Working for Fire model, Oceans Economy Lab, Biodiversity Lab and Rhino Lab: Department briefing

Environment, Forestry and Fisheries

18 October 2016
Chairperson: Mr M Motimele (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) briefed the Committee on several of its initiatives. The Working on Fire (WoF) initiative was started to try to establish a coherent approach to wildfire management. The DEA decided to employ an implementing agent for the WoF Programme and the contract was awarded to Kishugu (previously known as FFA Operations (Pty) Ltd). Kishugu outlined its business structure, demographics and major accomplishments which included fire fighting, fire prevention, community education and overseas deployment of its workers, in the last year, to Canada and Indonesia. However, Members were not happy with the presentation, firstly because it was extremely brief and did not provide proper breakdowns of figures, describe how the bid and tender were structured and what were the challenges and lessons learned, nor whether all branches of the business worked under the Expanded Public Works Programme model, and secondly because the presentation had failed to address the media interest and criticism of South Africa arising from the Canadian exchange. Despite Kishugu claiming that the South Africans received their own salaries and a stipend, there were reports that in fact they had not been paid minimum wage, had been expected to work very long hours and were poorly treated. Members wanted a special briefing at which all questions would be put and answered so that the answers on these points would stand over. Other questions by Members related to the position of the fire-fighters currently hired, should Kishugu's contract not be renewed, the need to strive for even more than 31% women representation, why there did not appear to be a presence in Northern Cape, why there was such a large presence in Western Cape, what lessons had been learned from the Working for Water programme, and where the mandate derived. Members wanted to hear more about procurement, transformation targets, the costs of the awareness programme which seemed very high, how it would address labour disputes, how many fires it had not managed to get to, and and noted that quality requirements and mandates still needed to be clarified.

The Department of Environmental Affairs then briefed the Committee on the Oceans Economy Lab, which had been set up in recognition of the immense economic potential of South Africa's oceans to contribute to the GDP and job creation. It was jointly managed by the DEA and the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation. The main priorities covered marine transport and manufacturing, offshore oil and gas exploration, aquaculture, marine protection, small harbour development and coastal and marine tourism. Each of these was described in more detail, with the achievements. Members asked if there had been any investigations into ocean pollution levels, wanted to know what roles were played by different spheres of government, how the public became involved, and how offshore oil and gas would be monitored. They asked for timeframes for legislation to deal with environmental concerns and the progress of the Oceans Management Act. Further questions addressed responsibility for oil spills, initiatives and bursaries for women, and what the constraints were in the aquaculture division. Members also asked why so few vessels were docking in South African ports in comparison to the numbers passing through and the limitations of the ship repair industry were explained.

The DEA then briefed the Committee on the Biodiversity Lab, created in response to the recognition that South Africa's biodiversity was also a good source from which to build transformation initiatives and grow the economic potential of natural resources. Three areas had been prioritised: marine and coastal tourism, bio-prospecting and wildlife, and 29 initiatives comprising 3 000 activities were created. Again, more specific explanations were given on these streams, with a description of the challenges and blocks to growth and transformation. These included short supply of raw materials, limited demands and complex regulatory systems in relation to biological resources, coupled with lack of knowledge and involvement of communities at various points along the value chain. Wildlife challenges included the risk that growth would not be maintained and lack of support and an enabling environment. Several priorities had been isolated, which would support new entrants, funding models, increase capacity and support, create linkages in supply chain and prioritise support to small enterprises. Amendments to the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act were planned and the Wildlife Forum would be repositioned. SANParks would be assisting with the programme through partnership agreements. Although several departments were involved in the strategy and legislation around bio-prospecting, gaps had been identified and the DEA was now proposing a network of partnerships to deal with this. Legislative gaps had also been identified. The Department of Tourism offered some input and said that the tourism from coastal and marine sectors could reach R43.3 billion contribution to GDP by 2030. Marketing, safety, access and skills, restrictive visas and excessive and lengthy permit process were hindering growth. Members expressed dissatisfaction that the pack of slides they had received was not the same as the slides presented which meant that they were not prepared to ask questions.

