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South Africa: Project Matlabas

Ecohydrological analysis of Matlabas, a large spring mire in Marakele National Park, South Africa

During 2012-2015 ERA assisted in financing an ecohydrological study of a large, almost pristine spring mire in the Marakele National Park. The work was carried out by Antoinette Bootsma who is preparing a master thesis at UNISA (University of South Africa). The work is supervised by Prof Lesly Brown, ABEERU, UNISA, by Prof Ab Grootjans, University of Groningen/ Radboud University Nijmegen, NL and by Dr. Piet-Louis Grundling, Centre for Environmental Management, University of the Free State, SA.

Matlabas is a mountain mire and is fed by different groundwater flows originating from local sources, but possibly also from much further away. Geological faults possibly force groundwater from deeper aquifers to surface in the mire. The deepest part of the mire is about 11,000 years old (Elshehawi 2015). The mire is still in a good condition, but small parts are threatened by erosion which causes local drainage. Measures are prepared to stop this erosion. Matlabas is a very unique mire system. It is clearly a spring mire, but a small river is flowing over large parts of the crest of the mire, without causing severe erosion. The vegetation consisting of rows of large tussocks of Miscanthus junceus disperse the surface water in such a way that erosion is largely prevented (Bootsma 2016).