortunately, wetlands are often viewed as a wasteland.
In South Africa, a considerable threat to the sustainability of wetlands is contamination through pollution.
The CSIR is working hard in ensuring the sustainability of wetlands in South Africa.
Along with the Water Research Commission, Coaltech and the South African National Biodiversity Institute (Sanbi), the CSIR recently pooled together their resources and skills to rehabilitate a portion of the Zaalklapspruit Wetland in the Mpumalanga Province.