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‘Destruction of wetlands a concern’

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“Action must be taken to stop this killing of our wetlands.”

THE NORTHERN Cape MEC for Agriculture, Land Reform, Rural Development, Environment and Nature Conservation, Nomandla Bloem, said that the disappearance of wetlands in the Province was cause for concern

Speaking during World Wetlands Day celebrations in Barkly West last week, Bloem said that according to the latest Global Biodiversity Assessment, wetlands were disappearing three times faster than forests.

“Wetlands are home to countless plants and animals that are part of a fragile balance where water and land become one. About 40 percent of the world’s species live in wetlands,” said Bloem.

“We have various wetlands in the Northern Cape, including Kamfers Dam in Kimberley, which is home to the lesser flamingo, The Eye in Kuruman, Hakskeenpan in the Kalahari, the Orange River mouth in Alexander Bay and Verneukpan in Calvinia.”

Bloem stated that the National Biodiversity Assessment indicated that 79 percent of wetlands in the country’s ecosystem are threatened.

“We have a big challenge and it is because of human interference and the poor management of our wetlands. We are destroying our wetlands by our irresponsible actions, such as using wetlands as dumping sites for waste and plastic pollution, which undermines the flood absorption and water storage capacity of our wetlands.

Pollution

“There is a lot of overgrazing, over-abstraction of water, over-harvesting of wetland resources, poor agricultural methods and different types of pollution among others.

“Action must be taken to stop this killing of our wetlands.”

Bloem added that a waste summit would be hosted in Kimberley from March 12 to 13, where it is hoped that lasting solutions can be found to the problem of waste.

“A summit will also take place on March 19 in Kimberley to find innovative ways to address the effects of climate change in the Province.

“We need local government, businesses, community members and pupils to partner with us to prevent further loss of wetlands and restore those that were lost and that we still have.

“The management and restoration of wetlands must form part of municipalities’ management plans. Municipalities can also establish environmental awareness campaigns to constantly sensitise the public about the importance and the value of wetlands.”

Bloem encouraged local communities and schools to adopt wetlands in their areas, keep them clean, and prevent water wastage and report the destruction of wetlands to the authorities.

“The harvesting of rainwater can ease the pressure on our water sources, when we stop littering and polluting our wetlands.”

Bloem said that during a site visit in January, she noted that the water level at Kamfers Dam was rising. It is hoped that flamingos will start building new nests on the western edges of the pan during the breeding season.