Minister Barbara Creecy: Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Dept Budget Vote 2022/23 NCOP

Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Minister Barbara Creecy delivers budget speech to National Council of Provinces

Honourable House Chair

Deputy Minister Ms Makhotso Sotyu;

Honourable Tebogo Modise and Committee members

Chairpersons of the Entities reporting to the DFFE;

Director-General, Ms Nomfundo Tshabalala and team Environment

CEOs of our Public Entities;

Honourable Members

It has been several weeks since KwaZulu-Natal, parts of the Eastern Cape and North West Provinces suffered severe damage from floods. This tragic event has left many counting the cost, not only of the loss of loved ones, but also the damage caused to homes, infrastructure, and the economy.

Severe weather events, a phenomena associated with global warming, are a reminder that climate change is already part of our lived reality.

The Sixth Assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says that by 2030, 50 per cent of the world’s population will live in coastal areas that are exposed to floods, storms and tsunamis intensifying the vulnerability of communities living in conditions of poverty.

IN the face of this reality, the importance of early warning systems and effective rapid response to disasters cannot be over emphasised.

Over the past 50 years, worldwide more than 11 000 weather, climate and water-related disasters were reported. While the number of disasters increased five-fold, the number of deaths decreased almost three-fold since the 1970s. This is thanks to improved early warnings and disaster risk reduction strategies by countries.

In our country the Weather Bureau has a proven track record in predicting extreme weather events with the recent flood warnings for Kwa Zulu Natal a good example of timeous warnings given to both disaster management and the public.

Over the next three years we are investing over one hundred million rand to upgrade and modernise weather stations to bring radar and hence forecasting in line with modern very short term prediction standards.

Honourable Members,

However good our forecasting, if we are to prevent loss of life we must begin to climate proof our infrastructure and our human settlement patterns.

In 2020, Cabinet approved the National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. Thus far, we have supported all forty four district municipalities to develop climate change adaptation strategies. The Provincial Climate Change Strategies for Limpopo, North West, KwaZulu-Natal and the Northern Cape have been reviewed in partnership with international advisors. We must now move with urgency to ensure these strategies are turned into funded plans.

In the coming year we will be assessing those of the remaining five provinces to update adaptation risks and vulnerabilities, and integrate climate mitigation response emissions profiles and implementation components into municipal operations.

The Climate Change Bill is now with the National Assembly and will be brought to you for consideration later this year.

An effective air quality management system must begin with proper monitoring stations. The resources for air quality monitoring in the priority areas are allocated to the South African Weather Services which manages 17 stations in the national priority areas and provides support to local government.

The Department also manages 43 strategically located stations outside the priority areas for until the end of this year. Local government has been capacitated to take over the stations in future. These training programs are coordinated with the support of the South African Weather Service and the National Association for Clean Air.

Honourable Members

Far too much plastic litter is leaking into our rivers and streams and as we saw in the recent floods, this ends up on our beaches, and in the ocean.

While organic debris will biodegrade, plastic waste needs to be collected by hand. The dramatic scale of the problem was brought home to me when I joined KwaZulu-Natal MEC of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Mr Ravi Pillay recently to assist with mop up operations at Blue Lagoon Beach in Durban.

Following that visit I can report to you today that Plastics SA funding civil society organisations to support beach clean- up operations in a number of areas across eThekwini.

But the root of the plastic litter problem lies in the fact that a number of local municipalities are facing serious challenges with waste collection services which results in illegal dumping .

In an attempt to assist the municipalities, the department engaged with COGTA and National Treasury in 2018/19 to enable municipalities to procure specialised waste vehicles through the Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG).

Over and above the grant, the Department in the 2021/22 financial year, further assist selected municipalities with the purchase of waste collection vehicles and what is known as yellow fleet.

As a result, 24 municipalities will be given waste management vehicles valued at almost R44, 6 million.

In Mpumalanga, the Mbombela and Bushbuckridge municipalities will each be provided with two compactor trucks and a skip loader, while the Ba-Phalaborwa municipality in Limpopo will be supplied with two compactor trucks and a tractor loader backhoe.

Compactor trucks are also to be provided to the Collins Chabane and Masilonyana municipalities, with one already having been delivered to the Matjhabeni municipality last month.

