Planning department serious about tackling inequality, spatial injustice and biodiversity conservation
The Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning in the Western Cape is applying some of the most innovative tools available to spatial planners, in ongoing efforts to address the legacies of apartheid in our communities. These tools are referred to as Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
Anton Bredell, the Minister responsible for Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, says Spatial Information Management, forms an integral part of the Department and allows officials to make informed decisions when it comes to planning requirements for the environment, infrastructure, human settlements and economy.
“GIS is designed to capture, analyse, manage, and present spatial or geographic data. This technology allows the Department to better fulfil its role in improving urban and rural areas and enhancing climate change plans,” Bredell says.
The Department has a team of dedicated GIS technicians who are responsible for producing the information which assists the Department with various land use and environmental decision-making. The Department uses GIS technology for various matters including identifying coastal management lines for the Western Cape province.
“These boundaries indicate the limit of development along ecologically sensitive or vulnerable areas, or an area that poses a hazard or risk to humans,” says Marlene Laros, Director responsible for Biodiversity and Coastal Management.
Ayub Mohamed, Chief Director for Environmental Governance, Policy Coordination & Enforcement at the Department adds that GIS is a crucial step in obtaining information related to identifying watercourses, vegetation types, and catchment areas on properties. “We also use aerial photography to corroborate the evidence gathered,” says Mohamed.
Bredell says the Department uses GIS in many innovative ways to the benefit of all communities in the Province. “We can estimate densities of settlements and analyse communities’ access to facilities. On the basis of GIS we can then model the implications of changes to policies in order to make more informed decisions. Making the correct long-term decisions in the most informed manner possible, is one way the Western Cape Government believes we can better address the legacies of apartheid spatial planning in our lifetime.”
The Department celebrates World GIS Day on 13 November 2019.
For more information on our Spatial Information Management sub-directorate and team click here.