Finally, DEA briefed the Committee on the Rhino Lab, which had arisen out of conversations during the setting up of the Biodiversity Lab in recognition that rhino conservation perhaps needed a separate and specialist approach, in conjunction with the Departments of Home Affairs and Police. 44 initiatives were developed to assist with enforcement, including anti-trafficking and anti-poaching, community empowerment, demand management, responsive legislation and management of the rhino population. One stream would focus on intelligence, detection and prosecution. Community empowerment was recognised as immensely important since several communities had expressed willingness to get involved in the solutions, which would also raise the profile of the communities in  public, private, civil and traditional leadership sectors. Demand management was an important aspect, as was moving of populations to safer places. Members asked if the DEA had a contingency plan should the Constitutional Court find in favour of the Private Rhino Owners Association challenge  to the proposals for a seven-year ban on the domestic trade in rhino horn. Members asked if the creation of synthetic rhino horn would not merely perpetuate the cultural beliefs, and the Chairperson suggested that specific anti-poaching legislation was needed. 

Meeting report

Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) briefings:
Working on Fire (WoF) Model

Ms Nosipho Ngcaba, Deputy Director General, Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA or the Department) commenced with a brief introduction into the Working on Fire (WoF) initiative. This programme was necessitated by the lack of a coherent approach to wildfire management, which became most evident when Working for Water (WfW) workers attempted to outrun a wild fire in the Craggs. Four WfF workers were killed and nine were seriously injured.  

WoF is not just regarded as a fire management process, but also plays a key role in eco-system management in most biomes of South Africa, especially in regard to productive use of land. WoF is implemented under the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) and has a footprint in all nine provinces in the country. Ms Ngcaba noted that the Department had taken a conscious decision to employ an implementing agent for the WoF programme because it was believed that it would be better to give this mandate to an agency which already had the necessary equipment, instead of the Department needing to acquire it. Essentially a public entity was envisaged.

National Treasury (NT) agreed to allow a seven year partnership agreement with an implementing agent, and DEA proceeded to invite tender bids from all stakeholders. Tender bids were received from: Resotec Africa Import Export, Western Cape Emergency Service, SG Fire Services and FFA Operations (Pty) Ltd. When considering the award the DEA had considered elements such as whether the bidding entities were proposing realistic budgets and whether they had the necessary equipment and human resources. Bidding entities were also required to have knowledge of the EPWP and to have firm track records. After a detailed review the tender was awarded to FFA Operations (Pty) Ltd, currently known as Kishugu. Governance oversight is still exercised over Kishugu by the DEA. This is conducted via quarterly reporting and all Kishugu plans and budgets require approval from the DEA. The Natural Resource Management Executive Committee ensures that Kishugu complies with the contract, monitors progress, and considers all matters relevant to WoF. Furthermore, two DEA officials participate in various WoF committees as another oversight mechanism. She explained that given the amount of money required, monitoring was imperative. Although oversight and monitoring is not a legislative requirement, the DEA continues to do this to ensure that public funds are well spent.

Mr Trevor Abrahams, Divisional Director: Business Development, Kishugu, continued with the presentation. He noted the rationale behind the name change; FFA (Forest Fire Association) Operations (Pty) Ltd had renamed itself Kishugu, which is Ki Swahili for ‘anthill’, which created the impression of many people working together to create something bigger than the individuals. Kishugu abides by the logic behind this. It does not only limit activities to forest fires.

He noted that the majority of Kishugu employees are from previously disadvantaged backgrounds and those who have been employed for more than five years have received employment shares. Kishugu was p a level 2 BEE contributor, had hosted the World Fire Congress and many of its workers' skills are required internationally, such as in Canada and Indonesia.

He noted that although Kishugu had admittedly missed annual targets twice, it had, overall, exceeded targets many more times. In September 2016, Kishugu workers fought 30 fires in Western Cape, 120 in the Eastern Cape, 113 in Kwa Zulu Natal, 54 in the Free State, 11 in North West, 170 in Gauteng, 69 in Mpumalanga and 75 in Limpopo.

Turning to the internal structure, he noted that 91% of the workers are African, 9% coloured, and 3% disabled. 31% of workers are female, which is the highest in any fire fighting programme in the world. Furthermore, heavy emphasis is placed on training. Workers are assessed yearly and receive a yellow card if they pass their assessments. Workers who do not have a yellow card are not allowed to attend to fires.

