As part of ICLEI’s LAB Wetlands SA Project, Eco-Pulse Consulting, a KZN-based private consulting firm, has partnered with Amathole District Municipality (ADM) to support the district with wetland mapping and rehabilitation. The goal of the project is to contribute to enhanced wetland management by improving the spatial wetland inventory in selected areas, and building capacity within the municipality in such a way as to contribute towards development, with a focus on wetland management and rehabilitation.
The initial phase of the project has been completed and involved undertaking a desktop regional prioritization exercise to identify priority areas in ADM in which mapping and future wetland rehabilitation activities can be directed. From this exercise the wetland rich catchment upstream of Xilinxa Dam in Mnquma Local Municipality (a local municipality within ADM) showed promise as a priority area for investment in wetland rehabilitation. Due to its strategic location within the district, the Xilinxa Dam is considered to be one of the most important dams within ADM for ensuring water supply across the district and enhancing water security. A field trip to this catchment was undertaken to assess the viability of the site for further investigation.
The first day of the field trip included a visit to the Xilinxa Dam and multiple stops at wetland sites within the catchment along the way. In attendance were representatives from Eco-Pulse Consulting as well as a good contingent of municipal representatives from ADM. This portion of the field trip served to demonstrate the extent of erosion in the Xilinxa Dam catchment and highlighted the marked effect this erosion was having on sedimentation within the dam downstream resulting in a significantly decreased carrying capacity of the dam. The need to implement initiatives to address catchment erosion to help safeguard the future supply capacity of the dam was confirmed. All left this visit in agreement that rehabilitation of wetlands within this catchment is critical and that additional complimentary initiatives should ideally also be initiated in order to address broader issues of erosion and land management.
Much of the second day of the field trip was spent assessing potential rehabilitation sites within the catchment upstream of the Xilinxa Dam. These sites had been provisionally prioritised using the aforementioned desktop assessment undertaken prior to the field trip. Site visits further highlighted the extent of erosion and associated wetland damage in the catchment. This assessment also revealed challenges to wetland rehabilitation in the catchment, largely due to catchment impacts, the depth of erosion gullies, the presence of dispersive soils (that are prone to erosion) and potential social challenges linked with management of livestock. The outcome of this assessment was that opportunities for rehabilitation do exist within the Xilinxa Dam catchment, however the practical feasibility and approach for intervention will need to be confirmed with input from an engineer.
The remainder of the second day and most of the third day was spent driving through the Mnquma Local Municipality. The objective here was to better understand the extent, distribution and types of wetlands in the Mnquma Municipality. The knowledge gained through this exercise will be used to enable Eco-Pulse Consulting to initiate the process of wetland mapping. This process entails desktop wetland mapping and typing of wetlands within the Mnquma Local Municipality. This will be followed by a rapid assessment of wetland present ecological state (PES), to better understand the status quo of wetlands, followed by prioritisation and selection of sites for rehabilitation. The last phase of the project entails developing a detailed rehabilitation plan for one prioritised wetland within the catchment.