Greening and Open Space Management
Introduction and Background
In recognition of the Constitutional obligation, the department promulgated the National Environmental Management Act 107 of 1998 in support of the environmental management function in all spheres of government. Based on this, the department implements projects as some form of response to the challenge of environmental degradation whilst addressing environmental conservation and protection. Open spaces play an integral part in maintaining the environmental integrity in most settlements. Overtime, these open spaces have been degraded due to a number of demands ranging from housing developments and other land use demands and at times end up being illegal dump sites. Projects implemented under this focus area contribute not only to the maintenance and the integrity of the natural environment but also plays a significant role in the biodiversity conservation, social and physical well-being of the human population by creating job opportunities and also providing food security through the planting of fruit trees.
The promulgation of the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act (Chapter 3 of 2004) provided for the development of bio-regional plans wherein sensitive biodiversity areas would be mapped to inform land use planning and management of natural resources by a range of sectors and such plans would assist in identifying ecologically sensitive areas and improve environmental management practices.
Through the implementation of projects under this focus area, issues relating to conservation and environmental protection are addressed and eventually responding to the service delivery outputs and the mandate of the department. Greening and Open Space Management further ensures that use of greener technology is enhanced, land use planning and environmental planning decisions are strengthened through the incorporation of the alternative energy sources, biodiversity and ecosystems aspects in the local government planning processes. The development of an open space network is an integral part of shaping the community areas as well as a pull factor for investments in areas. Equally important, is the integration of greening and open space management into any developmental objectives and plans by municipalities.
Given the growth in population and the demand for settlements as well as the continuously growing need for natural resources to sustain livelihoods, the programme supports and promotes the use of alternative greener technologies in such developments. Through the greening and open space management focus area, newly developed human settlements are supported through installation of greener technologies as well as greening of open spaces.
The Greening and Open Space Management intends to address the poorly managed areas such as unmanaged open spaces, illegal dump sites, eroded areas and areas overgrown with vegetation. These areas do not only attract poor waste management, criminal activities and health hazards. The transformation of these areas into recreational areas for the communities to relax and enjoy the natural environment. This will also improve the well-being of the communities.
Greening and Open Space Management addresses the following issues:
- Neglected Open spaces in communities
- Illegal dumping
- Lack of social resources
- Improve the social well-being that enhances strong and healthy communities
- Recreation for family and community gatherings
- Empowering communities with historical indigenous information
- Restoration, enhancing and rehabilitation of open spaces
- Maximized measures towards pollution mitigation
- Improved climate change adaptation through minimization of biodiversity loss
- Encourage use of greener technologies to mitigate against environmental degradation
The constitution of the Republic of South Africa under chapter 2 the Bill of Rights stipulates that;
“everyone has the constitutional right to have an environment that is not harmful to her health and to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations through reasonable legislative and other measures that— promote conservation, to enhance the ecological integrity of natural system”. The following are some of the legislations that are applicable:
- The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1993 (Act No. 200 of 1993)
- The Environmental Conservation Act, 1989 (Act No. 73 of 1989)
- The National Environmental Management, 1998(Act No. 107 of 1998)
- The National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act (Act No. 10 of 2004)
- The National Environmental Management Waste Act (Act No. 59 of 2008)
- The National Environmental Management Air Quality Act (Act No. 39 of 2004)
- National Climate Change Response White Paper (October 2011)
- Development and rehabilitation of environmentally friendly recreational parks
A high quality environment is an essential ingredient to sustainable human settlements hence there is a need for proper and well maintained open spaces. Open spaces are needed for spiritual enhancement, well-being, education and recreation. Well-developed and maintained open spaces do not only provide recreational opportunities to communities but may also serve as a catalyst for investments in such areas as they will serve as a pull factor to business opportunities.
- Construction of park related infrastructure employing alternative technologies
- Installation of park playing equipment and park furniture
- Rehabilitation of existing parks
- Installation of irrigation systems and alternative energy sources
- Landscaping and planting of indigenous trees
- Rehabilitation of illegal dumps and open spaces
- Development of Open Space Management Plan for municipalities (Not a stand-alone category)
Nurseries are central to the realisation of greener communities. These do not only provide economic opportunities but serve as reserves for biodiversity through propagation of plants which can be planted throughout our communities. The challenge of global warming with the imminent results of challenges in food security has led to the nurseries being viewed as one of the vehicles to combat the challenge through the provision of horticulture education to communities as well as planting of fruit trees and vegetable seedlings. In some communities, nurseries have provided jobs and created assets for such communities as the demands for plants has risen and creating greater opportunities for commercialisation.
- Construction of nurseries with associated infrastructure
- Propagation of seedlings (trees and vegetables)
- Environmental Education and Awareness on Horticulture
- Medicinal Plants
- Tree planting
Studies have shown that climate change is to have devastating effects in Africa and its communities more over the poorer communities. In mitigating some of the impacts, tree planting has been singled out as one of the mitigating interventions not only to climate change impacts but will also address the issue of food security, as well as the prevention of soil erosion and degradation. Furthermore, trees are an integral part of human settlements as they provide for life as well as acting as shields during adverse weather conditions. Deliverables in this category include but not limited to the following:
- Planting of indigenous
- Planting of fruit trees
- Environmental awareness and education
- Construction of environmental education centers
Though many interventions aimed at better environmental management practices have been implemented, there has been a greater challenge in terms of sustaining this due to mainly the need for a change of mindset of people. This deliverable aims at providing facilities and resources that will raise awareness in environmental issues.
The activities involved include amongst other things:
- The construction of environmental education centers with associated infrastructure
- Capacity building programmes in line with the training interventions of the department
- Community empowerment and awareness through the celebration of the Environmental Calendar days
- Educational materials and other educational mechanisms for schools and public in general
- Alternative / greener technology sources projects
Over exploitation of natural resources to satisfy energy needs has led not only the depletion of these natural resources but has caused greater harm to the environment. In rural as well as peri-urban communities, firewood and coal are the main sources of energy which sustain livelihoods. In areas where fossils such as coal are used to provide energy, there has been evidence that the quality of air has not only depreciated below acceptable standards but impact badly on human health which cost government millions. Furthermore, the forever growing need for firewood has led to deforestation resulting in topsoil being eroded leaving behind unproductive land which cannot sustain agriculture let alone subsistence farming. This category promotes not only the use of alternative sources of energy but also efficient mechanisms on utilization of natural resources. The deliverables in this category includes amongst other things:
- Installation of solar water heating panels
- Installation of bore-holes
- Clean-fires technology
- Use of energy friendly applications
- Number of Nurseries established
- Number of Environmental Centres established
- Number of Trees Planted
- Number of boreholes drilled
- Number of recreational/Community parks established/upgraded
- Number of Open Space Management Plans developed