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The Rondevlei Nature Reserve Environmental Sciences Essay

As Centres of biological, economic and cultural diverseness, wetlands are among the most of import natural resources on Earth ( Lenart 2009 ) . Consisting 4-6 % of the Earth ‘s land country, these systems non merely supply multiple ecosystem services, but shop and sequester a significant measure of C in their dirts and flora. Internationally, wetlands store an estimated 300 to 700 billion dozenss of C, of which peatlands entirely keep some 550 billion dozenss ( Lenart 2009 ) . The storage and segregation of such volumes of C, suggest wetland to be a likely extenuation against clime alteration.

Despite the value and benefits derived from wetlands, a considerable volume of menaces tied to human activity threaten the unity and being of these systems. A important ground for the depletion and transition of such resources when faced with development determinations is the inability to asseverate accurate economic values while accounting for secondary branchings like pollution and hydrological alterations ( Barbier, Acreman and Knowler 1997, de Groot 2011 ) .

This survey serves to find the C storage potential the Rondevlei Nature Reserve and in making so, apportioning an extra value to wetland systems. Further surveies on a more comprehensive graduated table ( measuring multiple wetland countries including both anthropogenetic and natural/semi-natural systems modelled against several variables such as the degree of perturbation, wetland type and dirt type ) could promote the protection of wetlands more vulnerable to development.


To advance the preservation of wetland countries soon outside of formal protection under the scope of the NEMBA, by delegating extra value through C storage and segregation potency. This survey shall move as a pilot finding of the concentration of C stored in an actively managed wetland, amidst the mosaic of environing land utilizations within the City of Cape Town.

Further to appraisal of C storage potency of such wetlands, it may be possible to delegate a fiscal value to countries where storage capacity is high. The farther protection of such sites, would guarantee the unity of these systems, forestalling debasement and the ultimate release of COa‚‚ and methane gases into the ambiance.


The demand to apportion significance to wetland systems in order to emphasis their value and benefits is imperative. The findings of Nel and Driver ( 2012 ) in the first National Biodiversity Assessment: Technical Report of 2011, determined wetland ecosystems as the most threatened ecosystem type in South Africa, with 48 % of wetland types critically endangered. The finding and categorization of organic C storage and segregation potency among wetlands shall supply a farther point for consideration when measuring the importance of wetland countries and weighing their significance in the face of development determinations.

Although non soon implemented in South Africa, fiscal inducement strategies for the protection of wetlands, such as those being tabled for the understanding, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation ( REDD ) under the United Nations Frameworks Convention on Climate Change ( UNFCCC ) , may put farther importance on wetland countries.

Furthermore, the arrangement of wetland countries ( on in private owned land ) , with high C reservoirs into stewardship programmes supplying rates rebate inducements could turn out a suited chance for protection of these systems.


To find the C storage and segregation potency of wetland dirts of the Rondevlei Nature Reserve.

Aims to be determined as an result to the research include:

Does the determined C stored in the wetland, run into important degrees for preservation concern?

Would farther surveies of a similar nature output important consequences, utile to direction governments and decision-making?

Where are other wetlands compatible in features and wetland type, with that of Rondevlei Nature Reserve ( protected or non ) which may be considered for possible follow-up surveies to back up this one?


Rondevlei Nature Reserve is the identified survey country and encompasses an extent of 290 hectares. The modesty constitutes a flood plain wetland, happening on a low-lying country, on deep, acerb littorals, environing by coastal dunes. Invaded by reeds and cat’s-tail in parts, the site besides contains restios and sedges ( Snaddon & A ; Day 2009 ) . The site is characterized by reedbeds of emergent and submergent flora interspersed by unfastened H2O.


Wetlands are dynamic systems offering a battalion of of import maps. The EPA ( 2010 ) recognises several important functions of wetlands, including chairing the impacts from deluging, commanding eroding, sublimating H2O, and supplying home ground for fish and wildlife.

Wetlands can be defined as “ an country of fen, peatland or H2O, whether natural or unreal, lasting or impermanent, with H2O that is inactive or streamlined, fresh, brackish or salt, including countries of marine H2O the deepness of which at low tide does non transcend 10 meters, ” ( SANBI 2009 ) . These systems find their protection in the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands – the first intergovernmental pact, signed in Ramsar, Iran in 1971. Through the convention, South Africa, a signer hereof, agrees to keep the ecological character of wetlands within its districts.

