Expect a bit more sting from the military when it comes to policing its own environment because there is now a qualified Green Scorpion in the ranks.
This is the popular name given to those who have successfully qualified as environmental management inspectors in terms of regulations promulgated by the Department of Environmental Affairs.
The first SA National Defence Force (SANDF) member to gain this qualification is Lieutenant Colonel Marius Laubscher of the Regional Works Unit in Western Cape.
He earned his qualification studying by correspondence through Unisa and achieved three distinctions in four compulsory modules. These were the legal context for environmental compliance and enforcement; becoming an environmental management inspector and environmental management enforcement and prosecution – practical applications.
“The implication of Laubscher’s Green Scorpion rating for both the Department of Defence and the SANDF is that individuals can be prosecuted for actions in contravention of national environmental legislation,” said Captain (SAN) Adri Liebenberg, ASSO Military Integrated Environmental Management in the SANDF Logistics Division.
“This does not mean that in the process of fulfilling environmental management inspections compliance notices will be issued for non-compliance. Normal environmental audits will be undertaken as part of the inspector’s tasks and followed up by audit reports. This is where non-compliance issues will be highlighted. In the event of non-compliance, from officers commanding who have the responsibility to ensure compliance with environmental legislation, notices can and will be issued in terms of the National Environmental Management Act of 1998 Failure to comply can result in a fine of up to R5 million or 10 years in prison or both.”
She said one of the reasons Laubscher decided to go for the Green Scorpion certification was because “the nature of the DoD and SANDF’s activities are inherently destructive to the environment”.
“We as soldiers must ensure there is compliance with the relevant legislation. Additionally there should also be mitigation measures in place to minimise military impact.
“With large tracts of land, many of them in sensitive areas, it is even more imperative the SANDF properly manages the environment it uses,” Liebenberg said adding the “ultimate goal of the DoD and SANDF should be voluntary compliance without having to resort to the necessity of Green Scorpions to scrutinise military activities to meet legislated standards”.
Picture: Wildlife management is one aspect of the SANDF’s environmental obligations. SA Air Force personnel from AFB Hoedspruit assist a veterinary team chemically treating rhino horns to make them unusable for the Far Eastern market.