Pretoria – The Draft National Biodiversity Offset Policy has been published for public comment, the Department of Environmental Affairs said on Monday.
The draft policy was published in Government Gazette 40733 (Notice No. 276), in terms of the National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (Act No. 107 of 1998) (NEMA).
“The aim of the National Biodiversity Offset Policy is to ensure that significant residual impacts of developments are remedied, as required by NEMA, thereby ensuring sustainable development takes place in line with the Constitutional right to an environment that is not harmful to the health and well-being of all who live in South Africa,” the department said.
It also responds to the National Development Plan (NDP), which requires that South Africa’s ecosystems and natural resources are used efficiently.
Habitat loss is recognised as the primary driver of biodiversity loss and biodiversity offsets are becoming an internationally accepted tool that can be used to ensure that development is ecologically sustainable by enhancing the conservation and sustainable use of priority ecosystems and fragile biodiversity-rich areas not under formal protection.
The proposed policy will need to be taken into consideration with all development applications that will still have residual impact after the mitigation sequence has been followed in the Environmental Impact Assessment process.
In addition, the policy requires this process to be finalised before the application is submitted for approval, in order to enable the relevant Competent Environmental Authorities to make an informed decision.
“The implementation of the draft policy on biodiversity offsets for South Africa will ensure that due remedy is obtained for significant adverse impacts on biodiversity resulting from development.
“The policy will contribute to securing priority biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in perpetuity, for the benefit of both present and future generations, and so ensure sustainable development,” the department said.
Members of the public are invited to submit to the Minister within 60 days after the publication of the notice in the Gazette, which was published last week.
Written representations on, or objections, can be sent to the following addresses:
By post to: The Director-General; Department of Environmental Affairs
Attention: Ms Willeen Olivier
Private Bag X447
By hand at: Environment House, 473 Steve Biko Road, Arcadia, Pretoria, 0083 or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Any enquiries in connection with the draft National Biodiversity Offsets Policy can be directed to Ms Willeen Olivier on 012 399 9581.