Coastal management includes cities and rural areas …
South Africa’s National Coastal Management Programme (NCMP) is now underway with the publication of working proposals by the department of environmental affairs (DEA) which was accompanied by a call for public comment.
The estimated contribution of coastal resources to the South African economy is in the order of some R5bn and coastal zones, the document says, are estimated to provide approximately 35% of the country’s GDP. The major coastal cities of Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, East London, Durban, and Richards Bay are affected, all four having experienced the fastest economic growth of all cities in the country.
Preservation and good management of the national coastal areas, says DEAT, is therefore essential if South Africa is to continue to provide the roots for economic development, expansion of the tourism industry and the continued provision of recreational needs. All these factors are created in areas with a very delicate balance of biodiversity, says DEAT.
Maintaining this balance into future generations is seen by DEAT as one of its major challenges, not only for environmental reasons but for economic reasons as well. A further important objective of the NCMP is to maintain the coastal environment to the benefit of threatened poorer communities and to protect their livelihoods.
DEAT says in its forward to the NCMP that South Africa has chosen to embrace a holistic approach, known as integrated coastal management (ICM), which sets out objectives, management procedures and contains the kind of definitions, norms and standards that enable a basic environmental regulatory process to happen.
The purpose of the anchor ICM Act is to maximize on the eco-benefits provided by coastal zones and to minimize the conflicts and harmful effects of human activities upon each other, both in terms of resources that could be lost and any surrounding environmental damage.
The NCMP, DEAT says, is a working document to assist in implementing ICM objectives and lays out in its 106 pages a deliberate programme of national management actions. It is not regulatory but a working guide.
First, it contains a detailed situation analysis related to coastal management in South Africa across the full spectrum of zones within the country’s 3,000 kms of coastline. Then the document looks at the current threats to ecosystems followed by a study of existing localised and national environmental management programmes.
In providing a “national vision”, the NCMP provides a structured approach to engage with the stakeholders, DEAT says, and “a template for future cooperative governance”. It also suggests ways to integrate ICM programmes with localised government, the NCMP therefore expanding with practical programmes based on the ICM Act.
However, DEAT makes it clear in a disclaimer that what is published is neither an amending Bill nor a legal or regulatory process but a guide to programmes which are seen by DEAT as the route to take and which can be necessary in the common interest.
Complimentary to NEMA
To emphasise the co-operative nature of what is put forward, DEAT says in the frontispiece to the NCMP, “This document does not in any way have legal authority or take precedence over the National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act but rather serves as a guideline to the development of coastal management programmes, expanding on the provisions of the Act”.
Public input on this plan is therefore called for by DEAT. Comment can be made until the end of June.
Concurrently, DEAT has also published its White Paper on National Management of the Ocean, the acronym for which is appropriately NEMO.
This, DEAT says, aims to promote the protection and conservation of South Africa’s ocean environment, as well as promoting sustainable development for present and future generations. It refers in its pages to the extent of South Africa’s ocean environment and deals with issues concerning protection and conservation of the ocean environment and resources of the sea.
The White Paper says the department’s approach to the subject will promote and expand sustainable development and optimise investment in managing the large ocean space which is accessible to the country.
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