Towards a legal introduction of wetland mitigation banking in South Africa.
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Currently wetland conservation in South Africa is being implemented through various levels of enforcement including draft biodiversity offset regulations,1 which is based on the mitigation hierarchy principle.2 Implementation of these regulations would provide an opportunity for larger scale wetland conservation through wetland mitigation banks, as offsets will then be implemented as a regular legal permit condition, demanding compliance. Wetland mitigation banking benefits include established suitable wetland habitat prior to the need for the offset, reduced rehabilitation failure risk, improved compliance and better-quality planning and scientific input, which would be highly sought after by all permittees. This makes it a strong case for the development and implementation of the wetland mitigation banking option within South Africa. This dissertation recommends that international wetland mitigation banking concepts (e.g. United States of America) be reviewed and adapted to local conditions. Expected challenges during drafting and implementation of these regulations includes alignment with the current Environmental Impact Assessment regime, lack of a spatial database of protected areas inclusive of land ownership and design of a well-structured credit management scheme.