What is the LAWS website?

The LAWS Website brings you current and reliable information on environmental law in South Africa.

Environmental law is a complex and nuanced field of law regulating everything on Land, in the Air, in Water and all living things (Species) – LAWS.

A big challenge in South Africa is that most people cannot access environmental laws easily, information on environmental law is often always in English and the shear number of laws is overwhelming!

This website aims to help you navigate environmental law in South Africa by providing introductory notes to environmental laws and policy coupled with the law or policy itself.

It is only when we understand the legal tools available to us that we start working together to realise our Constitutional Environmental Right.

Everyone has the right 

(a) to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being; and

(b) to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that –

(i) prevent pollution and ecological degradation;

(ii) promote conservation; and

(iii) secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development.

The legal definition of environment, from the National Environmental Management Act 107 of 1998 is:

The surroundings within which humans exist and that are made up of:

  • The land, water and atmosphere of the earth;
  • Micro-organisms, plant and animal life;
  • Any part or combination of (i) and (ii) and the interrelationships among and between them; and
  • The physical, chemical, aesthetic and cultural properties and conditions of the foregoing that influence human health and wellbeing.
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This website was made possible through generous funding from the  British High Commission, the Embassy of Finland and the Lewis Foundation