Minister Edna Molewa wishes all South Africans a peaceful Easter in nature
29 March 2018
The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa, encourages all South Africans to spend the Easter Weekend getting close to nature.
“As many South Africans head to the beaches and our national parks for the long weekend, and the school holidays, you are encouraged to be responsible in making use of these facilities,” said Dr Molewa.
“I would like to appeal to each and every person enjoying our country’s natural beauty and rich biodiversity to take special care and not to leave their litter behind, but to, instead, make a public contribution by assisting in keeping our beaches and national parks clean.”
Dr Molewa said the country’s national parks, nature reserves and Marine Protected Areas provide ecosystem services that translate to nature’s contribution to people.
“Our national parks are home to our country’s fauna and flora, the source of life, providers of ecosystem goods and services, irreplaceable sources of freshwater and fish stocks, buffers against natural disasters and climate change, laboratories for education, contributors to poverty reduction and economic development, as well as creators and propellers of livelihoods,” said Minister Molewa.
The survival of the national parks system and the country’s natural and cultural heritage truly lies in the people of South Africa.
“By visiting national parks we all contribute to the development of a national pride. We need greater visitation and interest among all sectors of society to ensure our national parks become known to all,” said Minister Molewa.
Minister Molewa has also reminded South Africans that all citizens have a right of access to all coastal public property.
The Minster had noted with concern that in recent years, some coastal municipalities had reportedly denied some people access to the beachfront and only allowing access to those living adjacent to areas in question.
“It is unlawful in terms of the National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act, to implement measures which prevent public access to the beach. It is only under certain strict circumstances that the public’s access to the beach may be limited. In addition, under the Act, no one may charge a fee (directly or indirectly) in order to access coastal public property, without the permission of the Minister responsible for environmental affairs,” said the Minister.
Access to natural resources including the beach and the country’s national parks is a constitutional right enshrined in the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (Act No. 108 of 1996). This right provides for the utilisation of natural resources within the coastal zone in a socially, economically justifiable and ecologically sustainable manner.
Plastic marine litter is not only unsightly, thus impacting on tourism, but can also have a devastating impact on marine life through entanglement and ingestion. It has the potential to spread throughout the food web as marine animals consume each other.
Minister Molewa has also encouraged members of the public to blow the whistle on all illegal activities, such as, beach driving, poaching and private beaches (exclusive use) in the coastal areas. The same applied to people speeding, littering and getting out of their vehicles in the national parks.
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