A combined EMP was produced for seven selected estuaries, namely, the Mhlangamkulu, uMthente, Mzimkulu, Mbango, Mhlangeni, Bilanhlolo and uMuntongazi. The purpose of the EMP is to provide the overarching Vision for the future desired state of the Ray Nkonyeni District Municipality estuaries, and thereby guide the management of the human activities in and around these systems by setting out priority management objectives and related actions/activities.
The Combined EMP
Estuaries are recognised as particularly sensitive and dynamic ecosystems, and therefore require above-average care in the planning and control of activities related to their use and management. For this reason, the National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act (No. 24 of 2008, as amended by Act 36 of 2014) (ICMA), via the prescriptions of the National Estuarine Management Protocol (the Protocol), require Estuary Management Plans to be prepared for all estuaries in order to create informed platforms for efficient and coordinated estuarine management. The Protocol identifies the Ray Nkonyeni Municipality (RNM) as the Responsible Management Authority (RMA) responsible for developing and co-ordinating implementation of the EMPs within their municipal area. This document serves as the collective EMP for seven selected estuaries, namely, the Mhlangamkulu, uMthente, Mzimkulu, Mbango, Mhlangeni, Bilanhlolo and uMuntongazi. The EMP applies to the Estuarine Functional Zone (EFZ) of each individual estuary, that is, the area below the 5 m topographical contour, which encapsulates the flood plain, a range of estuarine habitats, and variable estuarine processes and functions, such as backflooding.
The purpose of the EMP is to provide the overarching vision for the future desired state of the RNM estuaries, and thereby guide the management of human activities in and around these systems by setting out priority management objectives and related actions/activities.
Combined Situation Assessment Report
The Situation Assessment Report provides an overview of the current state of the selected estuaries, identifies possible management deficiencies, and recommends areas for improvement. The document is structured into chapters per estuary and the information is summarised and displayed in a "dashboard‟ format. Various maps (e.g. the town planning scheme) are provided.
The Mzimkulu Estuary is the largest system of concern, with a catchment area of approximately 6700 km2 and an estuarine area of 251.2 ha. It is the only permanently open estuarine type selected, while the remaining six estuaries are all temporarily open/closed systems. All the selected estuaries can be considered urban systems and have been significantly impacted by direct and indirect human interference resulting in habitat loss and degradation, pollution issues, loss of biodiversity and deterioration in ecosystem services. In terms of estuarine health, two systems are in a largely natural state with few modifications (PES Category B) (Mzimkulu and uMuntongazi), four are in a moderately modified state (PES Category C) (Mhlangamkulu, uMthente, Mhlangeni and Bilanhlolo), and the Mbango is seriously modified from its natural state (PES Category E), exhibiting extensive loss of natural habitat, biota and basic ecosystem functions.