Managing wetlands for disaster risk reduction: a case study of the eastern Free State, South Africa
Belle, Johannes A.
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This article investigated the knowledge and practice of a nature-based solution to reduce disaster risks of drought, veld fires and floods using wetlands in the eastern Free State, South Africa. A mixed research method approach was used to collect primary data using three data collection tools, namely questionnaires, interviews and field observations. Ninety-five wetlands under communal and private ownership as well as a few in protected areas were sampled, with their users completing questionnaires. The study showed that communal wetlands were more degraded, while wetlands in protected areas and in private commercial farms were in a good ecological state. An extensive literature review reveals that healthy wetlands are effective buffers in reducing disaster risks such as drought, veld fires and floods which are recurrent in the study area. Therefore, through better land-use and management practices, backed by education and awareness, wetlands could be good instruments to mitigate recurrent natural hazards in the agriculturally dominated eastern Free State in South Africa.