Mr Abrahams noted that the major accomplishments of Kishugu include fire prevention, educating communities on fire prevention, and its research and rehabilitation capacity. In order to educate the community, 463 workshops were held, and 833 schools were visited resulting in 80 563 learners receiving valuable fire prevention education. Kishugu also has a WoF TV news channel on YouTube educating the community on fire prevention.

He added that a team of workers was sent to Canada last year, in May and July, and to Indonesia in November. For those visiting Canada, they remained employees of Kishugu and received their South African salary but were also given an overseas allowance of CAD$50 a day and their board and lodging was paid for. They earned more than the Canadians did as a result. The surplus in the allocations was put back into the WoF programme. R1.7 million was budgeted for deployment to Canada and R567 002 for Indonesia.

The Chairperson stated that he was very disappointed that the Committee had received only a three-slide explanation of the Canadian experience. A detailed report covering the experience from inception to end, including financial statements, had been expected. He would have expected to learn how the Canadians requested assistance, what issues arose, how the issues were resolved, what lessons were learnt from the experience and how Kishugu plans for future deployment. The Committee was required to issue a statement. The media had raised questions on this exercise, since South Africa did not have a good image in Canada from the 2015 deployment. There had been reports that South African workers had not wanted to work after only three days and it seemed that part of the problem was that they were not treated properly and were paid too little. However, the Committee had been unable to speak to the issues because it lacked information. The Committee therefore needed far more engagement. Should Canada, which is prone to veld fires, require assistance again, the Committee needed to know what plans had been put in place to improve the experience.

Ms H Nyambi (ANC) enquired as to what will happen to current fire-fighters if the Kishugu contract is not renewed. She noted that 31% of the employees are women, but urged that still more women need to be employed.


Ms J Edwards (ANC) agreed that it was disappointing that the Committee was only getting the report on the Canadian experience a year later. It was billed by the media as an international disaster. In Alberta, the minimum wage is apparently CAD$11 but South African workers received CAD$4. Although their accommodation was provided, they had worked extremely long hours and the manner in which they were treated was ‘disgusting’. She pointed out that the money had been allocated to the workers and it was necessary to get a full report on how it was spent. It was also shocking that a Canadian representative sided with the workers, yet Canada asked for the South African workers to be sent back. She wondered how then Kishugu planned to heal and strengthen relationships between Canadian and South African fire-fighting forces.

The Chairperson indicated that perhaps all Canadian-related questions should stand over until the Committee had received a report and full presentation from Kishugu.

Mr P Mabilo (ANC) stated that physically the Northern Cape is the largest province in the country but there seems to be no fire fighting presence there.

Dr Guy Preston, Deputy Director General, DEA, stated that there is capacity in the Northern Cape but it is linked to the Free State, because generally the Northern Cape is not as prone to fires.

Mr Mabilo knew that Working for Water (WfW) is a successful programme and wished to know whether Kishugu learnt anything from the success of WfW which could be implemented in WoF.

Ms Ngcaba assured Members that WoF had learnt a lot from WfW in terms of pro active ecosystem management. Through WfW, various vegetation areas had been identified and the times when controlled fires were needed were marked. However, WoF cannot rely on WfW reaction mechanisms, as this would require it to seek permission. Consequently, whilst some of the lessons were applied, others did not apply due to the differing mandates.

Mr Mabilo also wanted to know what would happen to the fire-fighters when the Kishugu contract ended and was concerned whether other employment opportunities could be created.

Ms Ngcaba stated that legal procedures must be followed. At best, attempts would be made to match all workers to jobs because another bidding entity would be asked to come forward, and what happened to the jobs could only then be determined in the bidding process.

The Chairperson interjected and enquired where the mandate was derived to create the Kishugu entity.

Ms Ngcaba stated that the mandate is derived from the Forest Fires Act, with some elements also picked up from the Biodiversity Act.

The Chairperson recommended that the Forest Fires Act be reconsidered as it does not provide a comprehensive mandate.

Ms Ngcaba revealed that the Minister of Environmental Affairs had already looked into the possibility of amendment, and a policy decision would be needed.

