Landscaping for wetlands
Celebrate 2018 World Wetlands Day by appreciating the ecological and investment importance of landscaping wetlands into property developments across South Africa.
World Wetlands Day is celebrated annually on February 2, a day marking the adoption of the Convention of Wetlands, known as the Ramsar Convention, held in Iran in 1971.
The aim of the day is to create awareness around these important eco-systems and to highlight the need to increase the number of functioning wetlands across the world.
The theme for World Wetlands Day 2018 is Wetlands for a Sustainable Urban Future. As the world population grows, more people move into cities to find work. Around half of the world’s population live in urban areas, a number that is expected to rise to 66% by 2050.
“When preserved and sustainably used, urban wetlands can provide cities with multiple economic, social and cultural benefits”, says Martha Rojas Urrego, Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. “Wetlands are prize land not wasteland and therefore should be integrated into the development and management plans of cities.”
Enhancing urban wetlands. Installing boardwalks across a wetland in Constantia, Cape Town. Project: Marina Landscaping. Pic: Kay Montgomery
Why invest in wetlands?
“Wetlands form vital links or stepping stones in the chain of water supply in urban areas across South Africa”, says Cape Town-based landscaper, Norah de Wet of Peninsula Landscaping, who is currently serving as National Chairperson of the South African Landscapers’ Institute (SALI).
“They act as natural sponges that hold water during rainy seasons and reduce the danger of floods and soil erosion. Wetlands slowly release water during dry periods, often mitigating drought relief efforts in otherwise dire situations”, she adds.
Landscaping with wetlands
“If you have space to construct a natural wetland on your property, there are many benefits”, says Rudi Jonck, a Durban-based landscaper with Servest, currently serving as Regional Chairperson of South African Landscapers’ Institute (SALI) in KwaZulu-Natal.
Why should you construct or rehabilitate wetlands where ever you can? Jonck explains the following:
* Low cost. Wetlands are one of the least expensive treatment systems to operate and maintain because they possess highly efficient biological systems that effectively remove contaminants without the addition of expensive chemicals or extra energy requirements.
* Water can be stored. Grey water in holding tanks must be utilised within 24 hours or bacteria and microbes will start to grow and can pose certain health risks. Grey water that is filtered through a wetland can be kept in a storage dam until needed or until the dam reaches its capacity.
* Adds value. Wetlands are aesthetically pleasing, and constructed wetlands can be designed to benefit the landscaping of the property or golf course.
* Provides a habitat. Wetlands also provide habitats for animals and birds and contribute to the environmental stewardship of any property.
Purifying water. A wetland is planted up at Inanda Greens, a golf estate in Johannesburg. Project: Bidvest TopTurf.
“Perhaps the biggest benefit of landscaping with wetlands is that they increase the value of your property” says Doreen Aucamp of Leitch Landscapes in KwaZulu-Natal.
‘Wetlands not only provide an ecological habitat for the biodiversity of a particular area but they also are a valuable environmental resource that can be used to clean polluted water”.
“Studies conducted on wetlands have revealed that they provide an effective method for removing chemicals and heavy metals from water. If a golf course adjoins an urban area, wetlands on the golf course can cleanse and harvest storm water runoff from a neighbouring source”, she adds.
Managing the storm water on your property is now essential. SALI landscapers are now experts in biological effluent treatment (constructed wetlands, bio-filters and polishing ponds), water wise strategies, as well as wetlands and riparian rehabilitation.