The first province to promulgate new Conservation legislation in South Africa, the Mpumalanga Conservation Act, Act 10 of 1998, together with its regulations continue to remain committed the new and modern legislation obliged by the state in the South African Constitution in maintaining a safe and clean environment. Committed to conservation, biodiversity, the protection of endangered and threatened species and conservation areas, the province of Mpumalanga continues to pursue conservation planning that has the support and buy-in of the entire governance system.
Together with the Wildlife Protection Services, the last ten years have seen the institutionalisation of revised legislation and South Africa’s acknowledgment of conservation bringing the country in line with the developed world and a commitment to the International Convention on Biodiversity.
Spanning across 7.9 million hectares, the province of Mpumalanga covers 22 magisterial districts and borders Mozambique, Swaziland and the Kruger National park whereby the function of the Wildlife Protection Services (WPS) include;
• Inspections and Compliance Monitoring
• Permits and Cites
• Hunting and Development
• Species Protection/Special Investigations
Deriving its conservation mandate from the Mpumalanga Conservation Act the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) is the delegated authority to act as the Management authority for CITES (Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species) in Mpumalanga and to manage all trade with species, hunting and wildlife.
Over and above their role as the Management authority for CITES, and since the MTPA is mandated for regulating Conservation in the province, the Regulatory function for all legislation promulgated in terms of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA), Act 107 of 1998 lies with the MTPA and is performed by the Wildlife Protection Services. Where challenges extend to providing protection for the 85 threatened and 57 endangered species within Mpumalanga Province, the appropriate actions to address habitat loss, environmental degradation and fragmentation of landscapes remain paramount.
Where Biodiversity is concerned, the MTPA further stresses the importance in forming a steadfast foundation, shared learning and education around sustaining local biodiversity and its impact on human life, including food, many medicines, industrial products, as well as the air we breathe. By educating local communities as well as tourists on the interdependence between sustenance, health and well-being; to fundamental biological systems and processes, civilians, influencers and governments are starting to pay closer attention to the critical importance of maintaining native biodiversity.
With a high level of biological diversity, three recognised centres of endemism in the province (Barberton, Sekhukhuneland and Wolkberg) and one proposed centre of endemism (Lydenburg), the MTPA continues to encourage authorities to take the necessary steps to ensure that sustainable development takes into account the long term needs of the natural world and a worldwide acceptance of the importance of maintaining biodiversity.
Although Mpumalanga is renowned for its diversity of flora and fauna, critical areas of high biodiversity importance in Mpumalanga are not well conserved, to this end, the MTPA have made an ongoing commitment to conservation planning that has the support and buy-in of the entire governance system. Biodiversity and conservation have been identified as a priority – and we aim to be successful!