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White Paper on Conservation and Sustainable Use of South Africa’s Biodiversity


The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment gazetted the White Paper on Conservation and Sustainable Use of South Africa’s Biodiversity on 14 June 2023 (GN3537 GG 48785 p3 14June2023).


The gazetted White Paper provides the following information:

“This White paper seeks to provide a policy framework on issues relating to:

1) The conservation of biodiversity;

2) The sustainable use of biodiversity;

3) Access to biological or genetic resources and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from their utilisation; and

4) The transformation of the country to ensure redress to previously disadvantaged individuals, equality, and equitable inclusion within the biodiversity-based economy.

Improvements in these four areas are identified as the four goals of this White Paper.”


The draft version of the White Paper was originally published on 8 July 2022 (GN2252 GG 46687 p3 8Jul2022) and the comment period was extended on 14 September 2022 (GN2481 GG 46908 p3 14Sept2022) to 26 September 2022. A Revised Draft White Paper was subsequently published by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment on 28 October 2022 (GN2689 GG 47378 p3 28Oct2022) for comments.


The objective behind the White Paper was elucidated in the following excerpt extracted from the media statement titled "Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment publishes Strategic Biodiversity Draft White Paper for public participation, " which was released by the Department on July 11, 2022:


"Through the White Paper, South Africa will adopt an enabling definition and understanding of biodiversity conservation that releases South Africa from the shackles of the past, and which emphasises the constitutional imperatives within the environmental right, but also which will improve the wellbeing of people consistent with Ubuntu.

Furthermore, the White Paper will reshape ecologically sustainable use of components of biodiversity, in a manner which forefronts the responsibilities incumbent on use, including ensuring species persistence and the ecological integrity of ecosystems. Social responsibilities are also emphasised, by ensuring that continued benefits to people are fair, equitable and meet the needs and aspirations of present and future generations. Furthermore, in the case of animals, use must be humane and not compromise their well-being.


In addition, the White Paper proposes to adopt a philosophical framing of Ubuntu for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, emphasizing an African approach that is consistent with the traditions, culture, knowledge and aspirations of African people in terms of defining their wellbeing. "


Listed below are a few comments on the White Paper:

  • African Wildlife Economy Institute, Stellenbosch University. AWEI Comments on the DFFE Draft White Paper on Biodiversity. 2022 Sept AWEI

  • Bryant, Dave. Call for clarity on draft white paper on biodiversity. – 2022 Sept 9 PoliticsWeb

  • Pinnock, Don. SA in ground-breaking rethink on protection of biodiversity. – 2022 Jul 8 Daily Maverick

  • Southern Africa Tourism Services Association. SATSA’S animal interaction philosophy espoused in DFFE White Paper on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of South Africa’s Biodiversity.2022 SATSA


Image: Wix

Date posted: 15 August 2022

Updated: 16 June 2023



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