Are the ‘building blocks’ of South Africa’s wetland restoration working? A focus on the integrity and functioning of structural interventions

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Craig Cowden

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While it is recognised that the metric of success for wetland restoration is derived from multiple components, within a South African context two aspects are considered critical, namely: 1) integrity and functioning of structural interventions, and 2) land user engagement and aftercare. The importance of structural interventions towards achieving wetland restoration success suggests that these ‘building blocks’ be carefully considered and monitored using a reliable tool. Existing tools for assessing the success of wetland restoration applied at various sites across South Africa were found to be lacking in terms of guidance and consideration of different intervention types.  Through Water Research Commission funding, an updated check sheet was developed in collaboration with the Working for Wetlands programme. This check sheet was applied at multiple sites to evaluate the integrity and function (towards meeting predefined objectives) of structural interventions. Through these evaluations, trends were identified relating to the integrity of different types of interventions and their success within different wetland hydro-geomorphic settings. The study found that concrete and gabion structures were most often adopted as interventions across the study sites with concrete generally requiring less maintenance than other intervention types. With the adoption of earthen structures, a review of land use was identified as being critical to understand whether livestock trampling will pose a threat. Recurring issues affecting the structural integrity of the different types of interventions were identified. These have been highlighted and fed back into the planning and implementation process to improve future wetland restoration efforts.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

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Society for Ecological Restoration