Implications of the regulatory landscape for the restoration of natural capital

Implications of the regulatory landscape for the restoration of natural capital

The principle that a person or the organisation responsible for pollution or environmental degradation needs to pay for the restoration of the affected ecosystem has been established in South African legislation by the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) Act and applied in a number of other Acts. However, this alone does not ensure successful restoration and the need exists to further develop existing legislation to regulate the restoration process. This will help ensure that adverse environmental impacts are successfully remediated to protect the environment. One way of doing this would be to regulate the process in the relevant act for each sector. Alternatively, guidelines for restoration could be developed separately and the use of these made a requirement in each Act.


  • existing legislation should be modified to regulate the process of restoration as prescribed in the South African legislation to ensure that the desired end-points are reached


  • the regulated process should include phased end-points acknowledging that restoration takes a long time and should continue until the desired end-points are met

The following should be considered:

  • a monitoring and evaluation requirement to be included in the regulation of restoration to ensure success
  • allowing flexibility in the permitting/licensing systems in order to respond appropriately to findings of monitoring and evaluation with minimum bureaucracy
  • the introduction of incentives for the polluter to comply beyond minimum requirements of permits/licences
  • capacity to effectively implement existing legislation should be developed to prevent degradation and ensure successful restoration
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