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WATER AFFAIRS AND FORESTRY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
20 August 2003
FORESTRY REGULATIONS: BRIEFING; SADC PROTOCOL ON FORESTRY: ARBOR WEEK: DISCUSSION
Chairperson: Mr. J.H Van Wyk (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Arbor Week Programme
SADC Protocol on Forestry
Briefing Notes on Protocol of Forestry (Appendix 1)
Comments received from the public on Draft Regulations on the National Veld and Forest Fire Act
Department Regulations: Chapter 2, National Veld and Forest Fire Act
Progress in the Implementation of the National Veld & Forest Fire Act (Appendix 2)
The Committee and the Department discussed Arbour Week, SADC Protocol on Forestry and Fire Protection Associations Regulations.
Linda Mossop, a Chief Director with Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF), introduced her fellow delegates, Tony Brutus, Thando Sokhela and Matsami Nkosi to the meeting.
Thando Sokhela, the national coordinator for Arbor Week presented his paper "Arbor Week-Iviki Lezihlahla 2003" to the meeting. Iviki Lezihlahla, which he said meant "Week of Trees in Zulu".
Mr E Sigwela (ANC) told of a running wild fire that has destroyed half a forest. There was a great loss of trees and nine companies were currently harvesting in this forest. He asked for awareness by forestry officials re this tragedy.
Mr Arendse said that many events were planned in different provinces and that he would appreciate it if members would participate in these events where they lived. He further wanted to know if funds were made available for members to attend and how these funds could be accessed. If no funds were made available, he would like to know why this was the case.
Ms R Ndzanga (ANC) asked if constituency offices were informed of these occasions so people were able to access information. She was of the opinion that constituency offices should be involved.
Mr Sigwela said that the emphasis on Arbor Week should also include the negatives about forests. He was concerned about the impact of the destructive nature of fires because it was not only valuable wood that was lost, but job losses, revenue and poverty could be reduced. He asked for community officials to be spread and an effort to be made to reinforce the consciousness of people to avoid fires.
Inkosi B Biyela (IFP) asked about bushes in the rural areas of the country. He said that people were cutting wood for selling because of unemployment. He reminded that the past regime did not allow the indiscriminate cutting of trees but today it had become uncontrollable. He wanted to know if the department took note of this problem.
Mr M Phala expressed his concern about the protection of indigenous trees and asked how this information is taken to the rural areas.
Mr P Ditshetelo (UCDP) commented on the aims and objectives of Arbor Week. He said that although it was a noble effort, the program was not clearly made. He called for the Committee to be directly involved with the dissemination of information re Arbor Week and suggested that the Committee supervise the progress.
Chief C Hlaneki was concerned about the involvement of the traditional leadership in the consultation process.
Mr D Maimane apologised for arriving late for the briefing. He thought that the presentation was excellent and questioned the need to engage the document. He saw no need to discuss logistical matters because Linda Mossop assured the meeting that matters regarding the program would linkup.
Mr van Wyk allowed Mr Arendse a point of order to allow him to remind the meeting that the public was entitled to information.
Mr M Masala, mentioned that KSD, Eastern Cape was very wide and that he did not know where Sinqu was. He needed this to be clarified.
Ms Mossop said that it was gratifying for the Department to be more involved with Arbor Week. She further stated the following re the above questions:
-Only major events appear in the program
-Funding to attend events was not budget for. It should be considered for inclusion in the budget. It was also a useful manner for PC members to learn about the communities.
-Although Arbor Week was seen as a celebration, they would nevertheless inform communities about the negatives.
Thando Nkosi looked at how links with constituency offices could be improved.: He added the following issues:
-The thrust of the Minister`s speech would be "what trees can do for us".
-The management of indigenous forests was discussed at a previous meeting.
-The problem of illegal cutting remained problematic. Steps were taken to protect forests. Much was already done on the operational side.
-With.respect.to. firewood, the Act is specific about licencing. Former DWAF Minister Kader Asmal exempted woodcutting for domestic needs. At local level there was control in wood for domestic consumption.
-All the events are focussed on the objectives of arbor Week. The Committee was welcome to attend a debrief which would take place after Arbor Week.
-The Traditional Authority, constituency offices and local communities have been consulted because the Department wanted Arbor Week to be inclusive.
-There is an information campaign e.g. brochures about trees, a calender about and focus of each event, t-shirts that were not ready yet.
-DWAF endeavoured to showcase S.A. at international events e.g. the World Summit to show that "we could look after trees".
Mr van Wyk thanked Linda Mossop and Thando Sokhela for their responses. He asked Tony Brutus to look at how members could slot in to ensure participation. He acknowledged the sentiments about budget constraints and agreed that there should be more funding and greater involvement by Parliament.
