Determine the occurrence, extent and effects of anthropogenic impacts on natural systems, and provide scientific guidance and resources to maintain and/or achieve the desired ecological state of a system.
To ensure sustainable conservation of the Knysna Estuary, the research we do is used to guide and assist management authorities. The time has come to use scientific research to effectively manage the environment we depend on and our ongoing aim is to bring science and management together.
Knysna Estuary Monitoring Platform (KEMP)
The Knysna estuary is considered to be the most important estuary in South Africa in terms of conservation importance and roughly 42% of South Africa’s estuarine biodiversity is found within this system. The Knysna estuary contains the largest Eel grass beds in South Africa and is home to the endangered Knysna seahorse (Hippocampus capensis), which depend on this habitat type. These are just some of the features that highlight the ecological importance of this estuary, and the crucial need to ensure its long-term conservation. The Knysna estuary is not only ecologically important, but also functions as an important tourist attraction, providing much needed economical support for the town and surrounding communities. Many local communities also depend on it for subsistence in the way of fishing and/or bait collection.
The Knysna estuary is Knysna’s most important ecological and economical asset. To continue to reap the benefits from this asset, the estuary and its biota need to be maintained in a healthy ecological state. Good water quality is integral to a healthy estuary. It is our responsibility to understand the hydrological and biological characteristics of the estuary, monitor patterns and changes over time, assess potential human impact on the estuary, and to use this information to successfully management and conserve this system.
The Knysna Estuary Monitoring Platform (KEMP) was established by the Knysna Basin Project, by the generous contribution and support Konrad Taeuber from the Tauber Trust in 2015, with the overarching aim of providing a platform to monitor the water quality and hydrological processes of the Knysna estuary and to use the data generated to provide guidance to management and conservation authorities.
The Knysna Estuary Monitoring Platform (KEMP) is a water quality monitoring programme located within the Knysna estuary. Water quality data is collected by two Monitoring Stations within Thesen Islands Marina and at Thesens Jetty respectively. At each station, a permanently deployed Hach sonde collects data on a real-time, 24/7 basis and measurements are taken on an hourly basis.
This fine scale data collection enables us to observe all weather and environmental events that take place such as freshwater floods and upwelling events as well as assess the potential impact from drought and sea level rise. Parameters measured include:
- Dissolved oxygen (mg/l and % saturation)
A weather station located at Thesens Jetty measures the following:
- wind speed
- wind direction
- rainfall per hour
- absolute air pressure
- air temperature
- sun brightness
The data collected by the sondes are logged on a data logger located at each Monitoring Station. From here the data is uploaded to a database which can be accessed online (www.hach.zednet.ac.za). Data is uploaded every four hours.
Ntombi Vudla at email@example.com
The Shoresearch project is a long-term study of the biodiversity of the intertidal zone of the Knysna estuary. The project measures the invertebrate species that live between the low and high tide lines and their frequencies. There are 10 assessment sites from the Heads to Featherbed Bay with a diverse range of habitats which are assessed annually on a seasonal basis.
The project demonstrates
- The number of species and their frequency
- The effect of zonation from low to high tide
- Habitat differences
- Differences caused by reduced salinity at sites higher up the estuary
- Changes over time
The Project is run by Frances and Peter Smith with the help of citizen scientists.
Knysna Basin Project has published a revised and expanded second edition of its field guide – A Field Guide to the Shores of the Knysna Estuary – the common creatures, seaweeds and saltmarsh plants. The Guide aims to help the community learn about and appreciate the Estuary and to raise funds for the Project.
Peter and Frances Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org