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Profiled Projects

Wetland Management Guidelines: A contribution towards capacitating local government:

‘ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability’ is a global network of local and regional governments committed to sustainable urban development. ICLEI aims to support and empower local governments through providing capacity building, technical services, networking opportunities and urban solutions.

The Local Action for Biodiversity: Wetlands South Africa (LAB: Wetlands SA) project, which is a USAID funded project implemented by ICLEI, is aimed at improving local government knowledge and understanding of the value of wetlands, initiating the process of integrating wetlands and ecosystem services into local government planning and decision making, and implementing and piloting on the ground wetland projects within participating municipalities.

To further the aims of the project ICLEI appointed Eco-Pulse Consulting to develop Wetland Management Guidelines for South African municipalities. Compiling this guideline document involved consolidating best-practice information and working with a range of municipalities and service providers to provide a comprehensive suite of practical guidelines to inform wetland management at the local government level.  The resulting 300-page document has been widely distributed and provides detailed guidance on a range of aspects including: (i) the value of wetlands; (ii) the mandates and powers of municipalities related to wetland management; (iii) how to develop a strategy to improve wetland management; (iv) how to develop a wetland inventory; (v) how to prioritize important wetlands and wetland interventions; (vi) rehabilitating and enhancing wetland values; (vii) best practice measures for managing development impacts on wetlands; (viii) how to set up wetland monitoring and enforcement capacity; and (ix) how to proactively incorporate wetland management objectives into municipal planning. The guideline was specifically aimed at capacitating local government staff with little background in wetland management including town planners, engineers, environmental officers, municipal administrators, department managers and policy makers.

Kigali Wetland Rehabilitation:

Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda, surrounds a vast network of broad valley bottom wetlands. Historically, little investment has been put towards preserving and restoring Kigali’s wetlands, despite these ecosystems representing a natural capital base that supports the city with vital ecosystem services. However, an increase in the understanding of the benefits of nature-based solutions in addressing contemporary urban issues has led to interest in the role wetlands can play in the future of Kigali City. To this end, Pegasys, an independent advisory group focusing on transformative development in emerging economies, has provided technical support to the World Bank in investigating opportunities for investment in wetland restoration in Kigali City. Doug Macfarlane (Eco-Pulses Principle Scientist) was a key member of the Kigali investigation team as the lead Wetlands Expert. In this role Doug was for responsible for identifying and screening opportunities for investment in wetland restoration in Kigali City.  This included reviewing available information, undertaking site visits and liaising with key governmental stakeholders to investigate wetland restoration options and alternatives.  This culminated in the development of a preliminary investment plan with associated costings as part of an application for international funding for wetland restoration in Kigali.   Stuart Dunsmore, another member of the Urban Rivers Alliance has subsequently joined the project, and together with Eco-Pulse are providing further technical support to the World Bank team by guiding further rehabilitation planning for priority wetland restoration sites in Kigali City.

Developing guidelines for Wetland Offsets in South Africa:

Doug Macfarlane (Eco-Pulse Consulting) was initially appointed by the SANBI Grasslands Programme as the project leader to develop a preliminary best-practice guideline for wetland offsets in South Africa. When this initial project ended in 2012, SANBI continued to engage with stakeholders to refine and customise the approach. Doug was then involved again in reviewing revised drafts of the document and in developing a wetland offset calculator to accompany the guideline. The guidelines have since gone through a thorough review process with key inputs from regulating authorities including the Department of Water and Sanitation. A series of workshops were also convened by DWA to allow stakeholders and opportunity to reflect and comment on the draft guidelines. Whilst already in use, it is anticipated that these guidelines will be finalised and formally endorsed in 2015. Anyone interested in obtaining and applying the draft guidelines should contact Stephen Holness, the SANBI coordinator for the Grassland Programme (Email: sholness@nmmu.ac.za).

Developing a guideline for the determination of buffer zones for rivers, wetlands and estuaries:

How far a development should be set back from aquatic ecosystems has been a contentious issue for some time. This led to a directed call from the Water Research Commission for assistance in developing appropriate guidance for the local South African context. The Institute of Natural Resources was then appointed to undertake this work with Doug Macfarlane responsible for leading the project. Following his move to Eco-Pulse, Doug then teamed up with the INR and other team members to finalise the development of a guideline and tools for buffer zone determination. This task was fraught with much complexity but has led to the development of a relatively straight-forward tool that can be used to set scientifically defensible buffer zones. Whilst the tool has undergone initial testing, further testing and consultation is planned for 2015. This is likely to include a number of National Workshops, funded by the WRC which will allow development sectors, government officials and other interested parties an opportunity to engage with and to provide feedback on these draft guidelines. Copies of the report and supporting documentation will soon be available from the Water Research Commission (orders@wrc.org.za or download from www.wrc.org.za)