Wetland Rehabilitation in Gauteng: Opportunities & Constraints by Retief Grobler:
It was only in the latter portion of the previous century that the importance of and need to protect wetland ecosystems was recognised. Until recently wetlands were regarded as wasted spaces that were generally ill suited for conventional agriculture and thought fit only to breed mosquitoes and other disease carrying animals. Different societies and cultures have been reclaiming and transforming wetlands into more useful land types for centuries, as these ecosystems were and still are in direct competition with humans for space and water. What remains therefore tends to be transformed and few truly pristine wetlands persist, especially in areas where human settlement has been long and/or concentrated. Why then do we regard wetlands of value now and why do we try and rehabilitate them in transformed urban landscapes, such as Gauteng? In addition, what do we strive for in terms of wetland rehabilitation and what are the selection parameters currently applied?
Retief, is a MSc Botany student at the University of Pretoria, currently researching subsistence farming in peat swamp forests of the Kosi Bay Lake System. He has been working as a wetland ecologist in Gauteng, involved in wetland-related rehabilitation, inventory, education, and consulting. His interests also include a broad scope of disciplines associated with wetlands, such as vegetation, geomorphology, soil science, hydrology and geology. Peatlands are especially close to his heart. He is married to a plant taxonomist working at the South African National Biodiversity Institute.