South Africas biodiversity and conservation legal environment

A herd of buffalo grazing on the open plains.


The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) concluded an intensive scoping investigation evaluating the effectiveness of compliance monitoring and enforcement of South Africa?s biodiversity and conservation legal regime.

The investigation was launched in October 2008 as part of the EWT?s Compliance and Enforcement Project, with the support of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.

"The result of this investigation is a report identifying the successes, challenges and gaps in compliance monitoring and enforcement of our biodiversity and conservation legislation, as well as making key recommendations for improvement to be undertaken by a variety of stakeholders, including the EWT," said Anique Rossouw, the EWT?s law and policy programme manager.

The investigation examined the relevant legislation highlighting any problematic provisions; analysed national statistics on enforcement contained in the National Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Reports published annually by the department of environmental affairs; considered the results of interviews with key stakeholders and previous studies; scrutinized relevant available case law; and assessed the capacity and effectiveness of the various enforcement bodies and the criminal justice system.

The final report contained an in-depth analysis of the gaps, constraints and recommendations for improvement of compliance monitoring and enforcement of national and provincial biodiversity and conservation legislation in South Africa.

Interviews with various stakeholders identified a number of additional legislative challenges that could potentially hamper effective compliance monitoring and enforcement. These included the lack of harmony between definitions in the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act of 2004 and the accompanying Threatened or Protected Species Regulations; problematic provisions on the enforcement powers of officials in biodiversity, conservation and provincial legislation; conflicting and confusing regulations; and problematic provisions in bioprospecting legislation. The report furthermore highlighted challenges related to criminal prosecutions and the capturing of enforcement data, as constraints.

?Based on the main constraints and challenges identified during the investigation a series of recommendations for improvement were made. The recommendations relate to training, resources, capacity skill development, legislative amendments and the correct and efficient recording of enforcement data. Going forward, the EWT will identify which of the recommendations contained in this report the NGO sector can undertake and will encourage all relevant stakeholders to implement the full scope of the recommendations made,? concluded Rossouw.



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