Unisa's wetland rehab project nears completion

Launched in 2019, a multi-stakeholder project at Unisa is in the final stages of rehabilitating a wetland located on the university’s Graduate School of Business Leadership (SBL) campus in Midrand by addressing challenges such as excessive flooding in the parking area, erosion, habitat destruction, invasion of alien species and damaged stream banks. Completion is envisaged towards the end of the first quarter of 2024.


The wetland on Unisa’s SBL campus will soon be restored to full environmental health

Why wetlands matter

According to the South African National Biodiversity Institute, wetlands are necessary to, amongst others, help to slow down flood waters, minimise erosion, provide habitat to a variety of species, improve water quality and sustain the base flows of rivers.

Unisa’s Sustainability Framework 2021-2023 provides a roadmap for sustainability that is focused on the university’s continuous efforts to ensure its commitment to a sustainable future. This rehabilitation project is in line with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities.

Wetlands are environmentally sensitive bodies of land and are protected in South Africa in terms of the National Environmental Management Act 107 of 1998 and the National Water Act 36 of 1998. To ensure compliance with this legislation and other bylaws, environmental authorisation was sought, and specialist studies commissioned. These included a study to document the indigenous fauna and flora, and a study by the university’s College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (CAES) to provide guidance in terms of remedial actions required to restore the wetland. This allowed various sectors in Unisa to take co-ownership of the project as CAES, the Sustainability Office and Facilities Management Department worked together to ensure protection and rehabilitation of the section of the wetland on the campus.


Some of the areas in which rehabilitation is under way

The SBL campus covers only part of the wetland (the rest has been nearly completely destroyed by road and other construction), but the project seeks to, amongst others, restore the original state of the wetland located on the campus, protect the slope from further degradation, manage peak flow and upgrade the stormwater system to mitigate adverse site conditions.

More to come

This project is the first of its kind for Unisa, and similar initiatives are envisaged for other sites such as the university’s Daveyton campus in Ekurhuleni which is also situated on a wetland. These initiatives are happening at a time when the Global Reporting Initiative – an independent sustainability reporting body – is launching a Biodiversity Standard. This standard will require organisations to report/disclose their impact on biodiversity from 2025. Unisa is therefore not only on the right path in ensuring that it identifies and minimises its environmental impact, but also provides remedial action to address oversights of the past.

* Submitted by the Unisa Sustainability Office

Publish date: 2024/02/02

Telephone: +27 11 652 0248 / +27 11 652 0291

Email: sbl@unisa.ac.za

Physical Address:
Cnr Janadel and Alexandra Avenues
Midrand, 1686
Gauteng, South Africa
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