Mr S Makhubele (ANC) said that there was a discrepancy in the presentation. On the one hand, Kishugu referred to its international deployment experience, but also said that it did not have a finalised structure for international deployment. Six months after the Canadian experience he would have expected there to have been definite steps taken. Perhaps this was not as urgent as Kishugu claimed. He also said that nothing was said about procurement.

Mr M Shelembe (NFP) felt that the programme and teams seemed to be biased towards the Western Cape although more fires happened in Limpopo.

Dr Preston reminded Members that the fire season in Western Cape carried huge risks, hence the need for a greater presence of teams.

Mr Shelembe noted that Kishugu did not mention what conditions were in place for procurement. Thirdly, no transformation targets were specified nor was there an indication of how Kishugu would work towards them.

Dr Preston noted that targets were actually set by the DEA and therefore had to be reported on by the DEA and not by Kishugu. He added that in terms of the gender split, the EPWP target overall for employment of women was 55%. Currently, 94% of EPWP workers are youth, which far exceeded the targets for employment of youth.

Mr Shelembe noted that Kishugu annually hosts a launch in preparation for the fire season, to create awareness. He agreed that awareness was important but was worried about the significant costs attached to that.

Dr Preston noted that Kishugu generally does not overspend. The budget for the awareness campaigns was at 0.2% of total budget and these campaigns had a significant positive impact. However, he took the point and said that it would be proactive and think of more ways to be cost-effective. 

Mr Abrahams agreed that these launches played a vital role in attracting investors, resources and mobilising the platforms.

Mr Shelembe said that Kishugu had not said what mechanisms it uses to resolve labour disputes. If workers were to strike and there were rampant fires during the strike, it would result in deaths.

Ms Ngcaba pointed out that any industrial action was dealt with under the current labour law. Mr Abrahams added that any labour disputes were handled by the Human Resources team, who would apply and comply with South African labour law.

The Chairperson noted that WoF is implemented and based on EPWP principles but he asked whether these same principles apply to Kishugu, which is a private company contracted by government, and not a government entity as such. Given that the name and scope of the company had changed after the bid was awarded, he also wondered whether the EPWP principles would have to apply to all other activities in which Kishugu was now involved. He also asked whether the board was renumerated along the EPWP basis.

Dr Preston confirmed that the EPWP principles applied only to the fire-fighter workers, and so their pay was based on that.

The Chairperson said that if this was so, the workers would be receiving far less by comparison with management, who was presumably receiving market-related salaries. He then noted that the presentation had mentioned that WoF expenditure would be R1.092 billion over two financial years, but he would like to see that amount broken down with a specific allocation to each financial year.
He was then concerned that there was no mention of who appointed the board members. Kishugu was a private company and may be following private company rules and procedures, yet there were two DEA members on that board.

Mr Abrahams confirmed that Kishugu invites prospective members of the board for interview.

Mr T Hadebe (DA) requested clarification on the requirements for a venue to qualify as a fire station, in terms of equipment and standards.

Dr Preston replied that the quality requirements were still being worked on.

Mr Hadebe reiterated that the mandate was not clear in the empowering Act, and he would like to see these issues covered off properly in a report to the Committee.

Ms Ngcaba suggested that it would be useful to have a briefing on all key legislation applicable to WoF, in order to determine its mandate.

Mr Shelembe commented that the presentation slides were not numbered. There was nothing to confirm where Kishugu was drawing its statistics from. Although it had listed the fires attended to, nothing had been said about those that it could not deal with. This level of detail would be required for future presentations.

The Chairperson reminded Kishugu that it must compile a report on the Canadian trip. He also asked that in future, presentations must be received further in advance of the meeting.

Oceans Economy Lab briefing by Department of Environmental Affairs
Dr Monde Mayekiso, Deputy Director General: Marine & Coastal Management, DEA, explained what was meant by the “Ocean Economy”. South Africa is surrounded by a vast ocean, and had not taken full advantage of the immense potential of this untapped resource. The oceans have the potential to contribute at least R177 billion to the gross domestic product (GDP) and create just over one million jobs by 2033, which led to the descriptor “ocean economy”. The Ocean Economy Programme was launched in 2015 to stimulate the potential of the oceans to contribute to the GDP and job creation.  The Ocean Economy is managed by Department of Planning Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) and the DEA together.

