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Save the green heart of the West Coast and the Langebaan Lagoon against mining!

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Save the green heart of the West Coast and the Langebaan Lagoon against mining!
  
  

 


Why this is important

Appeal on Mining Rights allocated to Elandsfontein Exploration and Mining on Farm no 349 portion 6 and 4.

Dear Director General
We are a group of concerned community members and South African citizens lodging an appeal on the mining rights which was issued on the 30th of January 2015 and has been signed by 1290 participants.
We appeal this mining right application based on the biodiversity, water and heritage importance of this particular area and state that the NEMA principles were not properly applied here, i.e. first avoid impact, then minimise, then mitigate and lastly off set. There are 10 other phosphate mining applications within the SBM area on land which is less sensitive, where the phosphate mining could rather take place. We also appeal the mining rights granted, based on a flawed Public Participation process, where the process has been untransparent and what was said in public meetings did not correspond to the reports released for commenting. Most notably that EEM said that they will carry on with their application with DEAD&P and not withdraw from the process. This they have done and have applied through the DMR for environmental authorisation. EEM has also stated that the Elandsfontein aquifer does not run into the Langebaan Lagoon even though their reports states differently and Department Water Affairs and Sanitation have released maps to show its flow path into the Langebaan Lagoon, a RAMSAR site. The Cape Floristic Region (CFR) is one of 34 biodiversity hotspots stretching over 94 countries world wide. The significance of the CFR is that it is found almost entirely within the Western Cape province. A unique floral and ecosystem kingdom, found nowhere on Earth but here. Biodiversity hotspots harbors half of the diversity of Earth's land surface, yet only 2.3 % is left of it globally. Most of lowland fynbos has been transformed for agricultural usage and only small pockets remain of intact functioning systems. The specific vegetation type that they will degrade is endemic and endangered. It is for this reason that a $150 000 grant was given to the Cape West Coast Biosphere (CWCBR) to develop a Spatial Framework through the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) through Conservation International. The CWCBR has in turn reported to the CEPF that their Spatial Framework has been incorportated into the municipality's Spatial Development Framework and that it makes up the decision making tool for development for five years i.e. till 2016. The Elandsfontein area also makes up part of the Park Expansion area under the Convention of Biological Diversity to which South Africa is a signed partner and identified within the West Coast National Park Management Plan as signed off by the Minister of Environmental Affairs. Great care and consideration should thus be given in these areas when considering environmentally degradating industries such as mining, we feel that this has not been done in this application. No proper Environmental Impact Assessment was done and no new site specific data collection and research of a peer reviewed quality, which can be published in a scientific journal was done. All the reports released was desktop studies with one to three site visits with regards to Freshwater and Botany studies. We urgently require the Director General to revisit the mining rights granted for EEM as it falls outside of management mandates and to supply us with the full conditions and documentation around this application. We have lodged an appeal with the DMR and DEAD&P based on the flawed Public Participation process in August 2014 and we did not even receive an acknowledgement of receipt or any feedback.
We also appeal the mining rights received based on the fact that they have already started to make the access road that joins the R45 and no “Search and Rescue” of the 11 Red Data Species found on this specific area was done, also no search was done on small animals such as tortoises and lizards and the bulldozers were simply sent in. We also do not observe any Environmental Control Officer on site during the bulldozing. An ECO should be on site continuosly to monitor activities. The general labour contract workers employed to assist in the building of the road are not from the Saldanha Bay area. This is also against the law to employ general labour from outside areas. The workers also stole building sand from the neighbouring farm Langverwacht to fill sand bags with and blocked entry unto Langverwacht.
The granting of mining rights is not in line with the Constitution of South Africa (with special reference to Section 24 of the Bill of Rights), Provincial Spatial Development Framework, the West Coast Biodiversity Sectoral Plan, the Saldanha Bay Municipality Spatial Development Framework, the Draft Environmental Management Framework, the National Environmental Management Act, the Buffer Zone Policy, the Western Cape Biodiversity Bill, the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act, the West Coast National Park Management Plan and the UNESCO Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve Spatial Framework or the Mining and Biodiversity Guidelines.
