Environmental Affairs hosts a Biodiversity Compliance Awareness workshop with muti traders and traditional healers

19 January 2017

The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), in collaboration with the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD) and the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) hosted a successful biodiversity compliance awareness workshop in Johannesburg today, Thursday19 January 2017.

The one day workshop brought together government authorities, muti-traders and traditional healers operating at the Faraday and Mai Mai markets, with an aim to promote compliance with the relevant environmental legislation, particularly the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act by the “muti-traders,” “muti-collectors” and traditional healers operating at the “muti-markets” in Johannesburg. 

The DEA, together with provincial conservation departments, have been receiving increased complaints from members of the public about a diverse number of threatened species listed in terms of the Threatened or Protected Species (TOPS) Regulations that are being illegally sold at “muti-markets” around the country. In light of the complaints, government has embarked on a compliance awareness drive to, amongst others, empower traders in the “muti-markets” industry by providing knowledge about environmental legislation and to enable them to play a meaningful role in the conservation of the country’s biodiversity.

TOPS Regulations and relevant environmental legislation are in place to ensure sustainable utilisation of indigenous genetic and biological resources and promoting the fair and equitable sharing of benefits. They are also tools that balance the rights of those that own indigenous biological resources and the associated traditional knowledge with those that access these resources for commercial or industrial use.

The biodiversity compliance workshop builds on the Minister of Environmental Affairs Dr Edna Molewa’s call for recognition and involvement of rural communities in the conservation of biodiversity during discussions on livelihoods and food security at the 17th Conference of Parties (COP17) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Johannesburg.

Given South Africa’s rich biological diversity that offers huge economic potential, Government has adopted the National Biodiversity Economy Strategy, which is at the heart of promoting guardianship of wildlife within communities. The strategy seeks to increase the biodiversity contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) while conserving the country’s ecosystems. It also aims to contribute to the transformation of the biodiversity economy through inclusive economic opportunities, thereby ensuring equitable benefit of natural resources.

Biological diversity provides food security, ailment treatment, the provision of clean air and water; contributes to local livelihoods and economic development, is essential for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, poverty reduction and contribution to the objectives of the National Development Plan.

Details of similar workshops planned for KwaZulu-Natal and other areas will be revealed in due course.

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Albi Modise
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