Major Milestone for South Africa’s Largest Wetland Restoration Project

The aerial image left shows the Lake St Lucia Estuary mouth area in 1937, overlaid with the area under work. The image right indicates the mouth at the beginning of the dredge spoil removal project in January 2016.

South Africa’s largest wetland rehabilitation project, the restoration of Lake St Lucia estuarine system, recently achieved an important milestone, according to iSimangaliso CEO Andrew Zaloumis.

Mr Zaloumis said that iSimangaliso has accelerated the pace of work in the Lake St Lucia Estuary Restoration Program. As at 30 May 2017, 1.290 million cubic meters had been moved.

This translates to almost 95% of the anticipated 1.363 million cubic meters of dredge spoil which will be removed. The project is expected to be concluded in early July, marking an important milestone in the process of ecological restoration for the Lake St Lucia estuarine system,” said Andrew Zaloumis.

The rehabilitation project comprises the removal of dredge spoil that was artificially placed in the Umfolozi River course by conservation authorities many years ago in a bid to protect the Lake St Lucia Estuary from what were believed to be the possible damaging effects of farming upstream.

For several decades, dredge spoil had been artificially deposited in the natural course of the Umfolozi River in an attempt to limit its inflows into Lake St Lucia Estuary in the belief that it would protect the Estuary from silt.

This significantly reduced freshwater to Lake St Lucia from the Umfolozi River. The Umfolozi is the largest of the five main rivers entering the system and accounts for some 60% of the freshwater inflows into Lake St Lucia’s system.