The main priorities of the Ocean Economy were listed as:
1. Marine Transport and Manufacturing,
2. Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration,
3. Aquaculture
4. Marine Protection Services and Ocean Governance 
5. Small Harbour development
6. Coastal and Marine Tourism

Dealing with these in turn, Dr Mayekiso noted that under Marine Transport and Manufacturing (MTM), a list of recommendations was provided to ensure market growth and skills and capacity building. These recommendations included training 18 172 learners as artisans and in the professions over the next five years, proposing that a preferential procurement clause be included in the African Maritime Charter, and developing strategic marketing plans. Achievements included making investments of up to R7billion, creating a floating dock for ship repair at the Port of Richards Bay, the ongoing building of seven tug boats  in the port of Durban and recently two new vessels, the Aogatowa and the Aukwatowa, were built in the Port of Cape Town.

Six initiatives were identified for Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration, which included:
a) Developing a phased gas pipeline network
b) Conducting joint industry/government emergency response drills
c) Localisation of the supply chain
d) Developing and implementing a skills strategy roadmap
e) Enhancing governance capacity in oil and gas regulation
f) Providing legislative clarity and stability.

The Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) had issued 15 licenses for exploration of offshore oil and gas. Construction of the Burgan Fuel Storage Facility in the Port of Cape Town had generated 220 construction jobs and a joint industry-government emergency response team has been established.

Moving on to aquaculture initiatives, three phases were identified. Phase 1 considers the implementation of initiatives in 6 to 12 months. Phase 2 considers the implementation of initiatives in 12 to 24 months. Phase 3 considers the implementation of initiatives in 2 to 4 years. Under Phase 1 the DEA aims to establish an Inter-Departmental Authorisations Committee as well as an Aquaculture Development Fund.  In Phase 2 the DEA will table legislative reform to promote aquaculture development and establish a globally recognised monitoring and certification system. Under Phase 3, the DEA intends to have 12 ready-to-operate projects. Dr Mayekiso said that this division had exceeded expectations as 32 projects were initiated. Ten of these projects are in the production phase, and this should, amongst others, achieve an increase in production from 175 tonnes of fish to 2 901 tonnes. 

Under Marine Protection Services and Ocean Governance, ten key initiatives were proposed. These include:
1. Ministerial Committee and Secretariat to manage activities
2. Review of ocean-related legislation
3. Enhancement of legislation for the Integrated Coastal and Oceans Management Act   
4. Accelerated capacity building intervention in ocean governance
5. Enhanced and co-ordinated enforcement of ocean protection programmes
6. National ocean and coastal information systems and extending earth observation capacity
7. National ocean and coastal water quality monitoring programme
8. Creation of a Marine Protected area (MPA) representative network
9. MPA discovery, research and monitoring programme
10. Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) process to be followed.

One major achievement by this division had been the apprehension of an unauthorised Chinese vessel in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). That Chinese vessel did not have a permit to be in the South African EEZ and was carrying goods which were not allowed there, and fishing without permits.

The Coastal and Marine Tourism division included the development and promotion of Blue Flag beaches, the boat based whale watching, and shark cage diving .

Under the Small Harbours Development programme, twelve harbours have been renewed and a Small Harbour Lab will commence in late 2016. Thirteen projects have been identified in this category already.

Mr Hadebe asked whether investigations or research had been conducted to determine the level of ocean pollution.

Mr Hadebe asked if there were any initiatives that included the public. He wanted to know what roles were played in Marine and Coastal Management by the different spheres of government. He asked who would have the responsibility to deal with matters such as the Chinese vessel. He asked how offshore oil and gas exploration was going to be monitored. He also needed to know the exact timeline for putting applicable legislation into place to deal with environmental concerns.

The Chairperson enquired whether there was any progress with the Oceans Management Act.   

Ms Ngcaba stated that a security plan to deal with matters such as the Chinese vessel was in the pipeline and the DEA will co-ordinate enforcement activities with the South African Police Services, Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Department of Transport and the Department of Home Affairs.

