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Hundreds celebrate World Wetlands Day Print E-mail
21 February 2013

 worldwetlands2

A group of about 200 pupils from primary schools around Johannesburg attended an intensive three-hour lesson on the importance and value of wetlands. 
 
The programme, held at the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens in Emmarentia, formed part of the World Wetlands Day during which communities are every year sensitised on the importance of wetlands. 
 
One of the attendees, Andile Sibeko from Westbury Primary School, said she had learned how to look after and save “water animals because they provide us with food and also ensure that the water we drink is suitable for human consumption”.
 
The City has for some time now been running programmes to educate its residents about the importance of wetlands. A number of outreach programmes have been introduced both to share valuable information on wetlands and to ensure their preservation wherever they are found within the municipal boundaries. 
 
Jenny Moodley, the spokesperson for Joburg City Parks, said there had been a number of instances in which residents had complained about the presence of wetlands in their areas, suggesting that these be done away with.
 
Their main concern was centred on issues such as security because of the high reeds and grass usually found in them, said Moodley. 
 
“Though we appreciate their concerns we, however, feel that to a large extent, these fears are driven by a lack of knowledge on the importance and value of wetlands.” 
 
Moodley said it was important to find a balance between the fears people had and the value derived from wetlands.
 
The City focused its attention on pupils because they were future leaders.
 
“We want them to appreciate the contribution made by wetlands and how important these sites are to our lives,” she said. 
 
Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo’s Conservation and Environmental Executive, Tshepang Makganye, said World Wetlands Day was observed by most sectors of the community, including scientists, politicians, environmentalists, farmers and developers. 
 
Makganye said the ingredients required for a healthy wetland included the following:
• Hydrology (an amount of water present for a certain period);
• Plants that are adapted to wet soil; and
• A special type of soil known as hydric soil, which has low oxygen levels because it is under water.
 
He said wetlands provided important hydrological functions, such as groundwater recharge, water quality improvement and flood alleviation. The health of wetlands depended on the quality and quantity of water that reached them, he said.
 
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