Biodiversity offsets and the EIA process : the Fairbreeze mine conundrum.
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The concept of biodiversity offsets has been around since the 1970s, but it is only in the last decade that a substantial interest has been shown by international bodies and governments in what benefits offsets can provide and how such biodiversity offsets should be implemented. South Africa has also shown interest in the tool, although as a recent entry into the biodiversity offset arena, there is currently a dearth of literature around South Africa’s regulatory and enabling legislation for biodiversity offsets and whether such legislation is adequate to ensure effective control and utilisation of biodiversity offsets. Through the review of international guidelines, South African and foreign statutes and policy documents, and a case study, this dissertation explores whether South Africa’s legislation currently provides an adequate framework for the implementation of biodiversity offsets, through the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process, and how this framework might be improved. This review shows that it is possible, within the constraints of administrative law, to utilise the EIA process to manage and implement biodiversity offsets. The review also highlights that there are several aspects which are not provided for in the legislation, which, it is put forward, would improve the effectiveness of biodiversity offsets in South Africa.