CapeNature has described the ecosystem as functioning, intact and large enough to adapt to climate change. The land which they will be mining is endangered (although accidently wrongly classified as 'vulnerable') and the aquifer has been labelled through Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation as:
  • geologically complex
  • aquifer dependant lagoon
  • highly vulnerable to anthropogenic change
  • highly susceptible to pollutants
  • strict 'non degradation status'

Elandsfontein falls within a Core 1 Area of the international UNESCO Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve as identified within their Spatial Framework. Core Areas were spatially delineated based on Protected Areas and Critical Biodiversity Areas as indicated in the Biodiversity Sector Plan. Key Biodiversity Areas or Critical Biodiversity areas, are sites selected using standardized, globally applicable, threshold- based criteria, driven by the distribution and population of species that require site-level conservation. The criteria address the two key issues for setting site conservation priorities: vulnerability and irreplaceability. (Eken et al, 2004, Key Biodiversity Areas as Site Conservation Targets, BioScience 54(12):1110-1118).
According to the CWCBR Spatial Framework “Core 1 Areas are those parts of the rural landscape required to meet biodiversity patterns or ecological processes (i.e. critical biodiversity areas). These include habitats classified as highly irreplaceable, critically endangered, or endangered terrestrial (land), aquatic (rivers, wetlands and estuaries) and marine habitats. These also include areas currently not yet1 exhibiting high levels of biodiversity loss, but which should be protected and restored in order to ensure biodiversity pattern and ecological process targets/thresholds can be met in the most efficient way possible. These also include essential biological corridors vital to sustain their functionality. According to the Statutory Provincal Development Framework, Core 1 areas are defined as: “means a terrestrial, aquatic or marine area of high conservation importance (i.e. is highly irreplaceable), that must be protected from change or restored to its former level of functioning. Both public and private ownership is permitted in Core Areas. Privately owned land should be designated either as private nature reserves or under stewardship regulations. There are two types of Core Areas, namely Core 1 areas which have a level of statutory proclamation or designation, and Core 2 areas which have the potential to be brought up to Core Area 1 status.” The Guiding Principle of the PSDF is Sustainable Development and “development is only acceptable and in the public interest if it is ecologically justifiable, socially equitable and economically viable, i.e. environmentally sustainable. This means that the development needs of present generations should be met without the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, being compromised. Sustainable development encompasses the integration of social, economic and ecological factors into planning, decision-making and implementation so as to ensure that development serves present and future generations. It is of crucial importance for the long-term survival of Humankind that all development complies with this principle,” “The three pillars of sustainability, also referred to as the "triple bottom line", are:
  • Ecological integrity (health of the Planet): This refers to the continued wholeness and success of the environment in terms of providing for and sustaining life on Earth or in a subset thereof such as a region or town, and concerns both the natural and human-made environment. Due to the fact that the survival of species, including our own, ultimately depends on the ecology, ecological integrity is then a key factor in the environmental sustainability equation. In this regard it must be remembered that the Western Cape is home to one of the six floral kingdoms of the world.
  • Social equity (situation of the People): Within a secure ecology, society can move towards needs fulfilment for all. Social equity refers to both material human wellbeing (the absence of poverty) and spiritual human wellbeing, i.e. provision of a physical and moral space where the continuity of a complex society and ecology is sought to be maintained and enhanced, and its health attained. In the South African context the concept of social equity is an extremely important component of society as it emphasises the need to redress the wrongs of the past as a central component of social sustainability.
  • Economic efficiency (attainment of Prosperity): If human needs are met, society can seek prosperity through economic efficiency. This refers to the optimisation of benefit at the lowest cost, i.e. optimal development must be achieved at the lowest possible cost – and moreover, to comply with the sustainability principle, taking all costs now and in future into consideration.
These three pillars of sustainability can be viewed as providers of the capital necessary for each subsequent pillar to function. Thus, economic capital is dependent on social capital which is in turn dependent on ecological capital. It is important to note that the nesting of the circles – economic, social and ecological – illustrates that economic and human capital cannot draw more from society and from the ecology than what the ecology and society can yield sustainably in the long term.” The PSDF strives to promote sustainable farming and mining practises (i.e. activities that generate positive socio-economic returns, and do not significantly compromise the environment). A prerequisite for sustainable farming and mining is coherent land use planning and environmental management systems that are aligned with provincial strategic objectives. The PSDF maps based on policy shows that:
  • the Elandsfontein area forms part of an 'priority climate change adaptation corridor'
  • a catchment area,
  • 'most vulnerable municipality with regards to climate change'
  • 'archaeological landscapes of importance'
  • 'inter regional biodiversity corridor'
  • 'Core 1 (CBA and Protected Area)'

The farm Elandsfontein which has been subdivided, is lodged between two sections of the West Coast National Park (Groote Fontein in Hopefield and Kalklip/Langefontein adjacent to the R27). Until recently the farm was run as a private game lodge and nature reserve. South Africa is a signed partner to the Convention on Biological Diversity where we (SA) have undertaken to place 12 % of our land mass under full protection, currently we have 7 % declared. Elandsfontein makes up part of the Park Expansion Plan as signed under the Convention on Biological Diversity. Human survival is entirely dependent on the delivery of ecosystem services,. The maintenance of these ecosystems and their supporting ‘ecological infrastructure’ is a key socio-economic imperative and the degradation or destruction of the natural environment can lead to high socio-economic costs, more so in a biodiversity hotspot. There can be no thriving community or economy within a broken natural system. This is why one of the objectives of the WCNP management plan is 'To ensure the persistence of the Elandsfontein aquifer and the ecological services it provides'. The simple act of strip mining alone has irreversible and permanent environmental impacts.