In terms of legislative plans, Ms Ngcaba confirmed that the Draft Marine Spatial Planning Bill had been discussed, and this was currently being sent to Cabinet and would be discussed in December or early next year.

Offshore oil and gas explorers and developments would have to adhere to all legislation. She gave the example of developers needing to first acquire authorisation in terms of the Integrated Coastal Management Act before commencing with exploration.

She confirmed that spheres did have roles in relation to marine and coastal development but that there was interdependency across those spheres. For example, if the V&A Waterfront was to be changed, Parliament would have to approve of that plan, but the Minister would have to ensure that sales along any coastal zones complied with all legal requirements. Schedules 4 and 5 of the Constitution described which sphere of government was in charge of specific activities – for instance, local government was responsible to ensuring that beaches were kept clean.

Dr Mayekiso said that it was a difficult task to determine the quality of water and level of ocean pollution but there was a project planned that would conduct a baseline study.

Ms H Kekana (ANC) asked what plans the DEA had to deal with marine pollution. She wanted to hear more about the employment equity in the Department and its programmes, and whether there were specific programmes or bursaries encouraging women to study in this field.

Ms Ngcaba responded that there were essentially two types of marine pollution; oil spills from ships, and pollution emanating from land-based sources. The Department of Transport was responsible for clean ups of oil spills; previously the DEA would deal with these but that changed when its role change meant that DEA became the environmental regulator. Initiatives were created for women by way of having specific bursaries in each focus area.

Mr Mabilo commented that although there had been a great improvement in the aquaculture division, it had been described as “still progressing” due to “certain constraints”. He asked what the constraints were, whether they had been remedied, and if so, how.

 last year the division was declared ‘still progressing’ due to certain constraints. The presentation however, has not indicated what those constraints were, if they were remedied and how they were remedied. 

Mr Mabilo was concerned that 30 000 vessels were passing through on South African waters each year but only 13 000 were docking at any of the ports.

Ms Ngcaba explained that although many vessels entered  South African water, they could not be repaired yet at the docks because South Africa still needed to increase its skills and capacity in dockyards.

The Chairperson asked how well the DEA is progressing with global governance mechanisms.

Ms Ngcaba asserted that the DEA is doing relatively well in co-ordinating efforts in international engagements.

Biodiversity Lab : Department of Environmental Affairs briefing
Ms Wadzi Mandivenyi, Chief Directorate: Biodiversity Specialist Monitoring Services, DEA, gave an introduction to the Biodiversity and Coastal and Marine Tourism Labs. After the success of the Oceans Lab, the Departments of Tourism and DEA had taken the initiative to set up an implementation Biodiversity Lab, to determine how South Africa’s rich biodiversity can be used for transformation purposes, as well as to grow the economic contribution of South Africa’s natural resources.

Three areas were identified and prioritised for further development. These three areas were Marine and Coastal Tourism, Bio-Prospecting, and Wildlife. The Lab had developed 29 initiatives, which involved more than 3 000 implementation activities.

Within the wildlife stream, four key areas had been considered; namely: wildlife ranching, wildlife activities, wildlife products, and challenges blocking growth and transformation. The wildlife ranching sub-sector focused primarily on breeding and live sales, with secondary contributors including trans-location services, veterinary services and fencing and maintenance. The live sales market is estimated to have generated R5 million in sales in 2013.

The wildlife activities sub-sector is focused primarily on trophy hunting, hunting in order to produce biltong, and wildlife viewing. Secondary contributions include accommodation, transport, equipment and supplies (arms, ammunition,) and taxidermy. Hunting is the largest revenue contributor to the wildlife sector, contributing more than R8.5 billion in 2015.

The wildlife products sub-sector is primarily focused on game-meat processing, skin and hides production, and other products such as curios, jewellery and decorations. Secondary contributors include packaging and transportation. South Africa produced more than 6 000 tonnes of game meat in 2013, generating R230 million.

The Lab examined the challenges hindering the growth and transformation in the wildlife sector and identified three areas. These were
- barriers to transformation
- the risk of future growth stagnating
- a non-supportive enabling environment. 

