Joburg Wetlands & River Systems

Integrated Catchment Management (ICM) Unit

Integrated Catchment Management is defined as a comprehensive approach that aligns multiple objectives in a river basin across different spatial scales and temporal dimension. It is a form of co-management approach with various stakeholders in an area to be able to deliver locally determined goals.

ICM principles for good practice (Bissette et al. 2009) state the following:

  • Integration – common issues are identified
  • Collaboration – stakeholders agree on actions/goals
  • Adaptation – planning process can respond to change

The above takes into consideration integrated aquatic resource management, transitional aquatic management, protection actions against undesirable effects on ecological sensitive areas and lastly the prevention, control or eradication of introduced species.
 

Introduction in JCPZ Context

The Integrated Catchment Management (ICM) Unit is under Ecosystems Enhancement and Open Space Management Department (EOD). ICM is responsible for management and maintenance of all the water bodies across the City of Johannesburg along the Jukskei and Klip river/Klipspruit. Catchment ICM oversees the integrated catchment management which covers the management and maintenance of water courses through the implementation of the following operational activities:

  • Reeds control/ Wetlands rehabilitation: Wetland management plays a critical role flood control, shelter for biodiversity, breeding habitat for aquatic animals and birds
  • Aquatic / Terrestrial alien plant control: Alien plants control plays a critical role on a better quality of life and enjoyment whilst providing for the ecosystem, improving ecological and biological functioning, security and biodiversity
  • River trails maintenance:  assist with improving aesthetic, reduces fire hazard, increase the vigour of grass, etc.

Therefore, ICM key delivery focus areas include the following:

Urban impoundment management (Bio-Aquatic Services)

Improve photosynthesis, increase water oxygen levels, increase abundance of aquatic macro invertebrates, reduce siltation, etc.

Management of ecological areas outside protected areas (Ecological Services)

Improves quality of life based on: well managed natural built environment, provision of ecological goods and service: clean and healthier river systems

Impact and Benefits of ICM are as follow:
  • Strengthening relations with the relevant stakeholders and adjacent communities
  • Improvement of intergovernmental relations (locally, provincially and national)
  • Illegal dumping sites are cleared and pest infestation such as rodents is discouraged.
  • Healthy and safe environments are created.
 

What are wetlands?

The Ramsar Convention explains wetlands as any land or area that has water either permanently or seasonally, as well as beaches and shallow coastal areas, thus covering all inland wetlands like ponds and marshes, estuaries, mangroves, lagoons and coral reefs.

World Wetlands Day is celebrated internationally on 2 February to mark the date of the adoption on the Convention on Wetlands that took place on the same date in 1971 in Ramsar off the Caspian Sea.

The theme for this year is aligned with the new Sustainable Development Goals and the important role wetlands play in our future as human beings.
 

Benefits of wetlands and humans:

  • Wetlands produce rice and this source of food is the staple diet of nearly 3 billion people - half the world's population. It is grown in wetlands across Asia and west Africa.
  • We use a wealth of natural products from wetlands, including fish and shellfish, blueberries, cranberries, timber and wild rice.
  • Protecting wetlands can protect our safety and welfare as humans because wetlands safe guard us from storms and they store flood water
  • Some medicines are derived from wetland soils and plants
 

Benefits of wetlands and the environment:

  • Wetland ecosystems are often undervalued and yet they provide a range of products derived from freshwater habitats.
  • These complex habitats act as giant sponges, soaking up rainfall and slowly releasing it over time.
  • Wetlands are like highly efficient sewage treatment works, absorbing chemicals, filtering pollutants and sediments, breaking down suspended solids and neutralising harmful bacteria.
  • Many species of birds, fish, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians rely on wetland habitat for breeding, foraging, and cover. The special wetland conditions provide unique habitat for species that cannot survive elsewhere.
 

Characteristics of wetlands

  • The permanence and seasonality of their moisture regime
  • Permanent wetlands are mostly located near open water bodies such as lakes and rivers.
  • Permanent wetlands consisting of papyrus and other sedges, reeds, and floating plants.
  • A significant share of seasonal wetlands is used for crops.
  • The economic and subsistence uses of wetlands vary with land cover and whether they are seasonal or permanent.
 

Types of wetlands found in SA

  • Coastal wetlands
  • Shallow lakes and ponds
  • Marches and swamps
 

Threats to wetlands

  • Overutilization of wetlands resources
  • Pollution
  • Uncontrolled agriculture
  • Uncontrolled burning
  • Construction of dams, embankments and walls in wetlands
  • Development e.g. building of houses or roads
  • Mining activities e.g. sand and minerals mining
  • Spillage or discharge of chemicals, waste water and raw sewer into the wetland
  • Drainage of water for irrigation purposes
  • Illegal dumping on wetlands
 

How to conserve wetlands

  • Do not dump waste/rubble in wetlands
  • Adopt a wetland stream, maintain and monitor it.
  • Communities and schools must be custodians of wetlands by being vigilant against any element that could threaten their existence
  • Be involved in education, protection and restoration of wetlands
  • Refrain/discourage/speak out against actions harmful to the wetlands
  • As a school adopt a stream and constantly monitor pollution
  • Clean up wetlands near you
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