World Wetlands Day is celebrated every year on 2 February. This day marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea.
Every year the Zandvlei Nature Reserve hosts this programme which is to make the community aware of the value of Wetlands. The schools in the South visit the Reserve for the programme and this is thanks to the Zandvlei Trust, who sponsor transport for the schools to attend the programme which comprises the following:
- What is at a Wetland?
- The value of Wetlands
- How does a Wetland function?
- Concern in a Wetland
- Food chain
Every learner is provided with a work sheet and any writing material they may need.
The lesson also includes an activity – the learners are divided into smaller groups and each group has to build a wetland and report back to the educators.
Mark Arendse, the coordinator of the programme and in charge of Environmental Education says “I would not be able to run the programme alone and am assisted by the staff and interns and F Q level 2 students”.
With the remainder of Lotto funding of some years ago, Zandvlei Trust has been able to continue paying the transport by bus of these learners from their schools to the Reserve and back. In 2018 twelve groups from the following local primary schools – St Mary’s, Levana, Harmony, Christian David Moravian, Zerilda Park, Capricorn, Prince George and Lourrier (some schools bringing groups over two days) with a total of over 600 learners came to the Reserve and had the benefit from this exciting project where they learnt about the importance of urban wetlands.
For more information about WWDay – http://www.worldwetlandsday.org/
Urban wetlands: prized land, not wasteland – Reduce flooding
Wetlands act as giant sponges that absorb flood waters. Rivers, ponds, lakes and marshes soak up and store heavy rainfall. In coastal cities, salt marshes and mangroves work as a buffer against storm surges.
Replenish drinking water
Groundwater aquifers, rainwater and rivers are the source of almost all drinking water. Wetlands filter the water that seeps into aquifers, helping to replenish this important water source. Protecting rivers and limiting harmful run-off also helps safeguard the water supply.
Filter waste and improve water quality
The silt-rich soil and abundant plants in wetlands function as water filters, which absorb some harmful toxins, agricultural pesticides and industrial waste. Urban wetlands also help treat sewage from households.
Improve urban air quality
Wetlands radiate moist air thanks to their high water levels and lush plant life. This naturally cools the air in the local surroundings; a relief both in tropical cities and in extremely dry climates.
Promote human well-being
When preserved as green spaces in cities, wetlands offer residents a space for recreation and access to diversity of plant and animal life. Studies confirm that interacting with nature reduces stress and improves our health.
Enable people to earn a living
Many types of fish spawn and breed in wetlands, making them popular fishing grounds. Wetlands provide reeds and grasses for weaving, medicinal plants and fruits; all valuable goods for local residents. Wetlands also attract tourism, another important source of employment.