Title: Okavango Delta. Floods of Life
Author: John Mendelsohn
Publisher: Research and Information Services of Namibia (RAISON)
Windhoek, Namibia 2010
ISBN 9789991678054 / ISBN 978-99916-780-5-4
Softcover, 21x28 cm, 145 pages, throughout photos, maps and images
Okavango Delta - Floods of Life describes the origins, functioning, life and people of this remarkable wetland. In combination, no other body of water in Africa is so large, well protected, pristine, economically valuable, and well-known internationally. It runs on internal processes that shift water from one area to another and keep the water fresh. Pulses of water retreat and then inundate the following season to permit the recycling of nutrients and life to spring from sediments.
Each square metre of sediment may contain fifty thousand crustacean eggs, for example, and countless other constituents of life. This is a patchwork of diversity of habitat and life forms; economic opportunities that enable people to move from subsistence to lifestyles that provide cash and food security; and good governance. Permanent swamps at the head of the Delta filter out most sediments, clays and nutrients from the incoming water. Peat beneath these swamps stores large volumes of nutrients, while fish seek refuge in permanent waters when the flood waters are low.
The Delta’s wealth of life is replenished each year downstream in the seasonal swamps when catalytic flood waters from Angola stir the dormant nutrients and eggs into regular production. Drier, occasional floodplains are the centres of biological diversity and provide settings for episodic booms of biological production. Okavango Delta: Floods of Life provides information and ideas to improve that debate in the hope that this wetland remains one of planet earth’s great assets.