Skip loaders are to be delivered to the Matzikama, Merafong and Makana municipalities, and front end loaders to, amongst others, the West Rand, Dannhauser, Dawid Kruiper and Moses Kotane municipalities.

It is anticipated that the purchased fleet will have a huge impact in improving of waste collection and landfill operations.

I similarly led Good Green Deeds clean-up campaigns in Phillip Nel Park in Tshwane, Kagiso in Mogale City and joined the clean-up drive in Mangaung recently.

Honourable Members,

At the beginning of this month I released the Panel Review Report on the artificial breaching of the St Lucia Estuary in January 2021.

The review found that while the breach was contrary to the Global Environment Fund’s recommendations that no artificial breaching should occur, the breach had happened in terms of the Estuarine Management Plan which permits limited breaching for ecological reasons.

Among the Panel’s recommendations is that maintenance breaching could continue in exceptional circumstances, which needs to be clearly defined before any further action can take place. Also recommended is that iSimangaliso develop and intensify an in-house monitoring plan and build capacity to collect monitoring data.

To assist with relief to farmers in the uMfolozi-Msunduzi floodplain as a result of back-flooding, the report recommends clearing the Msunduzi and beach channel of vegetation and sediment to allow water to flow freely from the floodplain to the mouth. Also recommended is dune maintenance to limit encroachment of vegetation.

The Panel stated that moving forward, it is clear that the St Lucia Lake, protected and managed by iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority, can no longer be managed as an isolated system. Activities in the floodplain and catchment areas of the feeder rivers contribute to the health of the St Lucia system.

South Africa, as you know, is a signatory to the convention on Biodiversity. The post 2020 Biodiversity Framework, which will be considered in Kunming, China in September this year has three inter-related aspects:

• Conservation,

• Sustainable use, and

• Equitable Community Beneficiation

Cabinet has endorsed these three principles because they are in line with our own domestic policies and legislation. This means that going forward, it will be necessary to ensure that all three aspects are included in the policy documents that guide the Estuarine Management Plan.

Moving forward, the Department will be working with other government departments, including Agriculture and Rural Development, Water and Sanitation, as well District, Local Municipalities, and other stakeholders, to find solutions that will safeguard the priceless heritage that we have in the Park, while supporting the livelihoods of the communities in and around iSimangaliso.

Honourable Members,

In a country revered for our conservation successes and which boasts an abundance of wildlife, poaching is bound to be a problem. In recent years, South Africa has had to deal with more and more sophisticated international criminal syndicates targeting not only unique and rare plant species for their ornamental value, but also our rhino population and abalone stocks.

Early in February this year we reflected on the rhino poaching statistics for 2021 and acknowledged the steady decline in rhino poaching in the Kruger National Park, largely as a result of the increased intensity of anti-poaching activities in the Park and the close working relationship between the SAPS and SANParks resulting in arrests and convictions.

At that time, we also indicated that unfortunately one of the unintended consequences of these positive results is that poaching pressure has shifted across the country and KwaZulu Natal has become a key target area.

As a result key departmental resources have been deployed to actively support Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and the SAPS. This support includes assistance to law enforcement officials and Joint Operations Managers as well as the nerve centre in Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park.

As the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park is part of the Zululand Integrated Wildlife Zone, the national department has also been assisting the park to link up with potential donors that could support urgent priority interventions, aligned to Ezemvelo’s Rhino Crime Combating Intervention Strategy. With the additional resources from the SAPS that have now been deployed to the area, and the ongoing dedicated work of the Ezemvelo rangers, the Department is expecting increased arrests and we will continue to support this integrated effort over the next few months.

With regard to the poaching and smuggling of marine resources, such as abalone the integrated compliance and enforcement programme of the NATJOINTS Priority Committee on Marine and Ocean Crime (Phakisa Initiative 5), a significant number of operations were conducted during the 21/22 financial year.

During these operations marine resources acquired illicitly and associated equipment to the value of R 55 740 337 were confiscated. The removal of the “Tools of the Trade” is critical to disrupt the illicit activity, even if only for an interim period.