Strip mining destroys the structure of aquifers and the mine has already indicated that they cannot mitigate this impact (Hopefield meeting). If the structure is destroyed so will its functioning be destroyed, if it cannot function properly it will accelerate climate change impacts. It is a very sensitive system with anthropogenic impacts leading to a slow breakdown of the system. Strip mining destroys the soil chemistry, it changes the landscape functioning, it creates leaching and faster flow of water, minerals and heavy metals and many more impacts,
The mine released a fresh water study report based on the Groene and Sout river upstream from the mine, kilometres away with no sampling of down stream wetlands and states in its executive summary that there will be no impact on the lagoon, with no proof in the text to back this statement up. May I please refer you to the Public Participation Guidelines released by DEAD&P stating that Executive Summaries should be indicative of the main points of the research so that all of the community can understand this. The geohydrological report which was released by GEOSS indicates that the Primary aquifer runs into the Langebaan Lagoon. It is clear that much research still needs to be done, before mining rights within the 'geologically complex' aquifer are granted. The initial reports released are superficial and hurried and thus we invoke the Precautionary Principle to be applied.
Elandsfontein falls within an Environmental Management Zone 1 – keep assets intact according to the Saldanha Bay Municipality and a Priority Natural Area. According to the Draft Environmental Framework, this EMZ is based on resources that are considered critical in maintaining the quality of life of people living in the study area and the economic activity of the area, as well as protecting assets that represent either natural or cultural heritage for current and future generations. This is in accordance with the environmental right in the Constitution and the NEMA principles. EMZ 1 areas has been identified to protect and give effect to our Constitutional rights. A healthy natural resource base is also fundamental to the realisation of socio-economic rights. Within EMZ 1, extractive and consumptive activities are not allowed and top of the list is mining activities as it will push the system over limits of acceptable change. According to the SBM a further 10 activities on this list must then also take place for this mine to see the light of day. The Draft EMF states the following with regards to Priority Natural Areas “...for conserving biodiversity pattern and process, on which the long term survival of the Park depends and which could be incorporated into an expanded Park ...Ploughing of natural veld, development beyond existing transformation footprints, urban expansion, intensification of land use (through golf estates etc) should be opposed within this area. Dam construction, loss of riparian vegetation and excessive aquifer exploitation should be opposed. In addition, the control of alien vegetation, the control of soil erosion, and appropriate land care (e.g. appropriate stocking rates) should be promoted. Developments with site specific impacts (e.g. a lodge on a game farm) should be favourably viewed if they contribute to ensuring conservation friendly land use within a broader area” With regards to catchment protection for hydrological processes “...Dam construction, loss of riparian vegetation and excessive aquifer exploitation should be opposed.”
The West Coast National Park Management Plan was signed into affect by the Minister of Environmental Affairs stating; “This management plan is hereby internally accepted and authorised as required for managing the West Coast National Park in terms of Sections 39 and 41 of the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act (Act 57 of 2003).” One of the management objectives of the document is to ensure the persistence of the Elandsfontein aquifer and the ecological services it provide. With regards to mining the management plan states that “Mining applications in the buffer zone are treated in terms of the buffer zone policy by both SANParks and the CWCBR.” The Buffer zone policy (Published under Government Notice 106 in Government Gazette 35020. Commencement date: 8 February 2012), indicates that the Elandsfontein aquifer is a catchment area that should be protected. It highlights mining as an undesirable activity within the buffer zone of the National Park and calls on “all three spheres of government to collaborate to ensure control in favour of the national park.” With spectial emphasis on Goals 1 -7 from the buffer zone policy with regards to the management of the Buffer Zone in light off a mining application.
