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Review of available methods for the assessment of the ecological condition of wetlands in South Africa
Expanded Title:Directorates within the Department of Water Affairs (DWA) and other regulatory authorities (such as provincial environmental and conservation departments) require methods for the assessment of wetlands Present Ecological State (PES) and a Decision Support System (DSS) or Decision Support Tree (DST), in order to allow more effective and consistent decision-making with regard to the protection of wetlands. There are currently two main methods for the assessment of wetland Present Ecological State, which are being utilized interchangeably by the wetland assessment practitioners. Some wetland specialists identified gaps in these methods and supplemented the shortcomings by developing additional tools. This has created concerns about inconsistent standards of data collection, as well as reporting and therefore, about confidence in the assessments. A need existed for clear guidelines about which wetland assessment method to use, when and for what purpose. It is important to understand the limitations and gaps existing in the use of the wetland assessment tools as these have implications on decision making. The aim of this study was therefore to examine different wetland assessment tools, determine the difference, point out strengths and weaknesses, and then to produce a consolidated guide for South Africa. Two reports have been produced: Volume 1: A Decision Support Matrix (DSM) for the rapid assessment of wetland Present Ecological State (PES); and Volume 2: An overarching decision-support Framework for Wetland Assessment in SA. The separate modules from the WET-Health (Level 1) (TT340/09) and Wetland-IHI (KV171/05) assessment methods have been incorporated into the DSM, according to their relevance to different wetland types. While the use of the DSM, and of the existing methods included in the DSM (i.e. WET-Health and Wetland-IHI), are considered to be the best available options for the rapid assessment of wetland PES at present, there is clearly a dire need for the development of a single Wetland PES assessment method. It is also critical that DWA alert all wetland practitioners, of the existence of the consolidated method. It is recommended that a new Wetland Health Index method be developed in view of the weaknesses of the available tools.
Date Published:01/08/2014
Document Type:Research Report
Document Subjects:Ecosystem - Biodiversity protection
Document Keywords:Surface Water
Document Format:Report
Document File Type:pdf
Research Report Type:Technical
WRC Report No:TT 608/14
ISBN No:978-1-4312-0595-0
Authors:Ollis DJ; Malan HL
Project No:K5/2192
Document Size:1 962 KB
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