Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa has invited public comment on the norms and standards for biodiversity management plans for ecosystems (BMP-E), says the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs.
“The purpose of these norms and standards is to guide the development of BMP-E, providing a consistent approach to BMP-E across the country while being sufficiently flexible to accommodate the variability of ecosystems and their management requirements,” the Ministry says in a statement.
These norms and standards for BMP-E have been designed for terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems and are not intended for estuarine and marine ecosystems. They may, however, be suitable for some marine ecosystems.
The National Environmental Manage-ment: Biodiversity Act (10 of 2004) provides for building management plans (BMPs) to be developed and published for an ecosystem, an indigenous species or a migratory species. While the Act provides broad requirements for BMPs, it is not specific about the content or the process of developing a BMP.
The South African National Biodiversity Institute, through a participatory process including scientists and stakeholders, has developed norms and standards for BMP-E.
The norms and standards outline certain criteria for the development of BMP-E for which two filters are used, namely ecosystems of special concern, including listed ecosystems and other ecosystems of special concern, and ecosystems in which management interventions can make a difference.
“Since ecosystem boundaries are often inherently fuzzy and there is no single correct delineation for most of them, these norms and standards also provide guidance on how ecosystems should be delineated,” the Ministry says.
“Usually, the delineation of an ecosystem for a BMP-E will be determined primarily by where the management actions for that ecosystem need to take place and they are likely to be on a local scale rather than a large scale. However, it is proposed that large areas which are severely degraded, or where natural habitat has been irreversibly lost, must be excluded from the delineation of an ecosystem for the purpose of a BMP-E.”
People are invited to submit written comments to the Minister within 30 days after publication of the notice in the Government Gazette. Written comments may be submitted to the director-general of the Department of Environmental Affairs.
Anyone who would like to contribute to biodiversity management may submit a draft BMP to the Minister. A BMP-E must be developed for a minimum period of five years but may be developed for a longer period, subject to review every five years.
Further, a BMP-E must contain information relating to the biodiversity significance of the ecosystem, a justification of why a BMP is warranted and the five- year management objectives that are related to long-term biodiversity objectives, including indicators for assessing whether the management objectives are being met. A brief monitoring report might also be drawn up, at least yearly, to form part of the five-year review process, the Ministry says.