SADC PROTOCOL ON FORESTRY
Linda Mossop introduced the presentation, which was presented by Matsami Nkosi. Ms Mossop was convinced that S.A. should continue to take the lead, especially in the context of SADC and the African continent. Hence, it was important to adopt this SADC protocol. She believed that South.Africa.`s image would be enhanced as it contributed on international forums. South Africa's voice was clear and international audiences sought South Africa's opinions.
Ms Mossop shared a dilemma faced by African countries at a recent meeting in Geneva, which lasted for two weeks. Most African countries were not represented. Some countries were sent an air ticket but living costs were not covered. Consequently, countries like Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Swaziland could only stay for two out of fourteen days contrary to the U.S.A. who sent ten to fourteen people for two weeks.
Matsami Nkosi presented the SADC Protocol on Forestry to the meeting.
Mr van Wyk was confident that the Committee would ratify the protocol. However, it would require a resolution by both Houses.
Mr Arendse (ANC) mistook the protocol for one previously discussed. Mr van Wyk reminded him that it was not the same protocol. Mr Arendse accepted.
Mr Arendse asked how the ratification of this protocol would help other SADC countries such as staying in Geneva for two weeks, and clarity on Article 17(3).
Mr Sigwela expressed unhappiness about the way the Protocol was presented. He wanted to know why DWAF and DAF had developed it behind the scenes because it had an impact on parliamentary activities. He believed in the principles of the Protocol but doubts about the substance.
Mr Ditshetelo was concerned about the protocol itself. He said various protocols were signed and verified but were not enforceable and becomes ineffective. He cited the example of the U.S.A. who refused to pay its dues under this protocol.
Mr Miamani asked if the Committee had the ability to improve on the protocol
Mr Ditshetelo regarded the contributions of the Committee as valuable to the brainstorming exercise for interrogating the protocol.
Mr Phala suggested that SADC cannot bypass this protocol like the U.S.A. did.
Mr Masala asked if our President signed the protocol. He was also concerned about the fact that certain SADC countries did not sign the protocol.
Mr van Wyk said that all members have the right to their opinions. The Committee had to clarify comments and the Department must decide. He then requested a response from the Department
Ms Mossop gave the following answers:
-She had the draft SADC Protocol with her in Geneva.
-It did not help South .Africa. to take a narrow approach because the bigger stage was inclusive and a common position was sought.
-With .respect.to. how the protocol developed, SADC was still putting their infrastructure in place. She said that South Africa. could assist other countries and consultation was taking place with the full sector.
-Enforcing the protocol was difficult because the sovereignty of an independent country must be respected. It was hoped that good faith would prevail.
Mr Sokhela explained that the proposal was ratified and signed by heads of states in Luanda, subject to amendment, in particular, article 17 (3).
Mr van Wyk informed the meeting that the President had signed the protocol on 2 October. He then responded positively to Mr Miamani`s proposal that the protocol be adopted for future development. Mr Arendse seconded his proposal and the unanimous show of hands proved acceptance.
Ms Mossop assumed that the content of the Fire Protection Associations (FPA) Regulations document was circulated and known to the members. She explained that the reason for briefing members about the document under discussion, was to relate to the PC what was being done in terms of present regulations. She continued to brief the Committee on the FPA regulations.
Mr Miamani asked about transformation and representivity as the regulations relate to transformation. He wanted the rationale behind the regulations explained, especially as it affectsedpeople who want to register new FPAs and the kind of financial assistance that was accessible.
Mr van Wyk asked if the definitions in the Act should not be amended. He also questioned the consultation process, in particular how it took place.
Mr A Nel (DA) asked for a list of the stakeholders that were consulted.
Ms Mossop responded as follows:
-Primary legislation allows for the local designated chief to be appointed as the FPA if the person suits the profile.
-With .respect.to. the consultation process, she explained that regulations were put before the stakeholders. If regulations were accepted to be credible, it was forwarded for public comment. If the response was overwhelming, regulations were simplified more and then referred to other reference groups.
-She admitted a measure of lethargy in the Department.
-All regulations in the 1994 Act are still in place.
-Cohesion amongst communities was crucial for dealing with fires.
-They do not have sufficient funds to assist with the establishment of new FPAs. However they could make funds available and the Act provides for assistance.
-She will supply a list of stakeholders consulted. She also noted that the consultation was vast.
Mr van Wyk decided that the Committee needed to interrogate the regulations more within the 60-day window period provided. They could call on the Department of Land affairs for guidance. For him, the two important issues were. the financial constraints and the Fire Protection Associations.
The Chair informed the Committee of the following announcements:
The Department was not ready for the briefing on 27 August 2003. Instead, the Trans Caledon Authority (TCA) would brief the Committee.
-The Committee received an invitation from the TCA to attend a function at the Table Bay Hotel, Cape Town on 26 August 2003. The committee secretary would be given the list of the Committee members who would attend.
