Gap analysis, baseline resource assessment and high-level mapping of wetlands within West Rand District Municipality

As part of ICLEI’s LAB Wetlands SA Project, Prime Africa has been appointed by ICLEI to perform a gap analysis of all possible resources and desktop level identification and classification of wetlands within West Rand District Municipality.

Management of wetlands within municipalities across South Africa is often hampered by capacity, funding and institutional challenges. In order to address these, the West Rand District Municipality (WRDM) is implementing the Local Action for Biodiversity: Wetlands South Africa (LAB: Wetlands SA) project, with support from ICLEI Africa. The USAID funded LAB: Wetlands SA project aims to ensure the protection of priority natural wetland resources, thus enabling the supply of ecosystem services, and promoting resilient communities and sustainable local economies under a changing climate within South African local governments.

One of the key gaps affecting wetland management in the WRDM is the lack of a consolidated spatial map indicating wetland localities. Without addressing this identified gap, the municipality’s ability to protect wetlands from further degradation is limited. In addition, effective strategic planning around agriculture, mining and social empowerment initiatives is significantly curtailed.

Towards overcoming this limitation, Prime Africa is performing a gap analysis of all possible resources and desktop level identification and classification of wetlands within West Rand District Municipality.

The Prime Africa team, through close consultation with key members of the WRDM, have been working towards this goal since November 2017. Through data mining, consultations and spatial analysis, they have developed a preliminary data catalogue of wetlands in WRDM.

Initial results show that only 9 500Ha of wetlands were formally identified through existing spatial datasets. Deemed a gross underestimation of wetland extent in the almost 400 000Ha study area, the region was methodically investigated to identify additional wetlands. 66% of the WRDM has been completed to date, and approximately 12 000Ha additional wetland extent has been identified. Upon completion of the updated inventory, all wetland features will be classified based on their hydrological, climatic and geomorphological characteristics, as well as their significance in the socio-economic and environmental landscape.

The final results will provide an improved high level understanding of the localities, risks and threats to wetland resources in the WRDM. The results will further provide a platform from where a low level assessment of functionality, condition and type of wetlands can be developed in the WRDM. The benefits to the municipality will additionally include (but are not limited to):

  • Improved wetland decision making by officials;
  • Improved decision processes around the awarding of environmental authorisation and approvals;
  • Improved local, regional and national conservation planning initiatives i.e. Bioregional Plans; and
  • The streamlining of urban and rural planning initiatives.
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