For immediate release: Legal Action to be instituted against those responsible…
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (Ezemvelo), an authority responsible for the management of the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site, has distanced itself from the recently erected via ferrata route across the face of Beacon Buttress within the Royal Natal Management Unit of the Ukhahlamba Drankensberg Park World Heritage Site.
Ezemvelo has further informed those responsible for this erection of the via ferrate route that legal action will be instituted against them as their action is in contravention of a number of acts and regulations that govern the management of a World Heritage Site.
The National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act (NEMPA) 57 of 2003 Section 5 (read in conjunction with NEMPA Amendment Act 31 of 2004) states that “No development, construction or farming may be permitted in a national park, nature reserve or world heritage site without the prior written approval of the management authority”.
The change of any land use of any undetermined (natural) land for recreational purposes, as contemplated in the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations of the Environmental Conservation Act 73 of 1989 under section 2(c) is considered a Listed Activity and therefore requires sufficient scoping and authorisation to be issued. Section 1(f) of the same Regulations also prohibits the construction of cableways for tourist access to scenic landscapes without the necessary scoping.
The erection of the route is also in clear contravention of the Nature Conservation Ordinance 15 of 1974 Chapter 2 part 1 Section 15(d) which prohibits the damage of any geological material within a nature reserve.
Dr Bandile Mkhize, Ezemvelo CEO expressed his shock when he heard of this route. “It is unheard of that an individual would go to a World Heritage Site and interfere with its landscape without first obtaining necessary authorisation from the authority responsible for its management. Such action undermines all the applicable laws and cannot go unchallenged.”
Ezemvelo is also aware of the uneasiness that the erection of this route has caused amongst different communities and mountain climbing organisations. It clearly breaches the joint Fixed Protection policy of the Mountain Club of South Africa (MCSA) and Ezemvelo to which the individuals responsible for the route subscribe.
“We would like to allay fears of all such organisations and categorically state that a via ferrata route is not in line with our future plans for this area. The area is not a proclaimed wilderness area though it is our aim to manage it towards wilderness.” Dr Mkhize stated.
W/P Media Release No. 29 Ezemvelo distances itself from the recently erected via ferrata route.