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National Wetland Monitoring Programme

What is the wetland monitoring programme ?

In 2016 the Water Research Commission completed the National Wetland Monitoring Programme (NWMP) design based on:
  • minimising duplication of effort while maximising the value of outputs of wetland assessment and monitoring
  • finding suitable methods for prioritising wetlands to be assessed and monitored
  • adaptive management
  • maximum engagement and participation by stakeholders
The implementation of NWMP falls under the National Aquatic Ecosystem Health Monitoring Programme (NAEHMP) of the Department of Water and Sanitation. Technical reports : The aim of the NWMP is to assess and monitor the extent of wetlands, the threats to wetlands and the change in the present ecological state (PES) and ecosystem services provided by wetlands in South Africa. It is a "state-of-wetland" reporting programme, designed to demonstrate trends in the state or integrity (biological, physical and chemical components of its ecosystem and their interactions) of wetlands over time.

Three-tiered implementation approach for the NWMP :

NWMP is based on a three-tiered approach that allows assessment and monitoring of wetlands at different spatial scales:
  1. Tier 1 - Desktop assessment of national level indicators
    1. Wetland extent
    2. Wetland land cover types
    3. Land ownership in and around wetlands
    4. Wetland extent in protected areas
  2. Tier 2 - Rapid field assessment
    1. Wetland extent
    2. Listed invasive plants
    3. Land use
    4. Water quality
    5. Present state of hydrology
    6. Present state of vegetation
    7. Present state of geomorphology
    8. Ecosystem services
  3. Tier 3 - Monitoring of prioritised wetlands
    1. Wetland extent
    2. Present state of hydrology
    3. Present state of vegetation
    4. Present state of geomorphology
    5. Listed invasive plant species threat
    6. Protocols for water birds, frogs
    7. Protocols for diatoms, fish, invertebrates
    8. Protocols for water quality

Prioritisation of wetlands for rapid field assessment and monitoring :

Rapid Field Assessment (Tier 2): criteria will be based on
  • Hydrogeomorphic (HGM) type
  • Conservation Status i.e. centre of endemism, biological threat (red data species), Ramsar site and critical biodiversity areas
  • Ecoregion type
  • WMA type
  • Reference condition based on expert opinion
  • Threat status/level from land use activities
Monitoring (Tier 3)
  • PES and EIS category score (high=3, low=1)
  • Provincial spatial biodiversity plans (critical biodiversity areas)
  • FEPAs, FEPA clusters and Ramsar sites
  • Ecosystem services score from Tier 2
  • Change in landcover
  • Biome and ecoregion in which wetland is found
  • Wetlands prioritised irrespective of the above mentioned criteria, i.e. wetlands that address current gaps in wetland knowledge, provincially prioritised wetlands, wetlands with existing good baseline data and wetlands deemed as a 'must' by wetlands experts


Programme Manager : Mr Elijah Mogakabe 082 808 9844 or +27 12 808 9596


The success of the NWMP is dependent on the efforts of many local stakeholders.


Rountree et al. 2007 Manual for the assessment of a Wetland Index of Habitat Integrity for South African floodplain and channelled valley bottom wetland types.

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Last update of this page 2018-04-09 12:59