Evaluating and valuing wetlands in South Africa

We act as responsible stewards of the natural resources under our watch, including our landholdings in South Africa classified as inland wetlands. This FAQ explains how.

Why are wetlands important?

Wetlands are among the world’s most productive environments. With the increasing threat from climate change, they play a vital role in helping South Africa to mitigate global warming.

Wetlands sequester carbon from the atmosphere through plant photosynthesis and act as sediment traps for runoff. Carbon is held in the living vegetation as well as in litter, peats, organic soils and sediments that havebuilt up, in some instances, over thousands of years.

But that’s not all wetlands have to offer. On a global scale, they provide us with services worth trillions of US dollars every year – entirely free of charge – making a vital contribution to human health and wellbeing.

Pollution filtration
Wetlands improve water quality by removing pollutants from surface waters. As water from a stream channel or surface runoff enters a wetland, the water spreads out and flows through dense vegetation. The velocity of the flow is reduced, allowing suspended material in the water to settle to the wetland surface. The roots of wetland plants can then bind the accumulated sediments. As much as 90% of the sediments that are present in runoff or in streamflow may be removed if the water passes through wetlands.

Flood control
By slowing down rainwater runoff, wetlands help prevent sudden, damaging floods downstream.

Biodiversity richness
While wetlands cover a relatively small area of the earth’s surface, many of them are extremely rich in biodiversity.