In order to remedy these, the Lab had developed fifteen priority initiatives. It would therefore:
- Identify and prioritise 10 million ha for transformation
- Establish, develop and support new wildlife ranching entrants, including business set-up support, funding models and game ownership programmes
- Increase capacity and support for at least 300 community entities
- Create supply-chain linkages and capacitate 4000 small, medium and micro-enterprises (SMMEs)  for local value-capture of ancillary goods and services to the wildlife economy
-Operationalise 11 biodiversity economy nodes that could unlock the economic potential of protected and communal areas
- Empower 4000 emerging entrepreneurs and farmers through focused capacity building programmes
- Formalise the SA game market and create a network of game-meat processing facilities
- Implement a campaign that drives participative transformation and consumer growth for wildlife-related activities and products
- Create an enabling legislative environment through the amendment of the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act (NEMBA)
- Develop and implement wildlife industry standards
- Implement a national wildlife-economy branding scheme, based on criteria of sustainability, allowing for consumer choice and incentivising sustainable management
- Develop and implement an electronic system for issuing wildlife permits
- Establish a centralised database
- Reposition the Wildlife Forum as an efficient inter-departmental/industry collaboration and co-ordination platform, to promote the benefits of wildlife economy
- Provide the knowledge base to support and grow the wildlife economy
- Leverage protected areas to unlock economic potential

Mr Paul Daphne, Managing Director, SANParks, spoke to how SANParks aimed to assist this programme, noting that it would essentially enter into partnership agreements with wildlife ranchers so that a mentorship programme could be set up.

Ms Natalie Veldman, Representative, DEA, spoke about the Lab’s endeavours in the field of bio-prospecting, which is the process of discovery and commercialisation of new products based on biological resources. This sector consists of three main elements of resources, processing and trade, and final domestic products. The resource segment is largely focused on plant resources. The processing and trade segment primarily trades in indigenous plant species. The final domestic products segment develops and sells the final products. The Lab had identified several challenges hindering growth in the bio-prospecting economy. These challenges related to the supply of raw material, a limited demand and the complex regulatory system. There was also a lack of involvement of communities and traditional knowledge holders in the various points along the sector chain value chain, which was hindering transformation.

In order to meet these challenges, the Lab had developed five initiatives to drive growth and provide opportunity in the bio-prospecting economy.  These included cultivation, wild harvesting, network partnerships, regulations and legislative amendments and permitting efficiency. The Lab had identified 25 plant species for cultivation. These plants were chosen as they grow across South Africa and are high value resources. Crop cultivation will provide employment of up to 1 000 jobs per annum.

In relation to wildlife harvesting, the Lab identified seven species for continuous sustainable wild harvesting, to provide livelihoods to harvesting communities. These species are found in seven of the nine provinces. 

The DEA noted that many departments are involved in the strategy and legislation of bio-prospecting. However, the Lab had identified several gaps across the sector, and a network partnership was thus being proposed to address these gaps, by bringing together all the relevant stake holders and co-ordinating the sector. The Bio Products Advancement Network South Africa (BioPANZA) will harness existing initiatives and address the innovation chasm. BioPANZA will influence existing resources to prevent additional bureaucracy and limit duplication of services and spending.

DEA also identified significant legislative overlaps in respect of indigenous knowledge and resources. The Lab thus was proposing amendments to the Indigenous Knowledge Bill, National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act, and the Bioprospecting Access and Benefit Sharing regulations.

The Lab was recommending, in order to increase efficiency, that the days taken to process an application permit should be reduced from 120 to 60 working days.

Department of Tourism input
Ms Lerato Matlakala, Chief Director: Tourism Development Programme, Department of Tourism, noted that although the coastal provinces hosted approximately 25% of international tourists who visit South Africa, the numbers of visits to the coastal provinces had shown a slight decline. The Lab, nonetheless, estimated that the Coastal and Marine Tourism sector could reach a R43.3 billion contribution to the GDP by the year 2030. The Lab aimed to get South Africa ranked within the top 20 tourist destinations by 2030. It hoped that leveraging this sector would increase jobs from 64 000 to 116 000 by 2030.

The Lab examined challenges hindering growth and transformation in this sector and identified several issues that needed to be addressed. These included marketing, safety, access and skills. Restrictive visa requirements; the excessive, lengthy and costly permit process for new entrants into coastal and marine tourism activities; lack of customer service and low levels of entrepreneurship were further factors.

