Berg River Estuary officially declared a wetland of international importance

Posted on 15 February 2022 By David Henning

The Berg River Estuary near Velddrif was declared a Ramsar site under the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance on World Wetlands Day, 2 February 2022, making it South Africa’s 28th wetland to receive official protection.

The 2018 National Biodiversity Assessment found that 79% of South Africa’s wetland systems are under threat, with 48% critically endangered, with over 70% having no formal protection. The Ramasar protection of one of South Africa’s most vital wetlands is long overdue.

‘The declaration of South Africa’s 28th Ramsar site is an indication of the importance of conserving and protecting these unique environments that are considered super ecosystems because of their contribution to the provision of water and because they provide habitats to a large variety of migratory birds, especially water birds,’ Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE), Barbara Creecy, said.

A Ramsar Site is a wetland site declared to be of international importance, and ensures that it will be overseen under a management framework aimed at conserving its future generations. The estuary’s headlands are found in the Franschhoek mountains, an area that receives more than 3 000 mm of rainfall area, the highest in the country.

The estuary’s area spans 1 162 hectares and forms one of only four stories found along the West Coast, and encompasses five major wetland types of importance to 250 species of waterbirds and one of the largest populations of Cape cormorants.

According to the DFFE’s statement, even though estuaries only comprise 2% of South Africa’s territory, they contribute an estimated R4.2 billion to the economy annually.

Major threats to South Africa’s wetlands include over-extraction, pollution, invasive plant species and climate change.

Picture: Getaway Gallery


Getting intimate with Velddrif, the capital of the West Coast



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