Biodiversity agreements to be implemented by private rhino, lion owners in Limpopo

Sunday, November 12, 2023

The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE), together with the Sustainable Finance Coalition, has developed Biodiversity Management Agreements (BMAs) to be implemented by three private rhino and lion owners in Limpopo.

The agreements were developed in consultation with the Wilderness Foundation Africa (WFA).

The BMAs, which are valid for a period of five years, are linked to the implementation of the Biodiversity Management Plans (BMPs) for the iconic species.

“These are the first BMAs to be developed and implemented in South Africa. These agreements offer unique biodiversity tax incentives for the landowners in terms of the Income Tax Act (ITA, Act 58 of 1962),” the DFFE said in a statement.

BMAs allow for a person, organisation or organ of State to manage a species or ecosystem through an approved BMP or to implement a part of that BMP, in accordance with National Environmental Management Biodiversity Agreement (NEMBA, Act No. 10 of 2004) and associated regulations.

The DFFE said the catalytic nature of the BMAs and their corresponding tax incentives are examples of South Africa’s innovative and effective conservation, as well as sustainable finance efforts.

In terms of the BMAs, the landowners undertake to carry out certain measures that contribute to the efforts of achieving the objectives for the conservation and management of wild lions and rhino, and undertake to comply with all legal obligations relating to the management of lions and rhino, as appropriate.

The landowners, who concluded the BMAs for the Southern Black Rhino and the African Lion, manage the species in open system protected areas in Limpopo.

The landowners are required to carry out numerous conservation-related measures and be responsible for any costs related to the management of the animals. These costs may be deducted through the associated tax incentive once all tax requirements are met.

The application of this conservation tax deduction is achieved through the Coalition’s Finance Solution Approach, which supports the Global Biodiversity Framework goals and sustainable finance needs.

The owners of the animals will also submit annual reports on progress on the implementation of the BMAs to the Minister.

The BMPs for both the black and white rhino and the African lion are presently being reviewed, which means the BMAs will be modified and updated once these are finalised to ensure alignment.

The implementing agent for the Rhino BMPs is the Rhino Management Group and for the Lion BMP, it is the National Lion Working Group. –