On 22nd November 2016, the Department of Environmental Affairs: Working for Wetlands hosted a Wetland Delineation Training Course at Papenkuils Wetlands in Rawsonville, Western Cape. The training aimed to increase capacity of particularly the government sector within the Western Cape in recognizing wetland systems in order to improve government decision making around wetlands; particularly when commenting on development applications in the form of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Water Use License Applications (WULAs).
The training course was run by Donavan Kotze, a well-respected wetland scientist with more than 30 years of experience working with wetlands across the country, with the close support of Heidi Nieuwoudt of Working for Wetlands as well as Kate Snaddon, a private wetland consultant with over 20 years of experience.
The training was highly focused and only 10 individuals were invited to attend. These included representatives from the Breede-Gouritz Catchment Management Agency (BGCMA), Department of Agriculture and Forestry (DAFF), the City of Cape Town (CoCT), ICLEI- Local Governments for Sustainability as well as Overberg District Municipality (one of the Western Cape District Municipalities participating in the LAB: Wetlands SA project which aims to improve local government and citizen knowledge and understanding (at the individual, organisation and policy levels) of the value of biodiversity and wetlands).
The individuals attending the course (hereafter referred to as trainees) were shown how to identify and ground truth a wetland by assessing the soils and sub-soils as well as the associated wetland vegetation. The training was very hands on and each individual was given the opportunity to try their hand at auguring (a manual soil removal technique used to assist with the identification of wetlands). The trainees were also instructed in wetland plant recognition techniques and made aware of the various plant reference guides that have been published and are available online. The trainees were also shown how to identify the boundaries of wetland areas and delineate a wetland using a delineation technique developed by Donavan Kotze (“A practical field procedure for identification and delineation of wetlands and riparian areas”.
The training lasted approximately 6 hours and in that time the team of wetland experts conducting the training were not only able to share the most current techniques in wetland identification and delineation with the trainees but were also able to answer multiple queries of the trainees regarding delineation, wetland management, commenting on EIAs and in office desktop mapping.
From a LAB: Wetlands SA project perspective, the training provided a key opportunity to increase the knowledge and awareness of wetlands of key stakeholders working within Overberg District Municipality, facilitate an understanding on how to recognize and delineate wetlands, increase capacity on how to assess and comment on development proposals within or near wetlands as well as provide a crucial opportunity to meet key wetland specialists from the Western Cape who will be able to provide support and guidance for wetland management within Overberg District Municipality going forward. The training also connected Overberg District Municipality with the CoCt which opens the doors for future collaboration and further networking with other experts in the field.