Estuaries of the Overstrand
Estuaries form the critical link between our inland catchment areas and the ocean. The habitats in these ecosystems are totally dependent on freshwater flows during the rainy season, as well as the inflow of seawater when the estuary mouth opens. Species that inhabit estuaries are specially adapted to live in changing salinities (salt levels in water), as well as changing water temperatures.
However, South Africa’s estuaries are facing many pressures at the moment. They are among the country’s most threatened and least protected ecosystems. Yet estuaries provide immense benefits to society. Freshwater flowing from rivers through estuaries into the sea is essential for coastal and marine food production, livelihoods, and tourism, as well as for climate change resilience. By properly managing our coastal and marine biodiversity, South Africa can maintain these vital freshwater flows that reach the coastal areas.
Estuaries truly demonstrate this interconnectedness and symbiosis between land and sea. If we take care to protect and restore our estuaries, they will deliver multiple benefits, such as water and food security, not to mention tourism and recreation, and as habitats for threatened endemic species. Furthermore, they are an important factor in reducing the risk of natural disasters.
GUIDED OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES
Stanford Wetland Walk
Whale Coast Conservation’s team Thembisile Mangali and Jo-Hann Plaatjies did a tour at Stanford Mill Stream for 10 nature lovers. On that rainy day the 5th of September, they led the group along the paths that Sile and Jo-Hann created in the wetlands.
Jo-hann started the talk explaining to group why they put in the gabion below the overflow pipe. The purpose is to reduce the l polluting chemicals in the water, which is why we test the water at the overflow pipe as well as below the gabion. They then moved to the picnic area on the other side of the overflow pipe where Sile explained what the importance of the reed cutting and how this keeps the reeds in an optimum growth phase, further absorbing nitrates and phosphates from the water. Sile also explained that the cut reed material is used to make compost and animal feed. Sile talked about clearing of alien invasive plants in the Mill Stream to stop them from sucking up excessive water.
The group moved to the education area where Sile and Jo-hann explained how Whale Coast Conseration is utilising the area for outdoor EE events. Additionally Die Bron School learners regularly pick up litter there. We are hoping to that greywater will be diverted from the Waste Water Treatment Plant next to the school eventually, to irrigate the school grounds. At present the school cannot afford to pay for irrigation water.