Elandsfontein has been identified as a Priority Natural Area and a Catchment area in both the West Coast National Park Management Plan as well as the Saldanha Bay Municipality Environmental Management Framework and Spatial Development Plan. The West Coast District Biodiversity Sectoral Plan indicates that the loss of biodiversity through disturbance or development has impacts on ecosystem functioning, thereby reducing the delivery of ecosystem services. For example, the loss of this natural vegetation can also impact on nearby agricultural crops as it results in a reduction in habitat for insect pollinators, thereby leading to smaller harvests with fewer jobs and greater poverty. The farmers in this area shares a connective natural veld from the R45 to the Langebaan Lagoon. In this area; bee, game, flowers and small scale subsistence grain and livestock farmers utilise this area for their livelihoods, many of which are dependant on the Elandsfontein aquifer. The geologically complex groundwater and aquifer system maintains the biodiversity and wetlands in this area and the people and the land is interdependant on its functioning if you look at it from an ecosystem approach . If the physical structure and thus functioning are impacted, it will cause a ripple effect on the land around it. The MBG (MBG) adopts the ‘ecosystem approach’, recommended by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), that looks at people and their socio-economic environment as an integral part of the broader ecosystem of living and non-living components. This approach helps to assess the interdependencies between people and nature, and thus to identify impacts and risks, thereby facilitating good decision making. What work has been done by the mine, to understand the interdependencies of the community and the environment of this area? The BSP also points out that “It is known that natural systems can bear increasing burdens without revealing any decline in their own functioning before they reach a critical point, after which they collapse. Because this critical point cannot always be predicted, the National Framework for Sustainable Development of 2008 recommends that two principles be adopted. The precautionary principle states that the absence of scientific certainty should not be used as a reason to postpone cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation. The preventative principle states that decision-makers should foresee and avert adverse impacts, or minimise these impacts on ecosystems, and restore or fix these effects.” The MBG which is an agreement signed by the Ministers of Environmental Affairs and Mineral Resources states that: “South Africa’s mineral and petroleum endowment is considerable. The extraction of these resources should be designed to benefit the country and its people and is governed by the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (No. 28 of 2002) (hereafter referred to as the MPRDA). The Department of Mineral Resources (DMR), custodian of these resources on behalf of South Africans, “must seek to achieve ‘orderly and ecologically’ sustainable development” “...South Africa also has an extremely rich endowment of biodiversity and associated ecosystem services. The large variety of ecosystems and species, along with the services they provide, underpin many of South Africa’s economic sectors and contribute substantially to job creation. Although the financial benefits may not immediately appear as substantial as those from mining, the country’s biodiversity provides significant and often unaccounted for benefits, without which economic growth and development would not be possible. Development in an ‘orderly and ecologically sustainable’ manner should not be understood as opposed to social and economic development, but as fundamentally underpinning it. Unfortunately the importance of biodiversity in underpinning social and economic development is often undervalued or not reflected in market transactions and is therefore poorly integrated into decision making about sustainable development of mineral resources.” The Mining and Biodiversity Guidelines recognises that certain impacts are unavoidable but provides guidance as to where mining is prohibited, where different types of biodiversity priority areas may constitute a barrier to mining, and where biodiversity considerations may limit the options for mining. This Guideline sets out to integrate relevant biodiversity information into decision making about mining options and how best to avoid, minimise or remedy biodiversity impacts caused by mining, and in so doing support ecologically, economically and socially sustainable development. The MBG mapped the Elandsfontein area as a Critical Biodiversity Area and that it has the highest risk for mining. The Biodiversity Sectoral Plan further states that “If sustainable development is to be achieved, no CBA or part thereof should be impacted or disturbed in any way. Any disturbance or conversion of habitat within a CBA means either 1) the irretrievable loss of an important ecological feature or part or whole of a corridor or 2) more land will be required in order to meet the same threshold.” Although CBA Maps do not grant or take away existing land-use rights. They are intended to inform proposed land-use changes in order to achieve sustainable development. Just as a deposit of phosphate does not need to be declared in order to be a deposit of phosphate, so is it with CBAs. CBAs are not a communication document to be accepted but the real life geographical depiction of important biodiversity features still left in tact. Each municipality are required to have a bioregional plan, The Biodiversity Sector Plan is the forerunner to any future bioregional plans in terms of Chapter 3 of the NEMBA. It stilll needs to undergo further legal, administrative and public consultation procedures in order to qualify as a formally published bioregional plan, but all bioregional plans will be based on the Biodiveersity Sectoral Plan. Bioregional plans feeds into the Environmental Sector planning as required by the NEMBA (10 of 2004). This means that multi-sectoral planning procedures which consider all available sector plans (biodiversity, agricultural, mining, economic, social etc.) in order to make informed decisions and promote sustainable development. IDPs and SDFs are examples of multi-sectoral planning tools. This basically means that there are other processes in progress which are the forerunner to mining applications and multi-sectoral planning should be incorporated, before a CBA is zoned into Industry III.
