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IRENE, Pretoria
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What does the Mondi Wetland Programme do?

MWP works nationally to conserve wetlands predominantly outside nature reserves. Most of the country’s wetlands in fact lie outside protected areas so MWP’s interventions are of vital importance. MWP promotes the wise use and rehabilitation of palustrine wetlands – these are predominantly wet meadows, marshes and floodplain wetlands. MWP’s interventions take place at both grassroots and political decision-making levels: it works with commercial farmers, government agricultural and conservation extension services, historically disadvantaged rural communities, and key decision.

In order for the Programme make its biggest impact on wetland conservation, the MWP has to concentrate its work not just on the physical destruction and rehabilitation of wetlands, but also on the root cause of it. This included a lack of awareness, capacity, knowledge, responsibility and the political will to do something about it. The MWP is striving towards its goal of bringing about social change that encourages wetland users and owners to manage their wetland resources in a more environmentally relevant manner.

 It does this by working with three focus groups:

  1. Government (national and provincial Departments of Environmental Affairs, Water Affairs, and Agriculture).
  2. Historically disadvantaged rural communities (in Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga Provinces)
  3. Industry (plantation forestry and sugar).

 Implementing four strategies for engagement with these focus groups:

  1. Communications: Creates awareness about wetlands to make people aware of the crucial importance of wetlands through gaining publicity in the mass media and hundreds of staff presentations.
  2. Lobbying: Persuades key decision makers to realise the importance of wetlands, as well as influencing wetland related government policy and legislation that is being developed or under review.
  3. Education: trains and develops the capacity of key target audiences to get a better understanding of the dynamics of wetlands, effective rehabilitation of those degraded, sustainable wetland utilization and management. This audience includes: students at tertiary education institutions; implementers of wetland rehabilitation; agricultural and conservation extension staff in government, commercial agriculture, and emerging farmers; as well as the forestry and sugar industries. Wetland management tools are also developed, to promote better wetland management.
  4. Fieldwork: Rehabilitates degraded wetlands and demonstrates the wise use of a wetlands natural resources. Once capacity has been developed we support and guide government and industry extension staff, so that they can effectively promote the sustainable utilization of wetlands to wetland owners/managers.

Following are the MWP 5 year outcomes and annual outputs for 2009/10

(As of 6 May 2009)
SUSTAINABLE SUGARCANE INITIATIVE (to view a presentation about catalysing the better management of wetlands in the sugar industry download here)

Outcome: Better management practices (BMPs) and the Sustainable Farm Management System (SuSFarMS) are widely adopted and implemented in the Sugar Industry.


1. Relevant governance processes and activities in place supporting the implementation of SuSFarMS with Midlands North growers (Noodsberg & UCL). This will involve providing a supportive role for:

a)    Implementation.
b)    Auditing and reporting.
c)    Development and refinement of SuSFarMS, cost recovery and accreditation mechanisms.
d)    Supporting grower linkages with the market to create support for sustainably grown sugarcane.
e)    Accessing additional funding to support the implementation of SuSFarMS .

2.    Support the process of, institutionalizing SuSFarMS into the South African Sugar Association.

a)    SuSFarMS Support Unit established.

3.    Retail and market support for SuSFarMS is gained, together with partner organisations, or processes are in place for this to happen.

a)    Developing the business case of sustainable sugarcane production with Coke and WWF-USA.
b)    Supporting market actor’s to link with growers and industry to create support for sustainably grown sugarcane.

4.    Input provided into the development of the global Better Sugar Initiative standards.

a)    Alignment of SuSFarMS with BSI.

5.    Management of phase two of the Amatikulu small scale sugar farmer and extension project.

6.    Promote and support the uptake of SuSFarMS amongst the SADC sugarcane growing countries.

a)    Explore and support funding opportunities with Solidaridad.
b)    Based on the above, support the development of a funded project to adapt and apply SuSFarMS in SADC region.


PLANTATION FORESTRY INDUSTRY (to view a presentation about the better management of wetlands on Mondi’s commercial tree plantations download PDF here)

Outcome:  The plantation industry is sustainably managing its wetlands, protecting wetland biodiversity and ecological goods and services for the benefit of society.


