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Biodiversity Management Plans

Section 43 of the Biodiversity Act empowers any person, organisation or organ of state desiring to contribute to biodiversity management to submit to the Minister a draft biodiversity management plan which is aimed at ensuring the long-term survival of an ecosystem.

Type of protection

The biodiversity management plan does not find effect until it is implemented in terms of a biodiversity management agreement. A biodiversity management agreement is regulated in terms of contract law. Contracts are susceptible to revocation, withdrawal and cancellation

Benefits

  • Protect ecosystems outside protected areas network: Biodiversity plans are usually used to protect ecosystems that fall outside the protected areas network. This is especially useful for those ecosystems which may be affected by mining downstream and which fall outside the protected areas network.
  • Wide protection: Ecosystems which may be subject to a biodiversity plan are both those listed in terms of section 52(1) of the Biodiversity Act, as well as those which are not listed but which warrant special conservation status. The list is therefore a wider list offering protection to a wider range of ecosystems.

Challenges

  • No obligation to draft a biodiversity plan: There is no obligation on any person or organ of state to draft a biodiversity plan, therefore it is done on the basis of voluntary participation.
  • High costs for drafting plan for fair or poor ecosystems: Although a biodiversity plan can be drafted for both ecosystems in an ecologically good, fair or poor state, it costs more to implement a biodiversity plan of an ecologically fair or poor ecosystem as it requires more rehabilitation.
  • Usually not considered by¬† the Department of Mineral Resources when granting mining rights: Although it should inform the decision-making process of officials who wish to develop any land included in a biodiversity plan, the Department of Mineral Resources seldom takes this into consideration.