-SALGA also invited the Committee to their Closing session Budget Gala Dinner.
Mr J Arendse (ANC) suggested that the rest of the program could be discussed next week. He also requested that the Chairperson consider arranging for the Stellenbosch and Spier visit to take place on the same day.
Mr van Wyk thanked Mr Arendse for the suggestion. He would consider a date for a joint visit.
Mr van Wyk opened the discussion by referring to a news item he heard on radio on 20 August about the fires in Mpumalanga. The radio report reminded him of the impact of the drought, especially as it affected the quality of water in the Orange River. Nevertheless, he welcomes the current rainfall.
Mr van Wyk shared his memories in the civic movements years ago when they visited homes. He thought that the housing program of the Government has had good effect. However, more needed to be done. A study tour was due for the following week.
BRIEFING NOTES TO THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON WATER AFFAIRS AND FORESTRY ON THE RATIFICATION OF THE PROTOCOL ON FORESTRY- 20 AUGUST 2003.
The Protocol was concluded in terms of Article 22(1) of the Declaration Treaty and Protocol of Southern African Development Community signed by the Heads of State or Government in 1992 and acceded to by the Republic of South Africa in 1994 ("the Treaty").
Section 231(2) of the Constitution provides that an international agreement binds the Republic only after it has been approved by resolution in both the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces, unless it is an agreement that does not require ratification. The Protocol is an agreement that does require ratification in terms of Article 22(3) of the Treaty and its own Article 26. It must therefore be ratified in accordance with the Constitution.
The fundamental objectives of the Treaty are to achieve development and economic growth, alleviate poverty with the ultimate aim of its eradication, achieving sustainable utilisation of natural resources and the effective protection of the environment.
To attain these objectives the Member States agreed to –
- promote the implementation of national, interstate and regional policies, programmes and projects within the framework for economic integration;
- secure, by concerted action, international understanding, support and co-operation;
- involve the peoples of the Region centrally in the process of development and integration, particularly through the guarantee of democratic rights, observance of human rights and the rule of law; and
- Recognise that understanding; good neighbourliness and meaningful co-operation among the countries of the Region are indispensable to the realisation of the ideals of the Treaty.
With regard to co-operation referred to in (b) above, the Member States agreed to co-operate in a number of areas, three of which are relevant to the Protocol:
- food security, land and agriculture;
- natural resources and environment; and
- Social welfare, information and culture.
Article 22(1) of the Treaty requires Member States to conclude such Protocols as may be necessary in each area of co-operation, "which must spell out the objectives and scope of, and institutional mechanisms for, co-operation and integration". The Protocol is such an instrument in that forestry is an activity, which falls to varying degrees within the areas, referred to in (i), (ii) and (iii) above.
In the Preamble to the Protocol the State Parties –
- recognise –
- the intrinsic value of forests in the functioning of the earth’s ecological systems and the maintenance of all forms of life;
- that natural forests and the unique forms of life within them must be safeguarded;
- the value of forests to humanity, including their role in maintaining the earth’s climate, controlling floods and erosion, as a source of clean water, food, wood and other products and as having spiritual, cultural and aesthetic value to humans;
- that many people in the Region depend on forests for their livelihood and that sustainable forest management is essential to the alleviation of poverty;
- the critical role that women play in forest management and in the development of forest-based industries;
- the transboundary nature of some forests and the importance of transboundary management strategies;
- the vital role of forests in the protection of water catchments, including shared watercourses and the responsibility of State Parties to protect and manage those forests; and
- That they have a responsibility to their peoples and future generations to conserve forests and to use forest resources sustainably and wisely.
- understand and acknowledge that –
- the vital role played by communities in the conservation and sustainable management of forests by virtue of their traditional knowledge and practices;
- the role played by the private sector in promoting sustainable forest management and in developing forest-based industries;
- forestry, conservation, agriculture, energy, trade, industry, tourism and environmental issues are inextricably linked;
- the sources of potential harm to forests are not limited by national boundaries;
- forests are a rich source of genetic resource and the beneficiaries of those resources have not been required to share the benefits of such resources; and
- are convinced that –
- they will benefit from regional standards for, and approaches to, forest management and the development of trade in products from sustainably managed forests;
- They will benefit by assisting each other in addressing matters of common concern, in building capacity and in sharing information and expertise.
All the State Parties have signed the Protocol and it is important that the Republic demonstrates, by ratifying the Protocol, its commitment to the objectives of the SADC and the development of the Southern African region.
On 14 January 2003 the Cabinet Committee on International Relations, Peace and Security recommended that Cabinet approve the introduction of the Protocol on Forestry to Parliament for ratification.
On 22 January 2003 the Cabinet did approve the introduction.