1.    A state of the wetland report is developed with Mondi.  This involves identifying priority wetlands (approximately 16 - 20 wetlands), assessing their biophysical condition, quantifying their environmental goods and services, assessing their management and developing management plans for the wetlands.

2.    Current Better Management Practice Guidelines (Kotze, 2004) for wetlands in afforested catchments are reviewed and integrated in Mondi best management practice procedures.

3.    Two field workshops on transitioning land (land being transferred to claimants) run for Mondi community engagement facilitators and environmental management staff to better equip them to be able to help new land owners (claimants) manage wetlands sustainably.

4.    Mondi wide monitoring system for wetlands designed (protocols and standards) and operationalized.

5.    Potential of using wetlands as indicators of catchment water (hydrological) stress assessed, and findings published in a peer reviewed report.

6.    Help, develop and support capacity building and professional development for forest managers, environmental specialists and community engagement facilitators on managing wetlands and rivers sustainably.

7.    Provide Mondi with support on strategic but reactionary issues on sustainable wetland use, as and when they arise.


COMMUNAL AND COMMERCIAL FARMERS (to view a presentation about catalysing the better management of communally used wetlands for  agriculture download PDF here or to view a presentation about the government led Working for Wetlands programme that the MWP helped initiate download PDF here)

Outcome:  Farmers managing key wetlands of national and provincial importance better.


1.    Three pilot wetland wise use sites on private land initiated together with the KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife Stewardship Programme.

2.    A report detailing the recommended way forward for implementing better integration between rehabilitation and wetland use at Sambandou communal wetland in Venda, Limpopo.


MANAGEMENT TOOLS (to view a presentation on an example of a wetland tool developed for catalysing the better integration of wetland management into river basin management download PDF here)

Outcome:  Applied wetland research and tools for better wetland management.


1.    Draft wetland reserve determination methodology developed in partnership with DWAF and appointed consultants through:  

a)    Co-authoring the vegetation component of the methodology.
b)    Contributing to integration of all components (hydrology, hydraulics, vegetation and geomorphology) into a single method.
c)    Testing method in the field at 3 pilot wetland sites.

2.    Draft buffer methodology developed through a working group in partnership with WRC, DWAF and appointed consultants.

3.    Relevant and applied wetland research by contributing through WRC Steering Committees on:

a)    Indicators of better managed communal wetlands (AWARD).
b)    The response of Mfabeni mire to climatic and land use stresses, and its role in sustaining discharge to downstream and adjacent ecosystems.

4.    Guidelines on how to assess the geomorphological and vegetative responses to agricultural development on wetlands.


WATER (to view a presentation about the Wetlands Alliance for Training, Education , and research download PDF here)

Outcome:  High quality, relevant wetland education and training, resulting in more competent wetland practitioners and users, and institutions mandated to manage and rehabilitate wetlands.


1. Course development support for wetland training providers and institutions

a)    WATER will develop a framework of wetland competences describing the skills knowledge, and understanding needed to manage wetlands and perform specific wetland conservation-related tasks.
b)    WATER will help investigate the need for a system to assess, accredit and recognize competent wetland practitioners, and if needed, help set the system up.
c)    WATER will evaluate wetland courses and offer advice to training providers on how to improve the quality and relevance of courses.

2. Wetland courses and other learning opportunities for wetland practitioners and users

a)    WATER will develop and offer introductory courses with associated education materials, e.g. general environmental awareness; and understanding wetlands.
b)    WATER and MWP will develop and offer advanced courses with associated education materials,  e.g. wetland delineation; assessing the health of wetlands; rehabilitation methods; planning and evaluating wetland rehabilitation projects; assessing ecosystem goods and services.
c)    WATER and MWP will provide guided wetland fieldwork opportunities to people learning about wetlands and needing mentorship.

3. Networking and communication

a)    WATER will maintain databases of wetland learning opportunities and circulate information to potential learners and interest groups.

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