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LETHAL NEGLECT - MISMANAGEMENT OF WC NATURAL RESOURCES
The Western Cape’s biosphere is a particularly fragile one, balanced delicately on very precise needs for fire and rainwater. The residents of this province depend on this ecosystem in many ways, but particularly for their water supply. So threats to the healthy functioning of this system have very real consequences for the province’s economy and the lives of its citizens.
It is therefore of great concern that the proper management of these resources is being given neither the attention nor the priority it needs. The consequences for the citizens are declining quality and quantity of water, more expensive extraction of water, greater risk of fire – and, of course, loss of the natural heritage which the province is world renowned for.
The key player in the management of the Western Cape’s environmental reserves is CapeNature, a statutory board established in 2000 and to whom the provincial government has outsourced its responsibilities for managing the province’s nature reserves.
But the board does not have the funding or the authority it needs to properly manage the province’s natural resources. An unworkable financial and management model is making it impossible for the Board to fulfil its core responsibilities of maintaining biodiversity and managing water quality and quantity.
At the same time, a range of other institutions in the province with responsibility for environmental management outside of the reserves, including the Departments of Water Affairs and Forestry and of Agriculture and various municipal administrations, are often unable or unwilling to perform their environmental management functions.