A number of D’MOSS implementation tools have been identified and some of these are used during the assessment process in order to achieve more sustainable development. The most commonly used tool is the non-user conservation servitude (NUCS).
Non-user Conservation Servitudes (NUCS)
It is not uncommon for the outcome of a development assessment process to require the registration of a conservation servitude over that portion of the application property that has been included in D’MOSS or which contains conservation worthy biodiversity, or is providing valuable ecosystem goods and services. This is particularly applied during formal Impact Assessments undertaken in terms of the Environmental Impact Assessment regulations, multi-unit developments and sub-divisional applications. However, depending on circumstances may also be applied when building plans are submitted for review. In short, the developer is required to register, in favour of the municipality, a conservation servitude over land which requires protection from development in perpetuity in order to secure D’MOSS or other conservation worthy sites. In certain cases an environmental management plan is prepared for the ongoing management of the servitude. The servitude remains in the ownership of the private land owner and can be used for recreational opportunities which do not impact on the primary conservation purpose. It is normally managed by a body corporate, home or lot owners’ association or their appointed service provider. Rates relief is available to the owner(s) in that the conservation servitude area is rated at a nominal value.
The imposition of conservation servitudes as a condition of approval is a cost effective and relatively easily achieved means of securing the open space system. Conservation servitudes like any other servitude are registered against the Title Deed of the property and are shown in the Surveyor General Diagrams.
The standard conservation servitude conditions include the following:
No earthworks or any form of development is permitted within the area
No landscaping or planting except for rehabilitation in terms of an approved management plan
No collection or damaging of fauna, flora, soil and water resources
No vehicles of any type are permitted
No pets or domestic animals permitted
In extreme circumstances, and only when there are significant strategic and economic benefits that will result from environmental impacts, ecological compensation tools will be applied. This can take the form of off-site habitat creation (the principle of 10 for 1 is applied, i.e. for every unit that is destroyed, 10 times that in habitat is created), or financial compensation. In the latter case a fund has been set up into which monies are paid by the developer and used by the municipality to either manage or acquire conservation worthy land not already secured or managed. However, it should be emphasised that in most cases, ecological impacts are avoided in order to negate the need for compensation.