South Africa’s policy and legislative framework for biodiversity

South Africa’s policy and legislative framework for biodiversity is well developed, providing a strong basis for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. South Africa is one of the few countries in the world to have a Biodiversity Act and a National Biodiversity Institute.

Key components of the national policy and legislative framework for biodiversity include:

  • The White Paper on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of South Africa’s Biological Diversity (1997)
  • The National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (Act 10 of 2004)
  • The National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act (Act 57 of 2003)
  • The National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) (2005)
  • The National Spatial Biodiversity Assessment (NSBA) (2004, currently being reviewed and updated)
  • The National Biodiversity Framework (NBF) (2008)
  • The National Protected Area Expansion Strategy (NPAES) (2008)

In addition to national legislation, some of South Africa’s nine provinces have their own provincial biodiversity legislation, as nature conservation is a concurrent function of national and provincial government in terms of the Constitution (Act 108 of 1996).

The various elements of South Africa’s biodiversity policy and legislative framework described above are relatively new. Although much progress has been made, challenges remain in ensuring effective implementation and enforcement of policy and legislation as well as monitoring of policy outcomes.

SANBI’s role in relation to biodiversity policy

As an organisation that straddles the interface between science and policy, SANBI is in a strong position to support the challenging task of ensuring that South Africa’s excellent biodiversity science informs biodiversity policy and implementation.

SANBI’s role with respect to biodiversity policy has three major elements:

  • Advice and support to the Department of Environment Affairs (DEA) on policy development and implementation
  • Leading the development of certain policy tools, at the request of DEA
  • Mainstreaming biodiversity concerns in the policies and legislation of other sectors
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