Case Study from the Land Use Planning Sector, in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa

When development policies, plans, programs and other strategic actions are implemented, varied economic, social and environmental effects result, some of which are unforeseen. In order to identify, assess and address undesirable negative impacts and maximise positive impacts before such initiatives are carried out, it is useful to undertake Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEAs) to inform and guide decision-making.

An SEA process extends the aims and principles of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for a specific project upstream, into the decision-making process, where major alternatives can still be identified and adopted.

SRK Consulting recently completed an SEA of the draft Spatial Development Framework (SDF) for the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. The project included a revision of the conservation component of the Metropolitan Open Space System (MOSS) for the municipal area. The SEA process achieved the following objectives:

• Identified opportunities and constraints for various land uses, including agriculture, housing, biodiversity conservation, service infrastructure and industry, among others
• Assessed potential conflicts between the various land uses
• Updated and improved the Conservation Assessment and Plan for the municipal area by applying systematic conservation planning principles, namely: representation, complementarity and efficiency. Using C-Plan, a computer-based decision-support system (Pressey et al 1995), it was possible to design a conservation system, which will enable the long-term persistence of key ecological processes, habitats and species of special concern, but also be in least conflict with development objectives. Targets for habitats were determined using species-area relationship curves, targets for ecological processes derived from national targets and the latest methods in Freshwater Biodiversity Conservation Assessment, and targets for species of special concern were set to facilitate the protection of at least the single largest population of each species
• Identified infrastructure planning gaps, as well as opportunities for improved efficiency
• Made necessary amendments to the SDF plan to reconcile conflicts and improve integration
• Compiled implementation guidelines to further promote sustainable planning and development

The integrated manner in which the SDF and conservation plan were simultaneously assessed and revised provided the ideal opportunity to identify options to reconcile land use conflicts and achieve desirable outcomes for the city’s land use planners, conservation practitioners, and political decision-makers. This integrated product is expected to greatly assist in the achievement of service delivery and land development targets and sustainability development.

For further information regarding SRK’s services in SEAs and conservation planning, contact Warrick Stewart

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