Hannes Marais, the Wetland Scientist in Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency’s Aquatic Unit reports back on last year’s Indaba held in Limpopo.
The National Wetlands Indaba (NWI) is an annual event that has been held since 1996. It started when a small group of wetland practitioners recognized the importance of bringing together all people involved in wetland related matters. The aim being to discuss issues, share experiences and explore solutions, with the vision of ensuring a more secure water resource in South Africa through appropriate wetlands management.
Attendees to the NWI include National and International academics and researchers, private environmental consultants, conservation authorities, Water Boards, representatives from three spheres of government, non-government organizations, students, private citizens, business and industry.
The nine provincial wetland forums each get a turn to host the Indaba in their province. This gives each Province the opportunity to be able to share unique aquatic systems and challenges with other wetland practitioners.
This year the Indaba was hosted by the Limpopo Province in Tzaneen from the 07th -11th of October and the theme was “Wetlands and climate change”. Cohosted by the Limpopo wetland forum and the South African Wetland Society.
There were a 150 attendees over the five-day period with 56 presentations, including report back from all the Provincial forums, poster sessions, workshops and field trips. Since 2018 all attendees become part of the South African Wetland Society.
The Indaba is structured so that there is enough time to network with other co-workers and scientists in the field and to get hands-on experience of the latest findings and techniques used in wetland preservation and monitoring.
The field trip to the Baleni hot spring wetlands in the Greater Giyani municipal area was exciting and served as a scientific and cultural experience. Baleni is the name of the geothermal spring and a small oval swamp, about a hundred meters from the Klein Letaba River.
The area is a declared natural heritage site and due to this unique ecosystem, the indigenous Tsonga community extracts a sacred salt following ancient ancestral traditions.
Many thanks to Hannes Marais for permission to reprint this article from the MWF (Mpumalanga Wetlands Forum) Feburary 2020 Newsletter