The Policy and Advocacy Programme follows proactive and reactive strategies to ensure that development (in particular) and other human activities are done in a sustainable and environmentally acceptable manner. All the great conservation work that BirdLife South Africa does can be undone in a stroke, if the wrong legislation or bad development plans are approved. The policy and advocacy work may sometimes feel a little negative and reactive, but it actually supports and underpins almost everything else.
There are two key areas in this aspect of BirdLife South Africa's work. The first is to work with government departments and provide input to and reviews of draft policy documents, regulations and acts of parliament. It's a bit like keeping our finger on the legislative pulse of the environment. The second area of conservation and environmental work is to promote the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act of 2003, to private landowners. We encourage them to acquire formal protection of their land and by so doing, ensure that Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) that fall on private land are not threatened by unsustainable activities, such as mining and other developments in the future.
Our reactive work focuses around participation in Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs). Even though compliance with the EIA regulations is compulsory we find that many activities such as resort developments take place without compliance with the regulations. It is also under these circumstances that BirdLife South Africa steps in, highlighting non-compliance to the relevant provincial environmental authority. These investigations are slow and painful, but the conservation gains make it all worth it in the end.
BirdLife South Africa also raises alarm bells when developers do not comply with the public participation processes and we have taken cases all the way to the High Court, as in the Wakkerstroom campaign.
This is why BirdLife South Africa is constantly looking to grow the membership base, adding more voices to our objections to poorly conceived or otherwise bad developments.
Join BirdLife South Africa and contribute your voice to the conservation of birds and their habitats.
The Intent to Declare the Greater Lakenvlei Protected Environment (GLPE) was gazetted on 22 May 2014 which started a public participation period of 60 days for comments.
BirdLife South Africa encourages you to sign the Letter of Support document Greater Lakenvlei Letter of Support (23 KB) and to circulate to anyone who may have an interest in the Lakenvlei area. These letters need to be signed and returned to Daniel Marnewick, Manager: Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas and Regional Conservation Programme at email@example.com or faxed to 011 789 5188. Daniel will hand them over to the MTPA CEO and MEC at the close of the public participation period.
Habitat loss remains one of the biggest threats to birds and the environment in South Africa. Development is taking at a rapid pace, in contrast to government's pronouncements about sustainable development, and industry sees this as a last opportunity to grab land and exploit South Africa's natural resources, thus jeopardising our country's water and food security. It is a race against time, with development hampering our country's ability to meet international targets (such as carbon emission reduction targets, reduction in rate of biodiversity loss, poverty reduction, etc.) made under the various Multilateral Environmental Agreements.
The campaigns listed in the document below highlight some of BirdLife South Africa's work to conserve and protect the habitats which are important for birds, people and the greater environment.
Dealing with development threats to IBAs pdf Download (297 KB)
A treasured World Heritage Site is under severe threat. An Australian company, Coal of Africa Limited (CoAL) has recently been given the go ahead to begin construction of an opencast and underground coal mine within less than 6 km from the borders of the Mapungubwe National Park and adjacent to the World Heritage Site, with the approval of the Environmental Management Plan for the proposed Vele Colliery. This will compromise the environmental integrity of the area in and around Mapungubwe for current and future generations as it relates to the natural habitat, ecosytems, cultural heritage and related aspects of the environment.
The Centre for Environmental Rights is a non-profit organisation that provides legal and related support to environmental civil society organisations and communities. Its mission is to advance environmental rights in South Africa and its vision is to facilitate civil society participation in environmental governance that is stronger, more streamlined and better legally and scientifically equipped.
Visit www.cer.org.za for more information.