SANBI, DFFE and the CSIR have developed a new Ecosystem Guideline in line with the Terrestrial and Aquatic Biodiversity Protocols that were gazetted last year
On 5 July 2021, the South African National Biodiversity Institute announced that it, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) and the CSIR had developed a Draft Ecosystem Environmental Assessment Guideline (Ecosystem Guideline).
The document provides background to and context on the minimum assessment and reporting criteria contained in the Terrestrial and Aquatic Biodiversity Protocols gazetted on 20 March 2020. The gazetted Protocols for the assessment and minimum report content requirements of environmental impacts for various environmental themes support the use of the national web-based screening tool and the reporting requirements under the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations, 2014 when submitting applications for an environmental authorisation.
Since the theme of this year's World Environment Day is Ecosystem Restoration, the focus on biodiversity and ecosystem conservation and restoration not only presents laudable goals and opportunities from an ESG perspective, but allows governmental authorities the opportunity to step up to the plate to drive the restoration agenda.
The Ecosystem Guideline will help to ensure adequate disclosure of project impacts on receiving environments, and provides guidance on sampling and data collection methodologies pertaining to relevant biodiversity features (which includes detailed guidance for implementing the relevant Terrestrial and Aquatic Biodiversity Protocols by ecologists and any other relevant specialists, as well as competent authorities), to ensure compliance with the minimum legal requirements.
The draft Ecosystem Guideline is available for public comment until 19 July 2021.