Personal tools
You are here: Home eNewsletter Archives 2012 february2012 WORLD WETLANDS DAY: SAEON's long-term monitoring can be vital for Orange River Mouth
Research Publications

SAEON RESEARCH 

OUTPUTS 2006-2017

Log in


Forgot your password?

NRF logo

 

 

WORLD WETLANDS DAY: SAEON's long-term monitoring can be vital for Orange River Mouth

0101.jpg

The Orange River Mouth plays an important role as one of a limited number of wetlands along the arid Atlantic coastline of Southern Africa, providing habitat for breeding purposes or a stopover on migration routes for many wetland bird species.

0102.jpg

Conrad Geldenhuys of the Northern Cape Department of Environment and Nature Conservation (left) and SAEON’s Tshililo Ramaswiela (centre) and Dr Tommy Bornman conduct vegetation surveys at the salt marsh of the Orange River Mouth (Picture: Yolandi Els)

0103.jpg

Mr Klaas van Zyl of the Northern Cape Department of Environment and Nature Conservation facilitated a site visit to the Orange River Mouth for participants of the Orange River Mouth Interim Management Committee meeting (Picture: Yolandi Els)

Yolandi Els and Tommy Bornman, SAEON

On World Wetlands Day (2 February) this year, Dr Tommy Bornman, Manager of SAEON’s Elwandle Node and the team from SAEON’s Arid Lands Node attended a meeting of the Orange River Mouth Interim Management Committee (ORMIMC) in Alexander Bay, Northern Cape.

This committee is the driving force behind efforts currently underway to secure statutory protected status for the Orange River Mouth.

The Orange River Mouth and Estuary plays an important role as one of a limited number of wetlands along the arid Atlantic coastline of southern Africa, providing habitat for breeding purposes or a stopover on migration routes for many wetland bird species. Unfortunately, as is the case with most other wetlands in South Africa, it too has been severely affected by human activity.

The loss of approximately 300 hectares of salt marsh was the result of a combination of impacts, both at and upstream of the wetland. This loss led to a significant decrease in the number of water birds utilising the area, which consequently led to the estuary being placed on the Montreux Record of the Ramsar Convention (a record of Ramsar sites where changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring or are likely to occur). This implies that the Orange River Mouth may lose its status as a Ramsar site unless the condition of the salt marsh can be restored.

The protected status of the Orange River Mouth will enable the Northern Cape Department of Environment and Nature Conservation (DENC) to begin managing and rehabilitating the wetland.

A collaborative project between SAEON and DENC includes the management and dissemination of data through SAEON’s Data Management System, ensuring the provision of accurate and valuable data to the relevant decision makers tasked with managing the Orange River Mouth.

Long-term monitoring

Dr Tommy Bornman fulfils the role of a specialist advisor to the committee on appropriate rehabilitation interventions for the degraded salt marsh component of the system. His recommendations are based on long-term monitoring data of the estuary’s sediment characteristics and vegetation composition which was initiated in 2004.

The SAEON Arid Lands Node and Conrad Geldenhuys, a Botanist from the Northern Cape DENC, have joined forces with Tommy in a collaborative project to continue long-term monitoring of the estuary. This collaborative project includes the management and dissemination of the associated data through SAEON’s Data Management System, ensuring the provision of accurate and valuable data to the relevant decision makers tasked with managing the Orange River Mouth.

Quite fittingly, the first collaborative monitoring effort between SAEON and DENC took place during the week preceding World Wetlands Day and the ORMIMC meeting. In addition, SANParks coordinated a group of participants from the Working for Wetlands programme to visit the salt marsh area as part of an awareness initiative.

During their visit Yolandi Els, Coordinator of the Arid Lands Node had the opportunity to explain the importance of the Orange River Mouth and the pressures it faces, and to demonstrate to the visitors what hands-on environmental monitoring entails.

Document Actions