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Legal Toolbox

Bioregional Plans

Section 40(1) of the Biodiversity Act empowers the Minister or MEC to determine a geographic region as a bioregion and to publish a bioregion plan for the management of the biodiversity of that region.

Requirements

  1. Before adopting a bioregional plan, the Minister must consult with all Cabinet members whose areas of responsibility may be affected by the exercise of power; and the MEC for Environmental Affairs of each province that may be affected by the exercise of power; and
  2. Follow a public participation process.

Type of protection

The NEMBA Guideline regarding the Determination of Bioregions and the Preparation of and Publication of Bioregional Plans (the NEMBA Guideline) provides that bioregional plans are to be taken into consideration for spatial planning purposes. Bioregional plans “inform land-use planning, environmental assessment and authorisations, and natural resource management by a range of sectors whose policies and decisions impact on biodiversity.”

Benefits

  • Useful tool for informing wide variety of mechanisms: Bioregional plans are intended to inform land-use planning and decision-making by a range of sectors whose policies and decisions impact on biodiversity. By providing a map of biodiversity priorities with accompanying guidelines, these tools help inform land-use planning, environmental assessment and authorisations and natural resource management

Challenges

  • Boundaries of bioregion can be changed: Section 42 empowers the Minister or MEC to change the boundaries of the bioregion where ‘it is necessary’ to do so.
  • Not legally binding: The bioregonal plan is merely a tool that informs the decision-making process of multi-sectoral planning and assessment processes such as Environmental Management Frameworks, Spatial Development Frameworks, Strategic Environmental Assessments and Environmental Impact Assessments.