Commencement of the Western Cape Biodiversity Act, 2021 (Act 6 of 2021)
“The Western Cape Biodiversity Act allows us to modernise our thinking on biodiversity, driven through partnerships with key sectors and communities to promote the protection of our biodiversity while also allowing for development, economic growth, and job creation,” Anton Bredell, Western Cape Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning said.
Minister Bredell said the Biodiversity Act, which was signed into law earlier in November 2021 and which will come into effect in a phased manner. Certain sections of the WCBA have come into effect on 15 November which is an important step towards having a modern environmental management framework that is in step with current realities in the Western Cape, South Africa, and globally. “We are driving proactive approaches to enable the identification, prioritisation and protection and special management measures that can ensure ecological resilience and future-proof our economy and basic needs provided through natural resources”.
Anton Bredell noted: “The Western Cape Province has been anticipating the outcome of the up-and-coming Conference of Parties for the Convention of Biological Diversity which will decide a new Global Biodiversity Framework. This includes some incredible stretch targets that could see the nations across the glove unite to secure the protection off the earth’s biosphere. A critical part of these agreements is Access and Benefit Sharing. The WCBA and its implementation through regulations will enable a transformed biodiversity economy focusing on enabling access to critical resources in an equitable and sustainable and manner.
The WC Biodiversity Act sets out a best practice model for the governance of public entities. This will further enable CapeNature’s successes and ability to pursue the multiple objectives of protection and management of the world-renowned biodiversity and ensure that protected areas enable economic opportunities in local rural economies. CapeNature’s ecotourism product is among the best in the world and has significant opportunity for optimisation and expansion.
In this way it Integrates administrative provisions and institutions for nature conservation and the protection, management and sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystems in the Western Cape Province.
Anton Bredell explained that the proactive protection and investment in ecosystems and ecological infrastructure is a low- to no- risk climate change adaptation strategy ensuring the resilience of people and the economy. Key to this is the optimisation of investment into ecological infrastructure which reduced fire, water and climate risk while bringing a range of job and economic opportunities.
CapeNature and the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (DEA&DP) and will now commence on a public participation process where interested parties will be consulted to formulate several regulations within the Act. Opportunity for participation will be advertised in the near future.