Original Research

Evaluating Environmental Impact Assessment report quality in South African national parks

Luke A. Sandham, Carla Huysamen, Francois P. Retief, Angus Morrison-Saunders, Alan J. Bond, Jenny Pope, Reece C. Alberts
Koedoe | Vol 62, No 1 | a1631 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v62i1.1631 | © 2020 Luke A. Sandham, Carla Huysamen, Francois P. Retief, Angus Morrison-Saunders, Alan J. Bond, Jenny Pope, Reece C. Alberts | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 March 2020 | Published: 16 September 2020

About the author(s)

Luke A. Sandham, School of Geo and Spatial Sciences, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Carla Huysamen, School of Geo and Spatial Sciences, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Francois P. Retief, Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Angus Morrison-Saunders, Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa; and, Centre for Ecosystem Management, School of Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia
Alan J. Bond, Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa; and, School of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom
Jenny Pope, Unit for Environmental Science and Management, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa; and, Integral Sustainability, Perth, Australia
Reece C. Alberts, Unit for Environmental Science and Management, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


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Abstract

This research evaluates Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report quality for a selected sample of development projects in South African national parks. It applies an adapted version of an international EIA report quality review package to 24 developments within 10 national parks, across three EIA regimes. The results suggest good EIA report quality across all four quality review areas, with improvement over time, but also highlight particular weaknesses in terms of dealing with waste and, to a lesser extent, with significance and mitigation. To build on this research, the development of a sector-specific EIA report quality review package is recommended, with more emphasis on the strategic context, waste and water-related aspects. The conclusion is that EIA is well positioned to remain an important decision support instrument for developments within national parks.

Conservation implications: The results show that EIA reports for developments in South African national parks are generally of sufficient quality for decision-making that benefits conservation. However, weaker performance regarding waste, significance determination, water-related impacts and a lack of consideration of strategic context requires a conservation-specific EIA report quality review package to improve report quality in the areas of weakness and thereby increase the value of EIA as an instrument for environmental governance and sustainable development in conservation areas.


Keywords

Environmental Impact Assessment; report quality; protected areas; national parks; South Africa.

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