The Spatial Development Frameworks (SDF) is a legally binding spatial framework that promotes sustainable environmental, economic and social development in a municipality. Municipalities are obliged to develop maps, termed Spatial Development Frameworks, which indicate desired patterns of land-use and provide strategic guidance in the location and nature of development and conservation. An SDF is the spatial depiction of an Integrated Development Plan (IDP). Such a plan and framework must ensure sustainability (Section 26 of the Municipal Systems Act (Act No. 32 of 2000). The West Coast District Integrated Development Plan states that the SBM is “ A vulnerable ecological context that creates a need for ecologically sensitive development.” The IDP also highlights limited water resources and the effects of climate change on the region as one of the areas Threats. Mining a non-renewable resource within an 5-10 million year old aquifer that plays a critical role in the maintenance of the Langebaan Lagoon with a 50 m buffer from a National Park is simply put not sustainable and this is another reason for objection, the fact that it does not ensure sustainability as stated in Section 26 of the Municipal Systems Act (Act No. 32 of 2000).
Nick Helme identified 17 Red Data species on the site. Red data species are all known plant or animal species which have been assessed and classified according to their potential for extinction in the near future. This categorization is listed in the Red Data Book as Extinct, Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable or Least Concern. The terms Red Data species or Red data listed species are however colloquially used to refer to species which are either Extinct, Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable. These species are protected by law under provincial ordinances, the NEMA, and the Biodiversity Act. Extractive activities accelerates the threat of extinction of these species.
Objection based on Heritage importance – The Provincial Heritage Site Nomination form was handed in on the 21st of February 2012: Name of Property: Elandsfontein Private Nature Reserve Farm Elandsfontyn 349, off the R27. The nomination is for the entire Elandsfontein. It states that it is significant for a Grade 2 Heritage area based on the following criteria:
  • High Sphere of significance (International, National, Provincial, Regional, Local and for Specialists groups and community)
  • Importance in the evolution of cultural landscapes and settlement patterns
  • Importance in exhibiting density, richness or diversity of cultural features illustrating the human occupation and evolution of the nation, Province, region or locality.
  • Importance for association with events, developments or cultural phases that have had a significant role in the human occupation and evolution of the nation, Province, region or community.
  • Importance for information contributing to a wider understanding of natural or cultural history by virtue of its use as a research site, teaching
  • Importance for information contributing to a wider understanding of the origin of life; the development of plant or animal species, or the biological or cultural development of hominid or human species.
  • Importance for its potential to yield information contributing to a wider understanding of the history of human occupation of the nation, Province, region or locality
  • Importance for rare, endangered or uncommon structures, landscapes or phenomena
  • Importance in demonstrating the principal characteristics of human activities (including way of life, philosophy, custom, process, land-use, function, design or technique) in the environment of the nation, Province, region or locality.
The significance of this site is established on the basis of the rarity of occurrences of this age (nationally and globally), with excellent preservation of faunal remains and stone artefacts on an ancient land surface (s). In Appendix C of the Motivation for Declaration of PH site it states: “ Heritage Resources The archaeology of the larger Saldanha area reflects almost the entire sequence of human occupation in the Western Cape, however the greatest significance lies in the Pleistocene fossil fauna and associated archaeology. Indications are that this area is one of the richest sites of its kind in Africa (Braun pers comm.). Indications are that the distribution of Pleistocene archaeology and fossils at Elandsfontein is extensive. The heritage resources at this site are significant enough for this site to be graded as a Grade 2 site, a Provincial Heritage Site.
Mining Threat The phosphate deposit which lies under Elandsfontein and potentially extends southwards under the boundaries of the neighbouring West Coast National Park, contains a very high grade of low arsenic content phosphate that is suitable for use in the food industry. Phosphate of this grade is scarce and of very high commercial value. This significant archaeological and palaeontological site is therefore consistently threatened by mining. Provincial Heritage Site status will communicate clearly and definitively that the heritage community and agencies consider this site to be a major and important heritage asset that warrants serious and focused conservation attention from all parties. Provincial Heritage Site status will immediately provide the full protection to the sites described in the National Heritage Resources Act (1999).”
