Towards Rationalisation of Institutional Arrangements of South African Protected Areas Management

Caiphus E Khumalo1, Geoffrey I Cowan1

1Department of Environmental Affairs, 315 Pretorius Street, P/ Bag X 447, Pretoria, 0001


Following the inherited historical institutional arrangements within the environment sector which is predominantly influenced by the political demarcation of the country, today the sector is facing enormous challenges in trying to standardize and rationalize biodiversity conservation governance. This is notably observed on issues of protected areas management policies. The problem has further been exacerbated by the current plethora of national and provincial legislation coupled by international obligations associated with Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEA) – predominantly Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). In response, Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) tirelessly attempts to seek the middle ground to ensure that biodiversity conservation is managed consistently.

DEA being the national office responsible for the sector, to circumvent the above challenges, has developed, and still developing guiding principles on various aspects of the sector. Among others, these include promulgation of National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act (NEM: PAA) which was developed from the policy and strategy for the conservation and sustainable use of South Africa’s (SA) biological diversity. It aims to provide for the protection and conservation of ecological viable areas representative of SA’s biodiversity and its natural land/seascapes by standardizing the declaration of these areas and their management. As such, to achieve rationalization within the sector, it is intended to replace all national and provincial legislation relating to such declaration and management. Subsequently DEA has developed guidelines for the declaration of protected areas and development of management plans.

In recognition of the international obligations within CBD through Programme of Works on Protected Areas (PoWPA) to assess the management effectiveness of PAs, DEA has adapted METT as a compliance monitoring tool.  For the above, national targets had been incorporated into DEA Strategic Plan to ensure that the country meets its international obligation through mobilizing relevant national and provincial conservation agencies for implementation.

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Towards Rationalisation of Institutional Arrangements of South African Protected Areas Management

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