On 13 March 2013, representatives from the national Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) held a workshop in Vaalwater to identify key factors in the development of a co-ordinated natural agricultural resource management strategy for the Modimolle Local Municipality. This local authority area had been selected as a pilot study on account of its land use diversity. The intentionis to use the results of the study as a basis fromwhich to develop guidelines for natural resource management nationally.
The workshop was attended by representatives of local community organisations and government departments at national, provincial and district level. Disappointingly, no representatives of the Modimolle Local Municipality – the primary beneficiaries of the workshop – managed to attend. The consensus of the meeting was that the followingwere the key factors affecting natural resource conservation in the area currently:
Lack of clarity of the roles of the various layers of government in taking responsibility for and implementing resource management policies – despite the presence of world-class legislation;
Lack of capacity (managerial, technical and financial) and interest on the part of these departments in conservation and environmental management (e.g. theabsence of the local municipality); and failure to incorporate resource management issues into the local municipal integrated development plans (IDPs);
Ignorance among land owners and users of each other’s legitimate rights and aspirations in respect ofland use in the context of the broader community;
Concern about the spread of alien and invasive plant species and inadequate action by both government departments and the public to counter this spread.
The meeting concurred that the way ahead should focus on:
- Developing greater role clarity among government departments and promoting greater urgency in their actions to implement and enforce the existing legislation;
- Creating an awareness among all sectors of the community of the benefits of responsible natural resource management; by promoting, for example via NGOs and community organisations, community education about the need for and benefits of resource management; and the sometimes competing legitimate needs and rights of other sectors of the community;
- Seeking ways in which these organisations might beable to work with government departments to realise mutually beneficial resource management and conservation goals.