While these provide noteworthy services for ecosystems and human-activities likewise, wetlands have are frequently misunderstood and were historically considered barrens, taking to their devastation ( Barbier, Acreman and Knowler 1997 ) . Threats include the infilling of these for industrial or residential utilizations ; the transmutation for agribusiness ; recreation of H2O beginnings upriver through technology of rivers, dikes and stormwater direction ; pollution ; waste disposal ; excavation and groundwater abstraction ( Barbier, Acreman and Knowler 1997 ) .

In malice of an increased planetary consciousness of the value and benefits provided by wetlands, through policy, pacts, research and instruction, a major ground for inordinate depletion and transition of wetland resources is the failure to delegate conventional market economic values in development determinations ( Barbier, Acreman and Knowler 1997, de Groot 2011 ) . This is farther exacerbated when secondary effects to economic development, such as pollution and biodiversity loss are non accounted for ( de Groot 2011 ) .

While supplying multiple local benefits and services, wetlands have over the last several old ages been assigned value of more planetary significance. Internationally, wetlands store an estimated 300 to 700 billion dozenss of C, of which peatlands entirely keep some 550 billion dozenss ( Lenart 2009 ) . The storage and segregation of such volumes of C, suggest wetland to be a likely extenuation against clime alteration.

The IPCC 4th assessment study on clime alteration defines clime in footings of the mean and variableness of temperature, precipitation and air current over a period of clip, runing over months to 1000000s of old ages ( IPCC 2007 ) . The alteration thereof, comes when the clime system evolves in clip through forcings, which are triggered by internal kineticss and alterations in external factors. External forcings are double, and consist natural happenings and human-induced alterations in atmospheric composing. Human activity over the past 100 old ages, of which the burning of fossil fuels and remotion of woods comprise the most important, has led to the addition of C dioxide ( COa‚‚ ) and H2O vapor in the ambiance. A 35 % addition of COa‚‚ in the ambiance since the clip of the industrial revolution has intensified the natural nursery consequence ( IPCC 2007 ) . This procedure, whereby H2O vapor and COa‚‚ act as a partial cover for longwave solar radiation, is amplified by human activity, forestalling the flight of much of this radiation back into infinite and warming the planet.

As a tool to extenuate clime alteration, wetlands sequester C from the ambiance through photosynthesis by wetland workss, every bit good as the subsequent accretion of C in the dirt ( Mitra, Wassmann & A ; Vlek 2005 ) . Converse to the gaining control and storage of C, wetlands besides let go of COa‚‚ and methane when degraded, which soon contributes to approximately 10 % of planetary COa‚‚ emanations ( Lenart 2009 ) .

Presently, wetlands are non officially considered as a extenuation tool baring fiscal inducement under the foremost pact on Climate Change, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change ( UNFCCC ) . The exclusion of wetlands from incentive understandings like the programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation ( REDD ) in developing states, has the possible to cut down the purchase of planetary pacts such as the Ramsar Convention in the modern political docket ( Lenart 2009 ) .

Whilst international pacts remain of import in act uponing the policy of signatory states, the latter remains important in the preservation of wetlands. At a local planning degree, the City of Cape Town formalizes the protection of wetlands in its legal power, through their categorization and prioritization ( Snaddon & A ; Day 2009 ) . Of the 7677 wetland countries mapped in and around the metropoliss ‘ boundaries ( anthropogenetic and natural/semi-natural ) , 2011 autumn within Critical Biodiversity Areas and have increased protection through local policy.

The Rondevlei Nature Reserve ( RNR ) is a 290Ha nature modesty under formal protection of the National Environmental Management: A Biodiversity ActA ( NEMBA ) ( No. 10 of 2004 ) . Within its confines, the modesty supports a diverseness of biology including 278 works species, 237 bird species, 21 mammal species and a battalion of amphibious vehicles, reptilians, fish and insects species ( City of Cape Town 2008 ) . Consisting an actively managed wetland, the RNR provides a suited survey country, to find the C storage potency and what findings may intend for planning of wetlands outside of protected countries.


Wetlands shop C both above- and below-ground in works affair, H2O, the root substrate and dirt ( Robarts 1999 ) . While H2O and implicit in deposit can be associated with microbic procedures, works and carnal populations likely dominate C activity ( Robarts 1999 ) .

