Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Barbara Creecy, has granted an extension until 28 May 2021 for public consultation on the Revised National Biodiversity Framework (NBF) 2019 to 2024.
The draft Revised Framework was published in terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act by the Minister, in Government Gazette 44229 (Notice No. 171) on 5 March 2021.
“The extension has been granted taking into account the sectors that may be directly, or indirectly, impacted by the release on 2 May 2021 of the High Level Panel report on the management, breeding, trade and handling of elephant, lion, leopard and rhinoceros by the Minister,” the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment said on Monday.
The Revised Framework is an important policy instrument for the management and protection of species and ecosystems. Cabinet approved it in November 2020.
“The 2019 – 2024 Framework coordinates and aligns the efforts of the various key role-players in the conservation and management of South Africa’s biodiversity in support of sustainable development.
“The review of the Framework was necessary so that a different approach can be taken in terms of biological management, an area in which there have been a number of changes since the first NBF was developed more than 12 years ago,” the department said.
The proposed framework notes while there are a range of national policies, strategies, frameworks and other systems either in place, or being developed, to guide the work in certain areas of the biodiversity sector, an integrated, coordinated and consistent approach to biodiversity management is necessary.
“It identifies priority areas for conservation action, and for the establishment of protected areas. It also reflects on regional cooperation concerning biodiversity management in Southern Africa, and identifies interventions that can be used to accelerate implementation of high-level priorities of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) over the next five years,” the department said,
The framework, first published in 2009, is reviewed and revised every five years.
The Revised NBF addresses the biodiversity threats identified during the scientific assessment of the state of biodiversity and ecosystems in the country by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI).
The findings were published in the National Biodiversity Assessment (NBA) in 2019.
“The most recent NBA showed that South Africa’s biodiversity remains under pressure from a variety of human-induced factors and disturbances. These include unsustainable land uses, the destructive over-harvesting of species and illegal trafficking of wild animals and plants.
“The most critical areas in the assessment report related to freshwater ecosystems, rivers and estuaries with freshwater fish being the most vulnerable of all the species,” the department said.
South Africa is a water scarce country and pressures on biodiversity such as illegal trade in species, land degradation, habitat loss and exponential population growth are key factors that risk infectious disease outbreaks such as COVID-19.
“Continued investment in healthy ecosystems in terms of management, conservation and restoration of ecosystems and biodiversity is crucial for water, food and energy security, disease and natural disaster control, climate change resilience; and for post-COVID-19 economic recovery.
“Strong commitment and cooperation across all spheres of government (whole of government approach) are essential for the implementation of the NBF as one of the National Development Plan’s accelerators,” the department said.
The department said social and economic costs of not managing ecosystems in a sustainable manner are high.
“The impacts are worsened by an increasingly unpredictable climate and an increase in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, which cause severe social and economic disruption, increased food insecurity due to crop and stock losses and lower yields, damage to infrastructure, and even loss of life.
“These impacts compromise the nation’s ability to fulfil its social and economic growth goals, and impacts on the quality of life of all South Africans especially the rural poor who rely daily on biodiversity resources to meet their subsistence needs.
“Coordinated implementation of the strategies identified in this NBF will contribute meaningfully to addressing poverty and creating a climate-resilient society,” the department said.
An electronic copy of the Government Notice and the draft revised framework can be downloaded from the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment website from the following link: https://www.environment.gov.za/legislation/gazetted_notices#.
Members of the public are invited to submit written representations on, or objections to, the notice to the Minister no later than 28 May 2021.
Written comments can be submitted to the following addresses:
– By post to: The Director-General: Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries; Attention: Ms. Pamela Kershaw; Private Bag X447; Pretoria; 0001.
– By hand at: Ground Floor (Reception), Environment House, 473 Steve Biko, Corner Steve Biko and Soutpansberg Road, Arcadia, Pretoria, 0001.
– By email: email@example.com, or by fax to 0865411102 or 012 399 9585.
All inquiries in connection with the notice can be directed to Ms Pamela Kershaw at 012 399 9585. Comments received after the closing date may be disregarded.