After nearly a decade of lobbying and sustained efforts by a small committee of dedicated environmentalists, the Magaliesberg has been declared a World Biosphere Reserve.
On the 2nd of April three years ago, the Centre for Environmental Rights had just opened its doors.
The first office was tiny, in Observatory, Cape Town. We had one staff member, one part-time volunteer, a telephone, a computer, some donated furniture and books, a website, one funder – and a mission: getting environmental rights onto the agenda, and providing the legal support that our stakeholders articulated so passionately in the consultation that preceded our establishment.
27 March 2013 was the closing day for comments on the draft Infrastructure Development Bill, introduced by Minister of Economic Development Ebrahim Patel in the National Assembly last month, and designed to facilitate designation, authorisation and implementation of the special infrastructure projects (SIPs). Developments that can be declared as SIPs include all major infrastructure works of “significant economic or social importance” or that would “contribute substantially” to any government infrastructure development strategy, and expressly includes mines, oil and gas pipelines, refineries, and power stations – all developments that pose high risk to the environment.
A legal opinion has been prepared for the Centre for Environmental Rights by Kate Hofmeyr and Nick Ferreira on Class Actions in repsect of damages arising from mining activities.
While mines and mining operations can contribute to economic development and provide jobs, they can also bring about suffering for individuals and communities by causing damage to the land, water and air around them.
Individuals and communities living with the negative impacts of mining can fight back by taking steps to protect themselves, their homes, their livelihoods and their neighbours. The Centre for Environmental Rights has published a guide.
On 14 April Northern Farm's 2 000 Bovelder cattle go under the hammer. The Bovelder breed has been developed over decades on Northern Farm and it has played a major role in the beef industry, providing thousands of top quality genetic breeding stock all over Southern Africa.
The future of Northern Farm, a popular weekend recreation area where a system of dams and irrigation assist in filtering water from the water treatment plant, hangs in the balance.
The farm is productive, carrying 2000-strong herd of Bovelder cattle and 350 hectares of grazing, mealies and other crops. The farm is also equipped, including specifically nine centre pivots and other irrigation equipment. The 70 contract staff employed on the farm, are being laid off.