Restoration of wetlands on the Agulhas Plain is unlikely to generate peat

Mills, Anthony ; Hunter, Roland (2018-02)

CITATION: Mills, A. & Hunter, R. 2018. Restoration of wetlands on the Agulhas Plain is unlikely to generate peat. South African Journal of Science, 114(1/2), Art. #a0252, doi:10.17159/sajs.2018/a0252.

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Wetlands in the Nuwejaars Special Management Area (NSMA) on the Agulhas Plain of South Africa are classified as Western Cape Floodplain Wetlands1 and are characterised by dense stands of palmiet (Prionium serratum L.f.). Invasions of alien plants and construction of infrastructure are resulting in considerable degradation of ecosystem services emanating from the wetlands. Large-scale restoration – by removing alien plants and rehydrating soils – is constrained by funding, and consequently new income streams from restored wetland landscapes need to be investigated. One option is to sequester carbon and generate carbon credits during the wetland restoration process. The economic viability of this option largely depends on the amount of carbon that could be sequestered. Previous studies of Western Cape Floodplain Wetlands have found that the carbon content of soils in wetlands with palmiet is surprisingly variable (e.g. ~1.3% in the Kromme River versus ~24% in the Goukou River). In general, however, wetlands in the Western Cape do not usually have a carbon content of more than 10%, possibly because of the rapid decomposition of organic matter during the hot, dry summer months.

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