National Water Act Definition
Land which is transitionary between terrestrial and aquatic systems, where the water table is usually at or near the surface, or the land is periodically covered with shallow water, and which land in normal circumstances supports or would support vegetation typically adapted to life in saturated soil.
[Source: National Water Act (Act No. 36 of 1998)].
Wetlands are areas where water covers the soil, or is present either at or near the surface of the soil all year or for varying periods of time during the year, including during the growing season. Wetlands may support both aquatic, riparian and terrestrial ecosystems.
Why are wetlands important?
The ecological value of wetlands has been widely recognised. Amongst others, wetlands help prevent floods, improve water quality, reduce river sediment loads and provide fish and wildlife habitat. It is less well recognised, however, that many wetlands are groundwater driven and without understanding their drivers and functionality, it is difficult to manage and conserve these components of the hydrological system.