Ronald Singer in 1954 thus commented in his article about the Saldanha skull that “It seems that this fossil site may at one time have been a large vlei or lagoon continuous or contiguous with one of the mouths of the large rivers that open into the sea 12 miles away. The site at “Elandsfontein” which extends over an area of approximately two square miles is not an isolated one, as I have already explored two similar fossil-bearing locations, one on each side of this farm, lying in series with it parallel to the coastline. It may yet be shown that all these sites are segments of one massive geographical fossil area.” This is significant based on the fact that phosphate is fossils. Water – The objective of the West Coast National Park as set out in their management plan and accepted and signed off by the Minister of Environmental Affairs states, “To ensure the persistence of the Elandsfontein Aquifer and the ecological services it provides.” The management plan of the WCNP then also makes up part of the implementing principles of Environmental Management Zones. The document, Aquifer Dependent Ecosystems in Key Hydro-geological Typesettings in South Africa done by Water Research Commission states that “Langebaan lagoon is an example of an aquifer dependent lagoon as groundwater inflow at the southern end is the only source of freshwater for this system. The discharge zone from a coastal sand and calcrete aquifer, the Elandsfontein aquifer, is greatest where the aquifer is thickest in an in filled palaeo-channel... The vegetation seen in the lagoon is in fact typical of an estuary, therefore Langebaan lagoon may be an aquifer-fed estuary.” The SBM EMF states that “ The Elandsfontein Aquifer eventually seeps into the Langebaan Lagoon.” and that “excessive aquifer exploitation should be opposed”. The Western Cape Reconciliation Strategy (in looking for viable groundwater extraction points within the Sandveld aquifers) has stated that “ the Elandsfontein aquifer is situated adjacent to the ecologically sensitive Langebaan Lagoon, where subterranean outflows from the aquifer occur. The source is potentially extremely environmentally sensitive.” CapeNature has commented on this application that “the vegetation on site consists mostly of Saldaha Flats Strandveld and Hopefield Sand Fynbos with some elements of Saldanha Limestone Strandveld. Although the List of Threatened Ecosystems published at the end of 2011 under the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (NEMBA) lists Saldanha Flats Strandveld as Vulnerable (and no longer Endangered as listed by the South African Vegetation Map 2006) CapeNature has recently undertaken to reinvestigate the remaining extent of these vegetation types. It was found that Saldanha Flats Strandveld only has 36% of its original extent remaining – it thus meets the criteria for listing as Endangered in terms of Section 52 of the Biodiversity Act.” South Africa's Fifth National Report to the Convention on Biological Diversity issued in 2014, states that pressures on terrestrial ecosystems include loss and degradation of natural habitat, invasive alien species, pollution and waste, and climate change. However, outright loss of natural habitat resulting from conversion of natural vegetation for cultivation, mining, forest plantations and urban expansion is regarded as the main pressure. We further request a stop work order as no Environmental Impact Assessment has been done on the road, connecting with the R45, in terms of the Buffer Zone Policy the purpose of a buffer zone is to:
  • Protect the purpose and values of the national park, which is to be explicitly defined in the management plan submitted in terms of section 39(2) of the Act;
  • Protect important areas of high value for biodiversity and/or to society where these extend beyond the boundary of the Protected Area;
National park buffer zones, defined in the park management plans, will be considered special areas in terms of section 24(2)(b) of the National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (Act No. 107 of 1998) (NEMA). All development in the buffer zone requiring an environmental authorisation in terms of the NEMA, will be subject to an environmental impact assessment process at national level. The Department's decision will be informed by the management authority of the potential impact on the national park. In addition, consideration of the cumulative and secondary impacts on biological diversity of development proposals, and the reversibility of proposed actions over time, will be integrated into regional planning processes and environmental impact assessment procedures. To establish buffer zones around each national park, Government will— a) Identify buffer zones for all national parks in park management plans; b) Establish these buffer zones by publication in the Gazette; c) Integrate the buffer zones into municipal spatial development frameworks as special control/natural area where appropriate; and d) Where necessary or appropriate, declare the buffer zones or parts thereof as protected environments in terms of the Act. Buffer zones has been identified and integrated into the municipal spatial development framework. Clearly there is a governmental mandate process at work here which is the forerunner of a mining application. 1The Biodiversity Sector Plan is provided on DVD and is also available from the BGIS Unit on (021) 799 8738 or downloadable from their website www.bgis.sanbi.org (South Africa’s biodiversity portal)

Posted June 3, 2014
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