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Global community celebrates wetlands

South Africa today, 02 February 2018, joins the global community in celebrating the annual World Wetlands Day under the theme: “Wetlands for sustainable urban future.”

World Wetlands Day is an annual event that commemorates the signing of the Convention on Wetlands on 02 February 1971 in the Iranian City of Ramsar. The annual celebration is aimed at amongst others raising awareness on the benefits and importance of wetlands as a natural resource.

Wetlands are an important part of the ecosystem, as they provide a number of benefits, not only to the natural environment, but also to the people’s livelihoods. Such benefits include: reduction of flooding, replenish drinking water, filter waste, and provision of urban green spaces. 

In 2017 the Municipality spent R3.4 million on aquatic rehabilitation programmes. These included removing alien plant and litter from streams. Approximately 185 jobs were created through this programme.  Traders are also able to make and sell beads and straw mats from products found in the streams.

South Africa is currently experiencing drought. Wetlands, if sustainable, are able to reduce the impacts of droughts and floods by regulating stream flow. Furthermore, urban wetlands can provide cities with multiple economic, social and cultural benefits.

The recent National Biodiversity Assessment indicates that wetlands are the most threatened ecosystems globally, despite the services they provide. Wetlands in South Africa have enormous economic, social, cultural and environmental benefits. It is however sad to note that, to date, we have lost an estimated 50% of wetlands in South Africa due to unsustainable use and poor land management.

It is for this reason that governments, non-governmental organisations, civil society at large, communities and other stakeholders, engage in various activities with an aim to educate and raise awareness about the values, wise use and importance of wetlands. The ultimate objective is to protect and conserve wetlands for the benefit of current and future generations.

To mark the importance of World Wetlands Day, Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs,  Ms Barbara Thomson and Mayor Gumede will join thousands of residents at the official Wetlands Day Celebration scheduled to take place on Tuesday, 06 February 2018 at Umnini Thusong Centre in Umgababa.

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