iSimangaliso: The restoration of Africa’s largest estuarine lake receives a boost
The historic restoration of the Lake St Lucia system is now making a visible difference to the landscape and nature. From the vantage point over the town of St Lucia across to Maphelane, the view is dramatically different to that of several months ago, as the dredge spoil and other deposited material is steadily removed.
“It is still early days and a lot more work is needed, yet nature’s healing has begun” says iSimangaliso CEO Andrew Zaloumis, “The removal of the first 96 842 cubic metres of material obstructing the natural course of the uMfolozi River has begun to reverse its negative impact on the hydrological and ecological functioning of the 350km2 Lake St Lucia estuarine system. In February last year only 10% of the Lake’s surface area was covered by water. By November, with good inflows from the uMfolozi River, 90% of the Lake’s surface area was covered. Levels have been maintained and salinities remain low but we are not yet out of the woods.”
The World Bank has invested additional funds to restore Africa’s largest estuarine lake and, on the 5th January 2017, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority signed two new contracts valued at R23.41 million each with T&T Marine (Pty) Ltd and Scribante Africa Mining (Pty) Ltd respectively. Both contracts will run until the end of June 2017 and are for the loading, hauling, tipping and disposal of material obstructing the natural flow of the uMfolozi River in the mouth area of the Lake St Lucia Estuary.
“This brings the total value of iSimangaliso’s Lake St Lucia restoration project to R62 million,” says iSimangaliso Business Director Terri Castis.
Makakatana Bay Lodge is already experiencing the changes with a rise in the level of the bay through the effects of the Umfolozi River filtering back into the lake. The Makakatana boat safari that takes guests into the wetland narrows to explore the wonders of the World Heritage Site estuarine system is witnessing the benefits of this restoration process.