Unisa’s wetland rehab project nears completion

The wetland on Unisa’s Graduate School of Business Leadership campus in Midrand will soon be restored to full environmental health.

The wetland on Unisa’s Graduate School of Business Leadership campus in Midrand will soon be restored to full environmental health.

Published Feb 7, 2024


Located on the Unisa’s Graduate School of Business Leadership campus in Midrand, a degraded wetland area will soon be restored to its original state to fulfil its vital environmental function.

Launched in 2019, the multi-stakeholder project is in the final stages of rehabilitating the wetland 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.

According to the South African National Biodiversity Institute, wetlands are necessary to, among 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 and the National Water Act. 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 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 the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, the Sustainability Office and Facilities Management Department worked together to ensure protection and rehabilitation of the section of the wetland on the campus.

The campus covers only part of the wetland (the rest has been nearly completely destroyed by road and other construction), but the project seeks to, among 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.

Some of the areas in which rehabilitation is under way.

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.

Pretoria News