Two distinguishable actions can be determined when sing the C in wetlands. Robarts ( 1999 ) recognizes C inputs as mechanisms leting for C soaking up, whilst C end products are means for the release thereof. Input signals are both direct and indirect, of which a important bearer is H2O. Land and surface H2O overflow, every bit good as precipitation all contain degrees of organic C, which can be assessed through the usage of piezometers and chemical analysis.

The soaking up of atmospheric C occurs by aquatic macrophytes, phytoplankton and sessile algae, while air current can lodge C in dirt ( Robarts 1999 ) . The farther feed-in of C can be contributed to come up and dive action by wildlife and recreational users.

Carbon outputs taking to the release of C include the dislocation of dissolved O content by sunshine ( photolysis ) . Other end products include the release of nursery gases as a effect of alimentary cycling in the H2O of the wetland, and weave action to H2O ( Robarts 1999 ) . The devastation of wetlands is a important action taking to the release of methane into the ambiance ( SOCCR 2007 ) .

Sing all of the above countries of gaining control, storage and release of C, it was decided, sing the allocated timeframe and graduated table of this honours undertaking, to concentrate on the ability of dirt to hive away dirt organic C. The choice of one specific parametric quantity shall ensue in a moderate to high degree of hazard and uncertainness as to the significance of the findings and how these interrelate with other C storage vass like H2O, works biomass and root substrate.

The consideration for the measure of N and phosphoric, temperature and UV radiation on the C processes and beginning of C inputs and ouputs shall nevertheless be considered by the measurement of these factors in research lab analysis and mensurating on site ( Robarts 1999 ) .

The sampling of dirt organic content shall be achieved through the undermentioned attack:

Three trying secret plans, each of 50 by 50 meters ( 0.5 hectares ) will be determined through systematic sampling. These will be located on the Bankss of the H2O organic structure in countries from 0 – 1 meter under H2O.

In each of these trying secret plans, twelve nucleus samples will be taken along three randomly established transects running from the wet-marsh to the other border of the sampling secret plan ( Euliss, Gleason, Olnes, McDougal, Murkin, Robarts, Bourbonniere and Warmer 2006 ) . These samplings will be collected through the usage of an plumber’s snake ( 5cm in diameter by 30cm length ) to a deepness of 30cm. Each sample with by composed of two increases, a 0 to 15cm and a 15 to 30cm. An extra set of 3 dirt nucleuss to a deepness of 30cm will be collected to find the majority denseness ( entire solids per unit volume ) .

Water temperature and UV incursion will be measured and observed on site and farther analysis will be done in the research lab.

The dirt nucleus samples shall be analysed by the CentralA AnalyticalA Facility ofA Stellenbosch University. Using the LECO theoretical account CN2000 analyzer, the per centum organic C, bulk denseness ( g/cmA? ) , dirt C denseness ( kgC/mA? ) and C content per profile shall be determined. From this information it will be possible to generalize the entire Carbon per hectare, dirt C stock, the mean dirt C stock and the difference in mean C stock between samplings. In add-on, the N and P degrees of the dirt shall be tested.

The mean entire C per trying secret plan can be extrapolated to the entire size of the wetland country, which was antecedently determined suited ( countries up to 0.5 m under H2O ) . Further to this, the majority denseness of the dirt can be extrapolated and determined for the site.

A comparing of C content of the two facets of the samples ( 0 to 15cm and 50 to 30cm ) shall find what the difference is in C content, bespeaking where the higher concentration occurs.

The survey is a nonparametric and shall consist a individual sampling event per trying secret plan.

The concluding measures of dirt organic C shall be compared against the Danone Fund for Natures ‘ Qualitative ‘decision support tool ‘ ( DST ) matrix for C offset possible in different wetland types ( 2010 ) .

The farther reappraisal and appraisal of trying methods, guidelines and criterions shall be undertaken before a concluding methodological analysis is determined, prior to informations aggregation.


The continuance of the undertaking shall cross from 15 June 2012 – December 2012.

A proposed work agenda is as follows:

1 – 15 July 2012

The information aggregation shall take topographic point in early – mid July 2012. Consequences from samples shall be available by the terminal of July 2012.

August 2012

Consequences finding and readying of the research shall be undertaken in August.

September 2012

Amendments to the bill of exchange research paper shall be made before entry in late September 2012.

October to December 2012

Critique shall be incorporated into a concluding alteration and alterations to the research paper shall be made before concluding entry.