The area of land under nature conservation is set to increase substantially, according to Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene.
In his medium-term budget, tabled on Wednesday (22/10/2014), he said the percentage would rise to 10.7 percent of the country’s surface area, against a planned target of 8.5 percent.
“The database for the protected areas has been evaluated, and the SANParks expansion plan has been submitted. This will result in more land being under conservation.”
Nene said the department was well behind on processing environmental impact assessments.
“The department managed to process only 53 of 104 (51 percent) of the applications within the period under review.”
Delays were due mainly by the high number of applications received “and the limited human resources capacity allocated to this function”.
The process would be prioritised in the latter part of this year.
He also revealed that the department had only “limited” access to the plastic bag levy income collected by the SA Revenue Service.
This had resulted in only one plastic buy-back centre being established this year. – Sapa