MEC Anton Bredell encourages public participation on Estuarine Management Plans in Western Cape

MEC Anton Bredell encourages public participation on Estuarine Management Plans in the province.
Anton Bredell, Western Cape MEC of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (DEA&DP) today said the public is invited to give inputs in 29 Estuary Management Plans (EMP), developed for estuaries in the Western Cape.
This is in terms of the National Estuarine Management Protocol.
Bredell said: “The Western Cape Province has numerous critically endangered and vulnerable ecosystems.
Estuaries and wetlands provide ecological infrastructure functioning that are important in delivering ecosystem services.
It is important to ensure that any development that takes place is situated outside of the Estuarine Functional Zone, to allow estuaries to flourish and function effectively.”
“It is essential to balance the protection of these natural ecosystems on the one hand, with the economic potential we can derive from them, on the other hand.
Estuaries can only be of value to us if we value them appropriately,” Bredell added.
The Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning is responsible for 15 of the 29 draft EMPs that have been published for comment, with CapeNature responsible for 14 of the draft EMPs published.
These plans set out to co-ordinate and manage the various activities and impacts that occur within the estuarine functional zone.
For prioritised estuaries, this could ultimately lead to declaring them protected areas or special management areas to protect specific habitat types found in these ecosystems.
Marlene Laros, Director for Biodiversity and Coastal Management at DEA&DP said: “The protection of our estuaries is not only important for conserving the many fish, bird and animal species that call it their home but also from mitigating the effects of climate change.
They are also of immense economic and social value, being essential to fisheries, recreation and ecotourism.”
Estuary habitats, such a salt marshes, peatlands and wetlands, are considered “blue carbon” habitats and sinks, “So when these ecosystems are damaged, an enormous amount of carbon is emitted back into the atmosphere which exacerbates global warming,” Laros said.
There are 54 estuaries and 38 micro-estuaries in the Western Cape. Estuaries have high diversity of species, and according to the National Biodiversity Assessment (2018),(link is external) 27% of the 66 species assessed are threatened with extinction and a total of 265 000 waterbirds have been lost from South African estuaries since the 1980s.

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