The Chairperson expressed his dissatisfaction that the slides given to the Committee Members were not the same as those shown in the presentation. They had found it difficult to follow the presentation and formulate any questions.

Rhino Lab: Department of Environmental Affairs and SAPS briefing
The representative from the DEA noted that during the initial engagements in preparation for the Biodiversity Lab, several stakeholders had highlighted rhino conservation issues as one of the key areas for discussion. As a result the Directors-General of Environmental Affairs and Home Affairs, together with the Acting National Commissioner of Police had created and launched the Rhino Conservation Lab on 14 August 2016.

This Lab developed implementation plans for 44 initiatives to address problematic areas of enforcement against rhino poaching. These included anti-trafficking and anti-poaching, community empowerment, demand management, responsive legislation and management of the rhino population
Ms Sonja De Klerk, Section Head: Scientific Analysis: SA Police Service Forensic Scientific Laboratory, outlined and described the enforcement mechanism. The enforcement work stream aimed to ensure that there would be significant improvements in determining the intelligence capabilities of illicit networks. Essentially this stream focused on detection and prosecution. The draft National Integrated Strategy on Combating Wildlife Trafficking (NISCWT) developed by SAPS had provided important groundwork for the implementation plans aimed at law enforcement. The Rhino Lab enabled further investigation of these plans aimed at law enforcement, considered the financial implications and provided timeframes.

Ms Thea Carroll, Director and Chair of Steering Committee, DEA, elaborated on the community empowerment component, which acknowledged that communities are the first line of defence for the protection of rhinos. Various communities had indicated that they know who the poachers were and wished to be part of the solution to rhino poaching, and this had led to the formation of various community groups. For instance, the Black Mambas was a group of women dedicated to saving rhino populations, and the aim was to generate more groups and initiatives, which would serve a dual purpose of addressing the poaching and ensuring that the voices of communities would be heard at the highest levels and across public, private, civil and traditional leadership sectors.

Dr Mike Knight, Head, Rhino Alive, said that demand management is an imperative part of rhino conservation. The Lab has agreed on several initiatives to improve the understanding of the underlying reasons behind purchase of illegal rhino horn. This understanding would then allow for formulation of a correct and sustainable approach to demand management measures. He added that biological management was another imperative in conservation attempts, and in 2015, around 25% of rhinos at the Kruger National Park had been moved to safer places.

The Chairperson asked what the DEA would plan to do, should the Constitutional Court rule in favour of the Private Rhino Owners Association challenge to the DEA. He reminded Members that the Association was challenging the DEA's intention to uphold a seven-year ban on the domestic trade in rhino horn. He recommended that DEA should meet with the other side to try to reach an agreement

Mr Ishaam Abader, Deputy Director General: Legal Authorisations and Compliance Inspectorate, DEA, reported that discussions had already been held but the Association had not been willing to reach any compromises or attempt to settle.

Mr Shelembe enquired whether the creation of synthetic rhino horns would not encourage a new market, essentially promoting the poaching of rhinos.

The Chairperson said some people maintained that poaching of rhinos was not happening, but the market for consumption of rhino horn did exist for cultural reasons. It was very difficult to get people to discard decades of cultural beliefs. He thought that the recommendations were cosmetic rather than real and radical He would like to see specific legislation being enacted to deal with rhino poaching rather than attempting to deal with it across sections of various other pieces of legislation.

Mr Abader responded that the National Prosecuting Authority had been considering a range of legislation in order to charge poachers with more than one offence; rhino poaching was not solely an environmental concern, so often offenders would be charged in addition with trespassing, illegal carrying of firearms, or under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, with illegal gains being subject to confiscation.

Ms Frances Craigie, Chief Director: Enforcement, DEA, agreed that the Rhino Lab was considering specific legislation to deal with rhino poaching.

Ms Ngcaba stated that the Committee will be provided with options if the ban on domestic trade of rhino horns is declared null and void by the Constitutional Court.

The Chairperson noted that this had been a difficult and crowded day of presentations, and it was a pity that the Committee had not had more time to do proper justice to the issues and engage more.

The meeting was adjourned. 




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