Applying an adaptive management approach to a wetland rehabilitation project using an urban South African wetland as an example

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Matthew Janks

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The uMhlangane River, located in Durban, South Africa, is a highly polluted system that has a significant impact on water quality within the downstream estuary and Durban’s swimming beaches. For this reason, the portion of the uMhlangane River Floodplain located within an area of private open space owned by the Riverhorse Valley Business Estate, was chosen for a wetland rehabilitation project pilot study. The aim of the rehabilitation was to improve the hydrological and vegetation components of the wetland in order to enhance the overall integrity and ecosystem service provision of the system. An adaptive management approach was adopted during the implementation phase of the project, whereby regular ongoing monitoring and implementation support was undertaken by wetland ecologists and engineers. This provided a mechanism for the wetland engineers and ecologists to identify unanticipated enhancements to the rehabilitation plan that were not identified during the rehabilitation planning phase of the project.  After completion of the rehabilitation activities, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife identified suitable habitat at the Riverhorse Valley wetland for the release of Pickersgill’s Reed Frogs that were captive-bred at Joburg Zoo.  This frog species, listed as ‘Endangered’ by the IUCN, is endemic to central coastal KwaZulu-Natal.  The introduction of these frogs to the Riverhorse Valley wetland and other sites will contribute to achieving the aim of increasing population size and connectivity between populations, and ultimately leading to the frog species being listed as Least Concern.

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Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

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Society for Ecological Restoration