Westlake schoolchildren learnt about the important role of wetlands in the ecosystem and conservation groups cleaned up along the Westlake River for World Wetlands Day on Thursday February 2.
Westlake Primary School pupils and residents attended the “Wasteland to Westlake Wetlands” event held by Ithemba for Westlake Co-operative and Nature Connect with support from other organisations, including the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa, the City and the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE).
Apart from supporting a wide diversity of animal life, wetlands help to purify water and regulate water flow, reducing the impact of droughts and floods. However they’re also some of the most threatened ecosystems, and, according to the DFFE, South Africa is believed to have lost about half of its original wetlands.
A 2011 study of South Africa’s wetlands led by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (Sanbi) noted that the country’s remaining 300 000 wetlands cover just 2.4% of the country, and 48% of them are critically endangered.
”It is our duty as a society to come up with solutions that will sustain our community and enable us to contribute directly towards sustainable development,“ said Henyang Meschack Nchupetsang, from Ithemba for Westlake Co-operative, as he outlined conservation efforts at the Westlake wetlands.
During a clean-up of the river, several endangered western leopard toadlets were found.
“The celebration of World Wetlands Day at Westlake was a significant step in promoting awareness about the importance of wetlands and the conservation efforts being made,” said Kim Gordon, from Nature Connect.