Water Wise Watch: May 2019

This month at Water Wise


'Our Biodiversity, Our Food, Our Health'

International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) is an annual event that takes place on 22 May. This initiative was declared by the United Nations (UN) in 2000, and has been celebrated throughout the world ever since. The theme this year is 'Our Biodiversity, Our Food, Our Health', which focuses on the dependency of our food systems, nutrition, and health on biodiversity and healthy ecosystems. The aim of IDB is to increase the understanding and awareness of worldwide biodiversity issues. Biological diversity, known as biodiversity, is formally defined as the the number and variety of living organisms on Earth. This includes the millions of plants, animals, and micro-organisms, as well as the genes they contain, the evolutionary history and potential they encompass, and the ecosystems, ecological processes, and landscapes of which they are integral parts. Overall, biodiversity is the life-support systems and natural resources upon which all living organisms depend. There are three main components of biodiversity, namely genetic diversity, species diversity, and ecosystem diversity. Sometimes, landscape diversity is included in the definition.

What relevance does biodiversity have to you and me? Biodiversity is not something important to scientists and environmentalists only. Biodiversity is essential for the survival or each and every one of us. A healthy environment provides what is known as critical ecosystem services. These include food security, clean and secure water supply, clean air, flood attenuation, building material, and biomass energy. Natural ecosystems provide the foundation of our economy and society, without which neither would function.

Unfortunately, the growing human population and subsequent pressure on the natural environment through urbanisation, water demand, agricultural needs, pollution, habitat destruction, over-exploitation of natural resources, and invasive alien plant and animal species has severely impacted biodiversity across the globe. Without healthy, functioning ecosystems, we face a future of threatened water supplies, air pollution, loss of soil, and reduction in food security. 

Every single living organism on Earth has a role to play. No species is redundant. Removing a species from the environment will have a severe knock-on effect on the functioning and sustainability of that ecosystem, even those species we find annoying or threatening. Here is a list of some of the services and benefits we can expect to lose if we do not focus on conserving our natural environment:

  • maintenance of the hydrological cycle, and thus the provision of clean water;
  • maintenance of atmospheric quality, which in turn provides pure air to breathe and helps to control the climate;
  • the generation and conservation of soils, which are essential to agriculture and forestry;
  • protection from erosion;
  • nutrient cycling;
  • pollutant breakdown and absorption;
  • control of many potential crop pests and vectors of disease;
  • the pollination of many crops;
  • maintenance of a vast resource of genetic materials from which South Africa and other countries have developed crops, domestic animals, medicines and industrial products;
  • The insurance and basis for adaptation which biodiversity provides against large changes in climate and ecosystem processes.
South Africa is the third most biologically diverse countries in the world. Approximately 80% of our plant species are found no where else on the planet, making our country a major biodiversity hotspot and an area of major global importance for biodiversity conservation. However, population growth, and industrial and agricultural development has put major pressure on our natural environment. It is essential that we start recognising the importance of conserving and protecting our natural environments and ecosystems.

So, what can you do?

  1. Don't support any activity or service that exploits the natural environment.
  2. Support your local nature reserves and environmental organisations.
  3. Reduce your consumption, for example, of single-use plastic like shopping bags and straws.
  4. Reduce your pollution.
  5. Recycle and re-use wherever possible.
  6. Reduce your energy demands, for example, electricity and petrol.
  7. Reduce your water demands. Use less water!
  8. Restore habitat in your community or garden.
  9. Protect natural environments such as wetlands and rivers in your community and encourage others to do the same.
  10. Grow your own organic vegetables, without the use of chemical pesticides and herbicides.
It is in our best interests to ensure the conservation of our natural resources, for the survival of all species on Earth. Each and every one of us is responsible for contributing to the health of our natural environment. 


International Earth Day celebrations with Miss Earth 2019

On 25 April, Water Wise celebrated International Earth Day at Rand Water's Head Office. The event featured a talk by Miss Earth Director 'Ella Bella', as well as an opportunity to take a selfie with 'Ella Bella'. Have a look at the photos from the event below.



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Environmental Days and Public Holidays 

01 May: Worker's Day12 May: Mother's Day

23 May: World Turtle Day

25 May: World Africa Day

Water and environmental news
(Click on the bold heading below to read the article)

Water pollution – SA’s biggest threat to water security

'Minister of Water and Sanitation Gugile Nkwinti has singled out pollution as the biggest threat to the South Africa’s water quality. "A resolution to the thousands of informal settlements that stretch along South Africa’s rivers must be considered in order to deal with the problem of rampant water pollution in the country,” he said.


Water hyacinth: blessing or curse?

"The 95-year-old Hartbeespoort Dam has been plagued by water hyacinths since the 1970s. However, there may be a way to harness these alien invaders to empower local communities and start a circular economy. The water quality in the Hartbeespoort Dam began to decline noticeably..."

Two-thirds of glacier ice in the Alps 'will melt by 2100'

“Two-thirds of the ice in the glaciers of the Alps is doomed to melt by the end of the century as climate change forces up temperatures, a study has found. Half of the ice in the mountain chain’s 4,000 glaciers will be gone by 2050 due to global warming...”

'Decades of denial': major report finds New Zealand's environment is in serious trouble

"A report on the state of New Zealand’s environment has painted a bleak picture of catastrophic biodiversity loss, polluted waterways and the destructive rise of the dairy industry and urban sprawl."


Zwartkopjies weather

Our weather station is currently under maintenance and weather data is unavailable. We apologise for the inconvenience. In the interim, have a look at the weather forecast for South Africa, courtesy of the South African Weather Service, by clicking on the image below.  

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