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Overview of the department

Director-General: Ms Nomfundo Tshabalala

Director-General’s contact details


Tel: +27 86 111 2468 / +27 12 399 9008

Mission statement


A prosperous and equitable society living in harmony with our natural resources.


Providing leadership in environmental management, conservation and protection towards sustainability for the benefit of South Africans and the global community.


We are driven by our passion as custodians and ambassadors of the environment, we have to be proactive and foster innovative thinking and solutions to environmental management premised on a people-centric approach that recognises the centrality of Batho Pele, for it is when we put our people first that we will serve with integrity, an important ingredient in a high performance-driven organisation such as ours.

  • We are passionate about our values and we live them in our day-to-day activities
  • We are dedicated to our work and walk the extra mile
  • We show pride in our mandate, mission and vision
  • As custodians and ambassadors of the environment, we render a quality service to the South African public
  • We build and promote an energising and inspiring work environment
  • We assertively promote and advocate our standpoints, messages and reputation
  • We demonstrate openness and willingness to learn from each other and to support others in their endeavour to learn and to expand their strengths
  • We respect and appreciate everyone's individual strengths
  • We show empathy when interacting with others
  • We display a professional and confident stance, even in difficult situations
  • We exercise gentle authority input
  • We support and assist one another
  • We promote work-life balance
  • We make informed decisions in order to optimise outcomes and to manage risk
  • We behave ethically and confront and correct unethical behaviour
  • We allow and invite honest debate – we listen first to understand each other
  • We respect and value all individuals, inside and outside the organisation, for their diverse backgrounds, strengths, styles and ideas, regardless of their rank
  • We are honest and keep our commitments and promises made to others
  • We drive the DFFE's agenda, rather than pursuing self-interest
  • We support a decision once it is taken and we are supportive and positive about others when apart
  • We are focused on our key result areas and manage activities that slow down their achievement or do not add value to these
  • We accept accountability for our decisions, actions and results
  • We work as a team, capitalising on people's individual strengths to secure our outcomes
  • We demonstrate a 'can-do' attitude and strive for fast delivery of results
  • We help others to perform at their best by giving open feedback and by supporting their individual development plans
  • We involve all affected individuals in our plans, goals and decisions
  • We foster innovative thinking and solutions
  • We adopt best available science, knowledge and practice
  • We areopen-minded, willing to listen and to learn from others
  • We strive for improvement and we drive and support change
  • We cooperate across all organisational structures and break down existing silos
  • We work collaboratively with our partners and stakeholders, establish and pursue shared goals. 

Introduction and background

The legal mandate and core business of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) are to manage, protect and conserve South Africa's environment and natural resources. The mandate is informed by section 24 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (Act No. 108 of 1996), which affords everyone the right to (a) an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being; and (b) to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures.

To give effect to this constitutional environmental right and the need for sound environmental management and sustainable development, the DFFE has over a period of time developed a comprehensive environmental management legislative/regulatory framework. This regulatory framework comprises acts of parliament (environmental laws), regulations, policies, norms and standards, and other regulatory tools that are aimed at promoting sound environmental management practices in order to protect and conserve the environment for the benefit of current and future generations.

In addition to the development, implementation and ongoing review of a progressive regulatory framework for sound environmental management, other critical environmental management interventions by the DFFE include raising awareness on key environment issues and promoting a culture of environmental activism among ordinary citizens, building capacity within the sector, and establishing and strengthening national, regional and global partnerships to address common environmental challenges.

The long-term vision of the DFFE is to have "a prosperous and equitable society living in harmony with our natural resources", as outlined in our medium-term strategic plan. To support the achievement of this vision, the DFFE has identified five strategic goals, as follows:

  • Environmental economic contribution optimised;
  • Environmental/Ecological integrity safeguarded and enhanced;
  • Social transformation within our communities;
  • Global agenda influenced and obligations met; and
  • A capable and efficient department.


Programmes, purpose and strategic outcomes

Programme 1: Administration


  • Purpose: To provide strategic leadership, management and support services to the department
  • Strategic Outcomes:
    • Good governance and compliance with legislative requirements and effective financial management
    • Improved contribution on socio-economic transformation and empowerment of previously disadvantaged communities
    • An adequately skilled and capacitated workforce which is transformed and representative of South Africa's race and gender demographics
    • Improved human resources capacity of the sector
Programme 2: Regulatory Compliance and Sector Monitoring


  • Purpose: To promote the development of an enabling legal regime and licensing authorisation system that will promote enforcement and compliance, and ensure coordination of sector performance
  • Strategic Outcomes:
    • Improved compliance with environmental legislation and environmental threats mitigated
    • Aligned environmental management regulatory frameworks, systems, tools and instruments
    • Improved human resources capacity of the sector
Programme 3: Oceans and Coasts


  • Purpose: To promote, manage and provide strategic leadership on oceans and coastal conservation
  • Strategic Outcomes:
    • Threats to environmental integrity managed and ecosystem conserved
    • Strengthened knowledge, science and policy interface
Programme 4: Climate Change and Air Quality


  • Purpose: To lead, promote, facilitate, inform, monitor and review the mainstreaming of environmental sustainability, low carbon emissions, and climate resilience and air quality in South Africa's transition to sustainable development
  • Strategic Outcomes:
    • A just transition to a low carbon economy and climate resilient society
    • Threats on environmental quality and human health mitigated
    • International cooperation supportive of South African environmental/sustainable development priorities
Programme 5: Biodiversity and Conservation


  • Purpose: To ensure the regulation and management of biodiversity, heritage and conservation matters in a manner that facilitates sustainable economic growth and development
  • Strategic Outcomes:
    • Ecosystems conserved, managed and sustainably used
    • Biodiversity threats mitigated
    • Improved access, fair and equitable sharing of benefits
 Programme 6: Environmental Programmes


  • Purpose: To implement the expanded public works programme and green economy projects in the environmental sector
  • Strategic Outcomes:
    • More decent jobs created and sustained, with youth, women and persons with disabilities prioritised
    • Ecosystems rehabilitated and managed
    • Integrated fire management
    • Infrastructure, adaptation and disaster risk reduction
    • Improved human resources capacity of the sector
Programme 7: Chemicals and Waste Management


  • Purpose: To manage and ensure that chemicals and waste management policies and legislation are implemented and enforced in compliance with chemicals and waste management authorisations, directives and agreements
  • Strategic Outcomes:
    • Threats on environmental quality and human health mitigated
    • An adequately capacitated local sphere of government which is able to execute its environmental management function effectively
Programme 8: Forestry Management


  • Purpose: To develop and facilitate the implementation of policies and targeted programmes to ensure the management of forests, the sustainable use and protection of land and water, and the management of agricultural risks and disasters
  • Strategic Outcomes:
    • Sustainable production of state forests
    • A transformed forestry sector in line with the master plan
    • Indigenous forests sustainably managed and regulated
    • Threats on environmental quality and human health mitigated
Programme 9: Fisheries Management


  • Purpose: To ensure the sustainability, utilisation and orderly access to marine living resources through improved management and regulation
  • Strategic Outcomes:
    • Effective and enabling regulatory framework for the management and development of marine and freshwater living resources (oceans, coasts, rivers and dams)
    • A well-managed fisheries and aquaculture sector that sustains and improves economic growth and development
    • Socio-economic conditions for fishing communities improved



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