In order to re-focus our efforts around the management of the abalone resource and how best to prevent and combat the illicit trade, the Department together with a broad range of stakeholders will be developing an inclusive and holistic strategic response and action plan for the prevention and combatting of trade in illegally harvested abalone.

Honourable Chair,

South Africa’s efforts to protect unique biomes for present and future generations is key to ensuring the integrity of our biodiversity. In addition to the array of national and provincial parks, municipal and private reserves scattered across the country, we also boast a network of Botanical Gardens that protect area-specific unique and diverse plant species.

Earlier this year, I declared a portion of land as an extension to the Harold Porter National Botanical Garden in the Western Cape. This is one of 11 gardens managed by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI).

The 1.15-hectare portion of conservation estate is situated in the centre of the coastal fynbos region where the flora is at its richest, boasting the main fynbos plant families such as proteas, ericas and restios, including irises, daisies and orchids.

The World Wide Fund for Nature South Africa (WWF-SA) the property in Bettys Bay in 2018 for the purpose of allowing SANBI to manage the site as an extension to the existing Botanical Garden. The addition of this portion of land to the garden supplements its conservation value, expands the natural wetland habitat and serves as a natural corridor for wildlife.

South Africa’s first Botanical Garden in Limpopo, the Thohoyandou National Botanical Garden in the Vhembe Biosphere Reserve will be officially launched on Sunday this week.

This Garden, which is on a portion of provincial state-owned land and which has been managed as a nature reserve by the Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism (LEDET), includes a representative portion of the Soutpansberg Mountain Bushveld, a Vulnerable vegetation type with only 2.2% under protection. The addition of the garden will contribute to the representivity of the major biomes and vegetation types of South Africa into the national botanical garden system.

The Thohoyandou garden will serve as a biodiversity centre for the province showcasing traditional botanical garden infrastructure and, biodiversity research facilities which will be of benefit to the province.

R20 million has been secured from the Department’s Environmental Programmes, and a further R20m from the Department of Tourism, for garden development and tourism destination promotion. These projects are expected to create temporary jobs and work opportunities for the local community and enhance the Garden as a tourist destination.

Honourable Members,

In the 2022/23 financial year, the Department’s Environmental Programmes aim to create 62 264 work opportunities across the different “Working-For” Programmes and will target women, youth and persons living with disabilities.

Through our Natural Resources management portfolio, across the nine provinces, teams will clear 127 127 hectares of alien invasive species for the first time. Our teams will also conduct follow-up clearing of 457 607 hectares and rehabilitate 100 wetlands. The Working on Fire Programme will continue to provide assistance to respond to veld and forest fires through its bases allocated across the nine provinces.

This year we will support the Eastern Cape Parks & Tourism Authority in the OR Tambo District Municipality. with the construction and renovation of accommodation units.

Twenty infrastructure projects are to be undertaken in support of Traditional Authorities in Limpopo, thus improving economic opportunities for emerging game farmers in the province as part of the development of the wildlife economy. Similar projects will be initiated in Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife conservation areas in the Umkhanayakude District Municipality.

The Department has had significant progress in transforming the fishing sector. To date, we have issued 15-year fishing rights to more than 100 small-scale fishing co-operatives comprising one hundred thousand fishers in the Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. This year the process must be concluded for the 70 small scale fishing communities of the Western Cape.

Many provinces and municipalities are involved with us in supporting these important co-operatives. I urge those who have not yet joined to meet with us so we can extend programmes to improve tools of trade, business acumen, and marketing opportunities for these enterprises.

Honourable Members,

Allow me to conclude by thanking the Chairperson of the Select Committee Hon Tebogo Modise and all the committee members for your support for the Department’s programmes in the past year, and for your continued oversight which ensures that the work we do leaves no-one behind.

I would like to express my sincere thanks to our Director General, Ms Nomfundo Tshabalala and team environment, which includes the CEOs and Chairpersons of the Boards of our entities, for all your hard work despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Allow me to thank our MECs and Mayors who carry joint responsibility with me for ensuring a healthy environment. We look forward to continuing our partnership with you as we work to effectively combat climate change and biodiversity loss as we build a new deal for people and nature.

I thank you

Source: Government of South Africa