||In the Western Cape, authorisation for the change in use of agricultural land is divided between three statutory agencies with different – and in part conflicting – objectives.
Cultivation of virgin land is subject to authorisation by the national Department of
Agriculture’s Directorate of Agricultural Land and Resources Management (DALRM),
responsible for maintaining the productive potential of agricultural land, in terms of the
Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act 43 of 1983.
Any change in land use from grazing to other agricultural use has to be authorised by the
Western Cape Department of Environmental and Cultural Affairs and Sport (DECAS) in
terms of the EIA Regulations.
Responsibility for evaluating EIAs in the Western Cape was recently transferred from what
was Cape Nature Conservation to the DECAS, the former being transformed into a statutory
board, the Western Cape Nature Conservation Board (WCNCB), responsible for conservation
and management of biodiversity and natural ecosystems.
There is a co-operation agreement between the former Cape Nature Conservation and DALRM that applications for new cultivated lands are to follow a single co-ordinated process when applying for authorisations. This agreement is now seen to be between DECAS and DALRM, although it has not been formally amended to reflect the changed administrative functions of these two departments.
WCNCB continues to make specialist scientific input into the evaluation of applications for
change of land use, and staff undertake joint site inspections with local agricultural extension
officers to determine whether the EIA Regulations should apply or an application for exemption from the Regulations should be submitted. Joint reports from WCNCB and DALRM are forwarded to DECAS for processing of applications.
At times this system does not work; authorisation by DALRM to cultivate land precedes contact with WCNCB.