Original Research

Wetland craft plants in KwaZulu-Natal: an ecological review of har­vesting impacts and implications for sustainable utilization

C. H. Traynor, D. C. Kotze, S. G. McKean
Bothalia | Vol 40, No 1 | a202 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/abc.v40i1.202 | © 2010 C. H. Traynor, D. C. Kotze, S. G. McKean | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 July 2010 | Published: 22 July 2010

About the author(s)

C. H. Traynor, Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa, South Africa
D. C. Kotze, Centre for Environment, Agriculture & Development, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
S. G. McKean, Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife

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In South Africa, wetland plants have been used for centuries and they continue to be harvested for subsistence and commercial purposes. Fibres for crafts are collected by cutting the aboveground parts. KwaZulu-Natal is one of the major basket-producing regions in southern Africa and at least twenty-two species of wetland plants are harvested for crafts. A literature review of the harvested species revealed that the impacts of cutting have only been extensively investigated for Phragmites australis (Cav.) Steud. and Juncus kraussii Hochst. The review suggested that, where plants display strong seasonal aboveground productivity patterns, cutting should take place after shoot senescence and before new shoot emergence to minimize damage to plants. Cutting in the short term could increase the density of green stems. However, in the long term in  Phragmites australis, it may deplete the rhizome reserves and reduce the density of useable (longer and thicker) culms.The opportunity for sustainable harvests was investigated by considering the geographic distribution, whether species are habitat specific or not, and local population sizes of the craft plants. Juncus kraussii is of the greatest conservation concern.Ecologically sustainable wetland plant harv esting could contribute to the wise use of wetlands, an approach promoted nationally and internationally.


basketry; cutting disturbance; management; sustainable utilization; wise use of wetland


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