Working for Wetlands 03 of 2010 – Maputaland in KZN

May 19, 2010

MISSION  16  of  2010

Name of Mission: Working for Wetlands 03 of 2010 –  Maputaland  in KZN
Date of Mission: 19 May 2010
Pilot: Chris Rattray 
Passenger:  Piet-Louis Grundling
Objective of Flight: To determine the status of wetlands on the Maputaland Coastal Plain

Report by the beneficiary:     Piet-Louis Grundling

Piet-Louis Grundling (Ixhaphozi ES), Chris Rattray (Bateleurs pilot), Carl Myhill (iSimangaliso Wetland Authority) , and Stefan Kruger (Eastern wetland Rehabilitation)

The GIS coordinator for iSimanagliso Wetland Park, Carl Myhill, was joined by the implementer for the Maputaland project, Stefan Kruger, and Piet-Louis Grundling (Wetland specialist) to fly this mission with Bateleur pilot Chris Rattray. We took off from Richards Bay Airport on a clear day with excellent conditions for an aerial survey. These good conditions prevailed and we ended up refuelling for a second session. During the 1st part we mainly covered the Mfolozi Flood plain, The False Bay catchment and Mkuze Floodplain, as well as the Eastern Shores. The Mbazwana swampforests (or what remains of it), the Muzi-north system to Kosi Bay was covered in the second part

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The wetlands investigated during the flight were mainly valley channelled and unchanneled valley bottom   wetlands, floodplains and swamp forests. The False Bay catchment wetlands were prioritise for 2010/11 phase 2 investigations as severe headcut, gully and rill erosion are posing a threat to the health of the system. More impacts were identified in Kleinspan section of the  Mkuze Floodplain (rehabilitation is already underway in parts of this system). Impacts in this wetland include headcut and gully erosion, berms and drains as well as extensive cultivation. Impacts in swamp forests were mainly related to slash and burn practices, draining and cultivation and the Mfolozi Floodplain with sugar cultivation (drains and river channelization), whilst the Eastern Shores looked in good condition after removal of plantations, but some of the roads might have fragmentation and stream interruption effects.

This mission was a great success. Not only were an adequate number of wetlands and problems identified to be investigated for 2011/12, it also gave the team a better perspective on the extent and variety of wetlands on the coastal plain. The willingness of the pilot, Chris Rattray to exploit the optimal weather conditions was especially appreciated.

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