Science service centre to host workshop on wetlands project

In a bid to assess progress and refine strategies, a climate change management organisation is set to host a workshop for its technical partners.

The Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (Sasscal) is set to host this workshop to review the progress on its Wetlands Monitoring and Assessment (WeMast) Phase II project on 27 and 28 June.

The workshop will be conducted at the Protea Fürstenhof Hotel in Windhoek.

The WeMast project aims to better understand the status of wetlands in six southern African countries.

It is funded under the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security and Africa Support Programme between the African Union and the European Union (EU) in the area of space, science and technology.

The project is a key priority under the EU-Africa partnership.

The project is being implemented in four basins: the Cuvelai, Zambezi, Okavango and Limpopo basins in Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Wetlands are important to the environment, since they provide water and pasture for livestock production, irrigation activities, as well as other non-agricultural uses, such as brick-making and fishing.

Vegetable crops in and outside wetlands are a main source of food and income for local communities.

Moreover, the Barotse wetland was designated as a Ramsar site because of its great biodiversity.

The Barotse floodplain has the richest aquatic fauna in the Zambezi basin, with a total of 89 species, including lizards, snakes, crocodiles and frogs.

The lack of mechanised agriculture, the lack of pesticide usage, and the relative intactness of wetlands allow a great biodiversity of amphibians and reptiles to thrive.

In a statement, Sasscal said the workshop will see stakeholders assessing their progress and realigning the roles of the technical partners to ensure there is a common understanding of the project’s objectives, tasks and deliverables.

“The workshop will allow Sasscal to showcase the new features and functionalities of the enhanced WeMast geoportal, and get feedback from the technical partners to allow the finalisation of its development, and to get feedback on the implementation challenges and opportunities,” the statement says.

The WeMast geoportal is an online platform that aims to provide policy and decision-makers with effective wetlands assessment and monitoring tools.

Through the project, Sasscal is mandated to design, develop and operationalise an integrated geospatial data platform that provides wetlands information services.

“Sasscal and its technical partners, the Midlands State University in Zimbabwe, the University of Namibia, the University of Botswana, the University of Zambia, the National Remote-Sensing Centre in Zambia, the University of Western Cape in South Africa, and Locate IT in Kenya seek to enhance the products and services of the geoportal,” the statement says.

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