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The determination of bioregions and the publication of bioregional plans for the Waterberg and Mopani District Municipalities

4 January 2019

On 4 January 2019, the MEC for Economic Development, Environment and Tourism, Limpopo Province, published a notice in the Limpopo Provincial Gazette determining bioregions and adopting bioregional plans for the Waterberg and Mopani District Municipalities in Limpopo Province in terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 (NEMBA).

In terms of section 40(1) of NEMBA, the Minister or an MEC may determine a geographic region as a bioregion for the purposes of this Act if that region contains whole or several nested ecosytems and is characterised by its landforms, vegetation cover, human culture and history; and publish a plan for the management of biodiversity and the components of biodiversity in such region. Bioregional plans must, inter alia, contain measures for the effective management of biodiversity and the components of biodiversity in the region.

There are two main legal implications of publishing bioregional plans:

Firstly, in terms of section 48(2) of NEMBA, an organ of state that must prepare an environmental implementation or environmental management plan in terms of Chapter 3 of the National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (NEMA) and a municipality that must adopt an integrated development plan in terms of the Local Government: Municipal Systems Act, 2000, must

  1. align its plan with any applicable bioregional plan;
  2. incorporate into that plan those provisions of a bioregional plan that specifically apply to it; and
  3. demonstrate in its plan how any applicable bioregional plan may be implemented by that organ of state or municipality.

Secondly, some activities in areas that are identified as Critical Biodiversity Areas in bioregional plans some require environmental authorisation in terms of Listing Notice 3 published under NEMA.

Section 24 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996

Everyone has the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being; and to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that prevent pollution and ecological degradation; promote conservation; and secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development.

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