An analysis of wetlands related policy and legislative framework : exploring policy interplay across environment, agriculture and water sectors in South Africa against the Ramsar Convention framework

Thobile, Mthiyane A. (2020-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2020.

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY : Wetlands are multifaceted and dynamic ecosystems that offer essential services to both the environment and societies globally. South Africa has recognised this value by committing to the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, especially as Waterfowl Habitat, also known as the Ramsar Convention and its principles of wise use of wetlands, amongst others, as a Contracting Party in 1975. In the present trajectory of declining wetland ecosystems, South Africa has honored its commitment to wetland protection, conservation and wise use by building a solid legal foundation. A variety of legal measures and instruments have been formulated to ensure the realization of the environmental right in the new democratic dispensation. However, the array of legislation governing wetland management has resulted in unintended fragmented approaches to wetland management which has weakened the effectiveness of the legal framework. This study explores the interplay across the environment, agriculture and water sectors by analyzing the South African wetland related policy and legislative framework, with a focus on the legal regime. Through employing a qualitative analysis and purposefully selecting nine national laws which have provisions relating to wetland management from the identified sectors, this study revealed that the South African legal regime which is relevant to wetlands generally supports the implementation of the selected Ramsar Convention measures. The study further revealed a strong cohesion in the national laws governing wetlands with respect to the legal protection and conservation of wetlands as can been seen on the objectives of the various legislation that were analysed. This cohesion in the national laws is also a result of environmental protection being one of the constitutional rights, which makes it a guaranteed right in South Africa. The thesis recommends a review of the national legislation to ensure a more coordinated approach across all sectors in the planning requirements, cooperative governance and inconsistent approaches to regulating declaration of different types of wetlands and related areas as protected areas. The study recommendations can be systematically implemented through the proposed national wetland policy that is being initiated in South Africa, once it is in place.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Vleilande is veelsydige en dinamiese ekostelsels wat wêreldwyd noodsaaklike dienste aan die omgewing, sowel as die samelewing bied. Suid-Afrika het hierdie waarde erken deur hom as kontrakterende party in 1975 aan die Konvensie van Vleilande van Internasionale Belang, veral as watervoëlhabitat, ook bekend as die Ramsar-konvensie, en sy beginsels van onder meer die wyse gebruik van vleilande, te verbind. Met die huidige agteruitgang in vleiland-ekostelsels, het Suid-Afrika sy verbintenis tot die beskerming, bewaring en wyse gebruik van vleilande gestand gedoen deur ‟n stewige regsgrondslag te bou. ‟n Verskeidenheid wetlike maatreëls en instrumente is saamgestel om die verwesenliking van hierdie omgewingsreg in die nuwe demokratise bedeling te verseker. Hierdie verskeidenheid van wetgewing rakende die bestuur van vleilande het egter aanleiding gegee tot onbedoelde gefragmenteerde benaderings tot die bestuur van vleilande en dié het die doeltreffendheid van die wetlike raamwerk verswak. Hierdie studie ondersoek die wisselwerking tussen die omgewing-, landbou- en watersektore deur die Suid-Afrikaanse vleilandverwante beleid en wetgewende raamwerk te ontleed, met die klem op die regsregime. Deur ‟n kwalitatiewe ontleding toe te pas en doelbewus nege nasionale wette uit die bovermelde sektore, met bepalings rakende vleilande, te selekteer, toon hierdie studie dat die relevante Suid-Afrikaanse regsregime vir vleilande oor die algemeen die uitvoering van die geselekteerde Ramsar-verdragsmaatreëls ondersteun. Hierdie studie het voorts ‟n stewige samehang in nasionale wetgewing getoon wat betref die wetlike beskerming en bewaring van vleilande – dié blyk ook uit die oogmerke van die verskeidenheid wetgewing wat van naderby bekyk is. Dit word ook toegeskryf aan die feit dat omgewingsbeskerming een van die grondwetlike regte is en derhalwe ‟n gewaarborgde reg in Suid-Afrika is. Die tesis vra dat die nasionale wetgewing hersien word om ‟n meer gekoördineerde benadering te verseker in alle sektore wat betref die beplanningsvereistes, samewerkende bestuur en teenstrydige benaderings rakende die regulering van die verklaring van verskillende soorte vleilande en relevante gebiede tot beskermde gebiede. Die aanbevelings van hierdie studie kan stelselmatig geïmplementeer word wanneer die voorgestelde nasionale vleilandbeleid, wat op die oomblik in Suid-Afrika geïnisieer word, in plek is.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/108055
This item appears in the following collections: