Environmental sustainability The Environment and Conservation Branch is working to promote a pristine environment that facilities economic transformation.
Conservation priorities The Free State is 128 000km² in extent, or 12.8-million hectares. This means that it is the third-largest province in South Africa. Located in the centre of the country, with ideal soils and climate, the province is an extremely important food producer and the environmental health of the province is therefore vital to the food security of the country. The province boasts a strong conservation mindset, not only from within the DESTEA but also from land owners generally.
nvironmental sustainability within the Free State Province is conducted within the prescripts of promoting Section 24 of the South African Constitution, recognising and promoting environmental rights as contained in the Bill of Rights. We also recognise our responsibility to promote a pristine environment that facilitates a transformative economic agenda to create jobs and a just society. The main focus areas are: • Environmental Quality and Protection: environmental education and awareness; waste and air quality management; environmental impacts and assessments; EPWP. Also promoting the circular economy with a particular focus on waste and recycling. • Biodiversity Conservation and Research: m a i n te n a n c e o f re s o r t s a n d re s e r ve s ; protected areas maintenance and expansion; biodiversity research; game culling and auc tions including the transfor mation and promotion of Biodiversity Economy ; transformative entrepreneurship; development and promotion of the wildlife economy.
Prior to the adoption of the Free State Protected Area Expansion Strategy there were already 240 formally declared Nature Reserves in the province. Since the inception of the Biodiversity Stewardship programme an additional 53 000 hectares of private land have been declared and added to the conservation estate. Priority focus is now on extending these conservation areas into the remaining natural areas of the province thereby conserving wetlands, rivers, terrestrial ecosystems and species for future generations. In addition to the formal conservation areas, there are over 300 000 hectares of game and mixed-species ranches. The province generates over R600-million per annum from the local hunting industry, which maintains many huntingsupport businesses such as taxidermists, curio producers, etc. ■
Current considerations • Ensuring sustainable environmental management. • Improve national and provincial state of environmental reporting. • Integration of environmental objectives in national, provincial and instruments and tools. • Implementation of Chapter 4 of NEMA provisions in relation to fair decision-making and conflict management (conciliation, arbitration and investigations). Responding to EIA complaints and appeals without compromising on economic transformation, job creation and the promotion of spatial integration.
FREE STATE BUSINESS 2021