Rivers and Estuaries Programme
The NVT conducts regular “health” assessments of the Groot River and its estuary within the Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park. This not only involves sampling to assess water quality by way of standardised methods but also assessing mainly fish and bird species with a view to informing management plans for the area.
Given that South Africa is an arid country with an average rainfall far below the global average, the level of freshwater supply to water systems such as rivers and estuaries is low. These systems, though, are known as biodiversity hotspots with estuaries, in particular, providing important habitats for many species, particularly fish, and supporting a number of estuarine-dependent endemic species. However, given their importance for society, these systems are also subject to intense human pressure. When combined with the impacts of climate change, this scenario is bound to cause a decline in water quality
Recognising this, the Cape Estuaries Programme, a provincial government initiative, is working with local authorities, government organisations, non-government organisations and civil society to establish estuary management forums in the province. To this end, the NVT is a key partner in the establishment of the Salt River and Groot River Estuary Forum.
Both the Salt River (west of Nature’s Valley) and Groot River (east of Nature’s Valley) are considered to be of high importance. The Salt River is home to several yet unnamed freshwater invertebrate species which have been a subject of research in collaboration with Rhodes University, while the Groot River is one of the most pristine systems in the province and is home to two near-threatened and endemic fish species (Eastern Cape Redfin and the Cape Kurper). A new source-to-sea project is currently being planned and will be implemented soon.