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Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo

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The importance of wetlands was put high on the agenda when Johannesburg City Parks & Zoo (JCPZ), the City of Johannesburg’s custodian of greening initiatives, celebrated World Wetlands Day with more than 100 learners and community environmental ambassadors at Alberts Farm on Wednesday February 15.

Groups, organisations and individuals involved in the day’s educational exhibitions included Alberts Farm Conservancy, the Department of Fisheries and Forestry, Friends of Kloofendal, Miss Earth, Water Wise, Delta Environmental Centre and Gauteng Forest Operations.

Learners from schools such as Sedilaka Primary, Oracle Secondary, Riverlea Primary, Northcliff High, Qoqizizwe Primary, Kliptown Primary and Kaalfontein Primary used the day to soak up as much knowledge as possible about the importance and biodiversity of wetlands.

They also enjoyed interactive and educational exhibitions and took part in discussions about the significance of wetlands and the critical importance of conserving and preserving them.

JCP&Z Chief Operating Officer Buki Njingolo said preserving and conserving wetlands were key to ensuring a better tomorrow.

“Wetlands are often perceived as marshes, swamps or areas for dumping. But these water bodies, which may be natural or artificial, reduce the impact of floods, absorb pollutants and improve water quality. This year, we urge communities to refrain from using our wetlands as dumping grounds,” said Njingolo.

She said pollutants such as human waste, plastic and litter clogged and disrupted the natural water flow, which inhibited the wetlands’ ability to collect fast-flowing storm water at a slow measured rate and then releasing it back into the river system in its most purest form.

alberts farm

“Dumping in our wetlands subsequently affects service delivery as additional resources are used to remedy it. Bird life is sustained through healthy wetlands, providing local tourism, recreational opportunities, including boating, fishing and bird watching. So, damaging wetlands in effect damages our chances of a brighter future,” said Njingolo.

Senzo Nyembe, JCPZ’s General Manager of Ecosystems Enhancement and Open Spaces Management, said wetlands were an integral part of the Johannesburg landscape.

He said JCPZ managed over 740ha of wetland, 300ha of water catchment, 40ha of seasonal wetlands, 280ha of tributaries; 80ha of dams, 107km of rivers and 40ha of reeds. He said all these water systems were crucial in ensuring a clean and healthy city.

“Studies show that wetlands are a possible tool in the remediation of sites affected by acid mine drainage, a contentious topic worldwide.

“Acid mine drainage triggers excessive damage to the environment, soil, wildlife and natural resources through the release of toxic chemicals and heavy metals, with the unsightly residue of mine waste pits or open mine dumps tarnishing our natural landscape.

“We have found through research how wetlands are able to purify acid mine drainage water and reduce its acidity,” added Nyembe.

Riverlea Primary School learner Keanu said he gained knowledge about the environment. “Today I learned about things that really do affect me. Wherever I went I saw wetlands but I was not aware of their importance,” he said.


Dineo of Qoqizize Primary School said it was interesting to learn that many plant and animal species depended on wetlands and ecosystems. “I had no idea how, as humans, we are reckless and damage these sensitive environments.”