UPDATES TO THE WET-HEALTH AND WET-ECOSERVICES SUITE OF TOOLS AND HOW THIS WILL INFLUENCE WETLAND ASSESSMENTS IN SOUTH AFRICA
The WET-Health and WET-EcoServices tools came into being out of a need to establish a baseline ecological condition and functional importance of wetlands prior to any potential impacts by proposed developments. According to Macfarlane et al (2007; 2020) ecological condition of Present Ecological State (PES) refers to:
‘The current state, compared to reference or best state, for the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of an ecosystem’.
In broad terms, functional importance refers to a wetland’s ability to provide ecosystem goods and services inclusive of the following (Macfarlane et al, 2008; 2020):
Provision of water for human use
Provision of harvestable resources
Food for livestock
Provision of cultivated foods
Cultural and spiritual experience
Tourism and recreation
Education and research
The WET-Health and WET-EcoServices tools were developed in 2007 as part of a comprehensive wetland management programme which was initiated by the Water Research Commission (WRC) in 2003 which focused on wetland rehabilitation, wetland health and integrity and sustainable of wetlands (Macfarlane et al, 2008). Both tools form part of the WET-Management series which provides a host of tools for the origins, assessment, management and rehabilitation of wetlands.
Implications for wetland assessments in South Africa
All wetland practitioners will need to be trained in the use of the updated tools.
Wetland practitioners will need to be well versed in the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in order to accurately map the landcover classes.
Wetland practitioners will need to have a strong understanding of the interpretation of aerial imagery in order to correctly identify landcover classes.
Wetland monitoring programmes that utilised the previous methodologies will continue using those methodologies to ensure the results are comparable. Future wetland monitoring programmes will need to make use of the updated methodologies.
References Macfarlane DM, Kotze DC, Ellery WN, Walters D, Koopman V, Goodman P and Goge C. 2007. WET-Health: A technique for rapidly assessing wetland health. WRC Report No TT 340/08, Water Research Commission, Pretoria.
Kotze DC, Marneweck GC, Batchelor AL, Lindley DS and Collins NB, 2007. WET-EcoServices: A technique for rapidly assessing ecosystem services supplied by wetlands. WRC Report No TT 339/08, Water Research Commission, Pretoria.
Kotze DC, Macfarlane D, Edwards R. 2020. WET-EcoServices Version 2: A technique for rapidly assessing ecosystem services supplied by wetlands and riparian areas. WRC Project k5/2737, Water Research Commission, Pretoria. Macfarlane DM, Ollis DJ and Kotze DC. 2020. WET-Health (Version 2.0) A Refined Suite of Tools For Assessing the Present Ecological State of Wetland Ecosystems. WRC Report No TT 820/20, Water Research Commission, Pretoria.