Working for Wetlands, KZN North

Apr 9, 2009

 Assess the current and two new wetlands within the KZN North project area
Date: April 2009

Requesting organisation: 
Working for Wetlands
Northern KwaZulu Natal
William O’Driscoll

The survey team for the KZN North mission, which included Bateleurs pilot William O’Driscoll (on the right), and Doug McCulloch and Trevor Pike, Engineer and Area Manager, respectively, for Land Resources International.

KZN North by William O’Driscoll

“We were tasked with flying to four different wetlands. Co-ordinates had been given to me a while earlier in order to plan the flight efficiently. The total distance covered was 366 nm witha total flying time of 4hrs 24 mins. Fortunately, my C172r has a 5,5 hr endurance and is ideal for these types of flights. With 10 degrees of flaps, the loitering speed is about 70kts. Combined with a high wing, it is an ideal viewing platform.
The first wetland we visited, called Paddavlei, is approx 100nm from ‘Maritzburg and about 19 nm west of Dundee. Our aim was to assess its condition and establish whether or not it required rehabilitation. A further 35 nm to the north east we flew over Bloodriver and Lynspruit. Bloodriver is the larger wetland of the two and until recently it had been damming up so that in winter this dam would dry up and all the vegetation would die. Having been rehabilitated, this wetland is now in pristine condition. The farmer on whose property this wetland is located would previously have had to provide feed for 1000 head of cattle during winter. The wetland now provides more than sufficient grazing in winter and no feed needs to be brought in. The fourth wetland we visited was Aloeboom about 20nm east of Vryheid. This was situated close to an anthracite mine and it needs some cleaning up. There is clearly some dumping taking place at its source which will eventually clog the entire system.  Trevor and Doug were very happy with the info they had gathered and we headed back to Pietermaritzburg. In a straight line from there, we flew directly over Greytown and were able to see the massive Umvoti Vlei, also a wetland system.  In summary, it is pleasing to see that the Dept of Agriculture is backing these rehabilitation programmes for wetlands. This mission was a great opportunity to learn something about our environment that we would not normally consider.”

KZN North by Trevor Pike

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This photo shows a number of oxbows downstream of the Bloodriver wetland

“The focus of this survey was to assess the current wetlands within the KZN North project area (within the V32G quaternary catchment) as well as assess two new wetlands that had been identified by members of the KZN Wetland Working group, namely the Paddavlei wetland (within the V60D catchment) and the Aloeboom wetland (within the W22A catchment). The objective of the flight was to confirm that all the work had been completed within the V32G project area, as well as to investigate the potential for wetland rehabilitation within the two new wetland sites. A total of 4 new wetlands were identified during the flight, all of which had potential for wetland rehabilitation. The Paddavlei wetland had the largest potential for rehabilitation due to the presence of numerous drains that are having a significant draining effect on the wetland.  The flight confirmed that work within the current project area (V32G) is nearing completion and no new sites were identified. On the whole, the flight was highly effective in reducing the otherwise difficult and lengthy process of identifying problems by vehicle or on foot, as well as eliminating the need to identify and contact landowners (to request permission to enter their property) within the project areas.”

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