Threats to Wetlands

South Africa’s wetlands are the most threatened ecosystem in the country, the National Biodiversity Assessment 2011 (NBA 2011) has found.  KwaZulu-Natal, North West and Gauteng were expected to have no natural vegetation outside of protected areas by 2050.



Wetlands have been reduced or destroyed to build houses and cities for human use, as the world population increases. Wetlands are used in agriculture, to plant rice and catch fish, disturbing and overusing the resources in it. Dumping pollutants can have devastating effects on the water quality and the organisms that depend on it.


Building huge dams have stopped or reduced the flow of river water into wetlands, which may lead to the extinction of many aquatic species. Even smaller dams may reduce the flow of water into wetlands. Large amounts of pollutants have damaged wetlands and organisms that depend on it. Did you know? In 2012 South Africa ranked as third best in the world out of twelve countries where water is safe enough to drink out of taps.