Wetlands provide a range of essential services, including water regulation, flood control, and habitat for biodiversity.
However, South African wetlands face threats from human activities such as pollution, urbanisation, agriculture, and water resource extraction.
It is crucial to raise awareness about the value of wetlands and the steps needed to protect them.
The event aimed to raise awareness about the vital role wetlands play in the ecosystem and was attended by the Westlake Primary learners and community members.
The keynote speaker, Henyang Meschack Nchupetsang from i-Themba for Westlake River Friends group, gave a brief history of the site and highlighted the conservation efforts that have been made so far and the plans for the wetland’s future.
Meschack stated, “It is our duty to look at our society and come up with solutions that will sustain our community and enable us to contribute directly towards sustainable development.”
Nature Connect’s Sustainable Schools team led an interactive lesson with the Westlake Primary School learners about wetlands, teaching them about their crucial role in the ecosystem. The Nature Care Fund team also cleared invasive species and removed litter from the river, emphasising the importance of conservation efforts. The Councillor for Ward 71, Carolynne Franklin, showed her support and got her hands dirty by helping pick up trash.
The team also found several Western leopard toad juveniles in the section where they were working. This endangered specie is known to breed in the river but is more noticeable in the Kirstenbosch area.
The event was supported by partnerships with i-Themba for Westlake Recycling Depot group, WESSA, FynbosLife, City of Cape Town (CCT) Urban Waste Management, CCT Biodiversity Department (Zandvlei Nature Reserve and Table Bay Nature Reserve teams), CCT Water and Sanitation Directorate, Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Westlake Primary School and the Westlake United Church.
The celebration of World Wetlands Day at Westlake was a significant step in promoting awareness about the importance of wetlands and the conservation efforts being made. By educating the community and engaging them in wetland activities, the event emphasised the vital role wetlands play in healthy ecosystem functioning and aimed to inspire local children and community members to take pride in their natural heritage.
World Wetlands Day provides a platform for raising awareness about the importance of priority biodiversity areas such as wetlands and their role in the ecosystem. This event was made possible through partnerships and community involvement. It was a successful step towards exposing local youths to the challenges that natural habitats face in the urban environment, the importance of protecting these vital ecosystems, and ensuring a healthy and sustainable future for all.
Through this event and others to come, they aim to spread the message that it is possible as a community to come together and make a positive difference not only towards sustainability but also in the lives of those who call this area their home.