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Publication of the draft National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Bill for public comment

Background and context

The Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Ms Barbara Creecy, hereby announces the publication of the draft National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Bill (the Biodiversity Bill) for public comment.

The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (the department) is the lead department responsible for the biodiversity sector, which includes the terrestrial, freshwater and marine sub-sectors. Biodiversity conservation within the country is currently achieved through the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 (Act No. 10 of 2004) (NEM: BA), as well as provincial conservation legislation. As a result of the recent finalisation of the White Paper on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of South Africa's Biodiversity, 2023 and due to a number of implementation challenges being identified in NEM: BA, this has necessitated substantial amendment of its provisions.

At policy and legislative level, the Biodiversity Bill has been informed by the:

  • White Paper on Conservation and Sustainable Use of South Africa's Biodiversity, 2023; and
  • National Environmental Management Laws Amendment Act, 2022.

The primary purposes of the Biodiversity Bill are to:

  • provide for the conservation and sustainable utilisation of ecosystems and species within the Republic of South Africa;
  • provide for the duty of care towards all components of biodiversity and for the well-being of wild animals;
  • provide for the development and alignment of biodiversity planning tools;
  • provide for the management of the impacts of invasive species;
  • provide for the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from bioprospecting involving indigenous biological resources and indigenous knowledge;
  • address historical imbalances, enable and facilitate transformation, facilitate cultural practices and achieve equity within the biodiversity sector;
  • provide for the South African National Biodiversity Institute to develop, manage, co-ordinate, promote and provide assistance on biodiversity;
  • provide for the Scientific Authority to assist in regulating trade in specimens of species which are subject to international agreements regulating international trade and to assist with the regulation of species of concern; and
  • provide for appropriate measures in response to climate change.

The proposed amendments to NEM: BA involve, amongst others: 

  • a revised and more flexible regulatory approach, by no longer referring to restricted activities. The detailed regulatory provisions, which can now be more specifically drafted to relate to the needs of specific species or ecosystems, will be stipulated by notice in the Government Gazette or in regulations;
  • the inclusion of additional provisions relating to the listing of species and ecosystems, implementation of international agreements and wildlife trafficking;
  • complete revision of the provisions pertaining to bioprospecting, access and benefit-sharing; and
  • provision of stricter penalties for offences pertaining to, among others, wildlife trafficking and offences committed by State officials.

The Biodiversity Bill will enable:

  • more effective implementation of the provisions and achievement of the objectives of NEM: BA;
  • greater protection of species and ecosystems;
  • more flexible management of species and ecosystems;
  • more effective achievement of economic benefits in the biodiversity sector; and
  • transformation of the biodiversity sector.

Once the Biodiversity Bill is enacted and in operation, the bill will repeal and replace the current NEM:BA.

The department presented the Biodiversity Bill to Cabinet for approval. Cabinet approved the Biodiversity Bill on 27 March 2024 for publication for public comment.



By post

The Director-General: Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment
Attention: Magdel Boshoff
Private Bag X447

By hand

Environment House
473 Steve Biko Road

By email

Enquiries in connection with this notice can be directed to:

Ms Magdel Boshoff
Mobile: 083 952 2334


  • Written representations received after the closing date may be considered. 


The public is herewith invited to submit written representations on the Biodiversity Bill within 60 (sixty) days from the date of publication of the notice in the Government Gazette, or from the date of publication of the corresponding newspaper notice, whichever is the later date. 



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