A legislative and biophysical assessment of the regulation of off-road vehicles on South African beaches.
The legislative management of Off-Road Vehicles (ORVs) on beaches has evolved over a period of time in response to a range of influences and changing circumstances within the various social, institutional, economic and biophysical systems. The impact of ORVs on beaches in South Africa is multifaceted and when viewed holistically incorporates the interaction between the biophysical, social, economic and institutional environments. This Study focuses only on the legislative and biophysical environments associated with the impact of ORVs on beaches. Sustainable coastal development draws attention to the "process" character of sustainable development that needs to be worked towards over time in an iterative manner. It highlights the need to take into account the current reality of prevailing circumstances, the uncertainty of the future, limited understanding of coastal ecosystems and communities, and the complex interactions between and within the human and non human components of the environment. An understanding of the ecological integrity and effective governance dimensions (being the focus of Study), although only two of the five dimensions of sustainable coastal development, contributes towards an understanding of the sustainability of the impact of ORVs on beaches within the South African context. The legislative environment is investigated from the management perspective of the national Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. This Study determines whether effective governance is being achieved through the ongoing management of the impact of ORVs on South African beaches. The institutional management at a national level has resulted in the conditional banning of ORVs from beaches, which has resulted in promoting the ecological integrity of beaches, therefore contributing towards sustainable coastal development. The physical system is investigated where appropriate in terms of the biophysical parameters within which ORVs are managed on beaches within the inter-tidal zone as per the ORV General Policy (1994). In order to understand the biophysical system within which ORVs are managed, the existing literature and research concerning the impact of ORVs on beaches is reviewed, including existing literature on beach geomorphology and beach biota. A Case Study Area was selected for an experimental investigation to determine the biophysical impact of ORVs on sandy beaches. The experiment was conducted at Leven Point, north of Cape Vidal situated on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast within the St Lucia Marine Reserve. The ORV General Policy (1994) has been superseded by the ORV Regulations (2001), which do not however, specify the biophysical delineation of the management of ORVs on beaches. This Study has included recommendations applicable to the management of ORVs on beaches in South Africa in terms of the ORV Regulations (2001). These recommendations advocate the conservation of the dynamic biophysical environment of the inter-tidal zone on beaches, and the need to take a sustainable coastal development approach to applications for Recreational Use Areas (RUAs) in terms of the ORV Regulations (dated 21 December 2001).