This wonderful episode from the wonderful permaculture series investigates wetlands. The location for this episode is Scarborough which has a brilliant display of wetlands. It must be noted that the total area of the wetlands in the whole earth covers areas larger than the USA.
By doing so, wetlands help Keep River levels normal and filter and purify the surface water. Wetlands accept water during storms and whenever water levels are high. When water levels are low, wetlands slowly release water. Wetlands also release vegetative matter into rivers, which helps feed fish in the rivers.
If you have toured Cape Town you may remember Scarborough, an eclectic village of about 400 homes in ‘Schusterskraal’, a bay on the Atlantic coast, the last settlement before the Cape of Good Hope. It is surrounded by nature reserve with the Cape Peninsula National Park to the south and the Baskloof Nature Reserve rising on the steep hills behind. To the north is the imposing peak of Misty Cliffs.
With the term “Wetland” being one that has a very broad variety of definitions, this week we are focusing on the marshy/swamp wetland type. We get some brilliant explanations on how to recognise wetlands and how to determine its status. Water must be present during the growing period of wetlands and it is essential to support life.
Luckily in South Africa there has been a lot of success regarding the protection of Wetlands.
Wetlands are our natural assets and natural infrastructure able to provide a range of products, functions and services, free of charge. Despite being high-value ecosystems they make up only a small fraction of the country. Once considered valueless wastelands that needed to be converted to other uses in order to improve their usefulness to people, many governments around the world, including South Africa, were still providing farmers with incentives to convert their wetlands for agriculture as recently as the 1970s.
The South African government policy reflects the recognition that, in order to be truly effective, strategies for wetland conservation need to include a combination of proactive measures for maintaining healthy wetlands, together with actions to reverse past degradation. This latter aspect forms the core business of a government-led wetlands programme. It is wonderful that the government of South Africa preserve the wetlands and mangroves and truly recognise their importance.
Learn about Hydrology, wetlands, mangroves and everything in between in this episode.
By Alex Mitchison