SPECIAL SESSION: KWAZULU-NATAL RIVERS – SOURCE TO SEA (Thursday 6 November)​

Riverine ecosystems are some of the most threatened of all ecosystems globally, upon which all terrestrial life depends. These ecosystems not only provide us with water for basic human needs, they provide a range of natural products and other ecosystem services such as the transportation and assimilation of waste and importantly, they maintain an incredible diversity of aquatic animals. This special session includes eight presentations and two discussion sessions, both experienced and up-and-coming inland aquatic scientists representing local and national government, non-profit institutions, universities and private organisations. The scope of the presentations includes aspects of river ecosystems across KZN from the Drakensburg to Umtata to river dominated estuaries along the north coast of KZN. The presentations will highlight management and conservation issues, use and protection requirements, new innovative technologies and the importance of revisiting forgotten plans and past recommendations. In particular the threats of a range of anthropogenic and natural stressors to river ecosystems and the animals that live in them will be presented and discussed. These stressors include altered environmental variable states, such as water quality, quantity and habitat states to river and estuarine ecosystems in KZN and the otters, fish and aquatic insects within these ecosystems. In addition, this session will includes presentations on ecological risk, radio telemetry tracking methods and nitrogen isotope research techniques and case studies. The role of the routine biomonitoring to informing sound river management in KZN will also be presented and discussed in an attempt to revitalise stakeholder buy-in to the programme, citizen science and strategies to mitigate threats to river ecosystems and conserve critical processes.