Assessing the ecological outcomes of wetland rehabilitation activities is an important need recognised by the ‘Working for Wetlands’ programme in South Africa. An assessment of ecological response was conducted in the Killarney and Kruisfontein wetlands, KwaZulu-Natal, in 2005 prior to rehabilitation in 2006, and again in 2011 and 2012, respectively, following rehabilitation. The assessment criteria included an evaluation of changes in ecological integrity, the supply of ecosystem services, and vegetation composition. Improvements in hydrological and geomorphic integrity were recorded in both wetlands, resulting in improved ecosystem delivery. However, investigation of vegetation composition using the wetland index value and floristic quality assessment index indices showed that, seven years after rehabilitation, Killarney’s vegetation composition had improved, but Kruisfontein’s vegetation was still largely dominated by pioneer species and appeared to be stable, but in a severely transformed state. The response of these wetlands has shown that sites for rehabilitation should be screened before work begins, and wetlands requiring intensive management of vegetation recovery should be assessed in terms of the objectives and the anticipated benefits of the project.
Keywords: ecosystem services, integrity, rehabilitation outcomes, WIV and FQAI indices
African Journal of Aquatic Science 2014, 39(3): 237–247