DEPARTMENT OF WATER AFFAIRS AND FORESTRY PROGRESS IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE NATIONAL
VELD AND FOREST FIRE ACT
21 August 2003
Chapters 1 (Introductory Provisions), Chapter 2 (Fire Protection Associations), Chapter 4 (Veldfire Prevention through Firebreaks), Chapter 5 (Fire Fighting), Chapter 6 (Administration of the Act, Chapter 7 (Offences and Penalties, Chapter 8 (Enforcement), Chapter 9 (General Transitional Provisions) of the Act are already in effect. It is clear that these provisions are having a good influence, e.g. through the widespread preparation of firebreaks by landowners. Only Chapter 3 (Fire Danger Rating) is not yet in effect.
The Department has drafted a policy on exemptions from the preparation of firebreaks, which has been twice circulated among stakeholders for comment and has now been finalised and would be sent for formal adoption by the Minister. In effect, exemptions will only be considered where these are part of the veldfire management strategy of a Fire Protection association.
In chapter5, the Act stipulates that owners must have trained personnel and equipment for fire fighting. The Department has been working with stakeholders and two SETAs, i.e. PAETA and FIETA to facilitate the adoption of Appropriate training standards. Stakeholders have accepted standards for fire fighting for level 1 and 2 in principle. PAETA and FIETA are ready to sign a Memorandum of Understanding regarding the delivery of training. This will take place after the registration of the course materials by SAQA. FIETA is now busy accrediting some service providers for fire fighting training.
2. CHAPTER 2: FIRE PROTECTION ASSOCIATIONS (FPAs)
This chapter was published in May 2003 in government Gazette number 24870.
There is a huge interest in forming Fire Protection Associations. The Department of water affairs and Forestry is handling an ever-increasing number of inquiries from interested parties, among them municipalities, voluntary groups and other institutions.
As an indication of this interest, we can report that nationally, there are 87 applications that the Department has received so far and 38 more groups have indicated that they will send their applications soon to the Department and many others are joining daily.
Working with stakeholders, the Department has developed the following to support the formation and registration of FPAs:
- Forms for completion by candidate FPAs, providing for all the requirements in Chapter 2 including the registration of Fire Protection Officers;
- A guide for the preparation of a business plan by an FPA, which assists the FPA to plan for the exercising of the duties set out in section 5 of the Act, especially the veldfire management strategy, the latter is based on risk management standards;
- A web-enabled FPA Registration Management System for the management of registration of FPAs; and
- Criteria and guidelines to be applied by officials in managing the process of registration, together with a detailed specification of the business process.
The forms and business plan guidelines have been distributed among stakeholders for comment and are now being finalised for use.
The Department has commissioned the CSIR to develop a web-enabled Veldfire Information System to facilitate monitoring and evaluation of the management of veldfire risk, by both FPAs and Government and others. This is being done in consultation with stakeholders and has been designed to be compatible to the National Disaster Management System.
The policy for financial assistance to FPAs is in draft.
To guide the allocation of resources in the formation and registration of FPAs, the department is developing a prioritisation of local municipalities based upon a preliminary assessment of veldfire in each municipality.
3. CHAPTER 3: FIRE DANGER RATING SYSTEM
This Chapter 3 has not yet been put into effect, since it requires the adoption of an appropriate system for fire danger rating.
Chapter 3 of the Act provides for the establishment of a fire danger rating system for the entire country. This system will be referred to as the National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS).
The NFDRS is to incorporate the following elements, as stipulated in section 9 of the Act:
- The model, or formulae, to calculate the indicator values upon which the danger rating will be based;
- The danger ratings, in clear format;
- Regions within which the rating may be regarded to be sufficiently uniform under any conditions;
- A definition of dangerous activities and of precautions for each rating, and the rating for high fire dander;
- An information system; and
- The system for communicating the rating (as stipulated in section 10)
The Department has commissioned the CSIR to test four candidate models for the NFDRS. The CSIR has just completed its findings on the performance of the model/s to be used for the NFDRS and a report has since been presented to DWAF. A final report will be produced very soon, in the light of inputs made during the presentation of the report to DWAF.
Draft rating tables and the maps of the preliminary rating regions has been circulated among stakeholders for comment and are now being revised.
The Department and the SA Weather Services have worked together closely in developing the elements of the NFDRS.
4. OTHER DEVELOPMENTS IN TERMS OF NVFFA
Two other important developments in the implementation of the Act are:
(i) Proposed Private, Public Partnership on the National Fire awareness Campaign. The Department has approved that we initiate a PPP for fire awareness outside the Department, probably to be managed by a Section 21 Company. Those who are interested are welcome to join this venture.
(ii) Proposed task team to enforce the provisions of the Act. This group will be concentrating on strategies to ensure that landowners comply with the requirements of the Act and persecute those who do not comply.
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