The MEC for the Eastern Cape Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Sakhumzi Somyo, has gazetted the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality’s Bioregional Plan. In doing so, the Eastern Cape province broke new ground, being the first in the country to gazette a bioregional plan!
”The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Executive Mayor is so excited and congratulates his staff for being diligent and consistent in ensuring that the Bioregional Plan becomes the fundamental spatial layer for spatial planning in the municipality. This is also consistent with our climate change objectives of establishing a climate resilient city through the maintenance of our biodiversity corridors and ecological processes”, said Joram Mkosana, Senior Director: Environmental Management at Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality (NMBM).
The purpose of a bioregional plan is to inform land-use planning and decision-making by a range of sectors whose policies and decisions impact on biodiversity. This is done through providing a map of biodiversity priorities with accompanying guidelines that inform land-use planning, environmental assessment and authorisations, and natural resource management.
Bioregional plans are intended to feed into a range of multi-sectoral planning and assessment processes such as Environmental Management Frameworks, Spatial Development Frameworks, Strategic Environmental Assessments and Environmental Impact Assessments. The bioregional plan should be used by all sectors that are involved in land-use planning and decision making as well as in multi-sectoral planning.
The National Environmental Management Act (NEMA; Act No. 107 of 1998) requires that all organs of state must take biodiversity considerations into account in their decision-making. The bioregional plan supports the principles of integrated development planning and sustainable development espoused by NEMA by identifying the biodiversity priority areas in the municipality, as well as other natural areas that could potentially be made available for other land-uses.
To give effect to these principles, the NMBM Bioregional Plan was developed simultaneously with the municipality’s Spatial Development Framework, which is a spatial articulation of the municipality's Integrated Development Plan, in order to identify an optimal balance between biodiversity conservation and other sectoral needs.
The NMBM's Bioregional Plan was first drafted in 2009, in partnership with the provincial Department of Economic Development and Environmental Affairs, the national Department of Environmental Affairs and the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI).
Bioregional plans are enabled by the Biodiversity Act (ActNo. 10 of 2004), and were highlighted as a priority action in the National Biodiversity Framework (2009). The identification of priority biodiversity and actions to protect and or manage priority biodiversity appropriately demonstrate South Africa's commitment in terms of international agreements such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (1993) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to which the country are party.