Environmental Impact assessment:
The majority of ERS work involves basic environmental assessment under the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) regulations. ERS has completed over 50 scoping and basic assessment studies in the greater Eastern Cape area and Southern KZN region. A comprehensive list of projects is provided at the end of this section, with some details as follows:
Rural access roads
ERS has completed more than 20 basic assessments for rural access roads in the Eastern Cape, mainly servicing communities in challenging mountainous terrain where river crossings and careful erosion control are required. The work has involved assessment of alternative routes and designs, as well as liaison with DWAF, DLA and other stakeholders.
Vodacom cellphone mast locations
ERS has done the basic assessments and scoping for over 15 rural masts, including negotiating with rural communities to find environmentally suitable sites for these towers for Brolaz Projects, on behalf of Vodacom SA. Issues such as access roads, mitigating radiation, public consultation and land use permission were successfully addressed.
Rural water supply
Basic assessments for rural regional supply systems involve assessment of source development such as boreholes, springs, rivers and dams.
DWAF Masimbambane review
ERS was part of a team including CSIR, Maluti Water and other professionals s appointed by DWAF to review their Masibambane water programme in 2007/8 and again in 2009.
Erosion prevention and control
The company has experience with small scale erosion control work, especially gravel road drainage and rehabilitation. Where required, work is done in conjunction with appropriately experienced engineers. Labour based approaches are preferred, as they create employment and have lower physical impact on the surroundings than a mechanized approach. Support structures such as gabions are integrated where required.
Tourism Product development & Project management:
Mehloding horse & hiking trail eco-tourism project
ERS was instrumental in the conceptualization, establishment and the overall project management of the Mehloding hiking trail from concept to operation. It was then handed over to a registered community owned trust which had been established. This project was funded by amongst others by DEAT Social Responsibility and Alfred Nzo District Municipality. The product currently supports 16 permanent local staff members and employs part-time guides, caterers, porters and fresh produce suppliers. See www.mehloding.co.za for more details and for booking enquires.
Ongeluksnek nature reserve – Gateway development
The reserve is managed by Eastern Cape Parks Board, and since its proclamation in 1976 has had no tourism facilities. It is located on the Eastern Cape / Lesotho border some 50km west of Matatiele, and has great potential as a transfrontier conservation area. ERS was appointed via the Alfred Nzo District Municipality, with funds from DEAT Social Responsibility fund and DEDEA Eastern Cape, to develop appropriate tourism facilities for the reserve, in conjunction with EC Parks. This has included the renovation of a disused homestead to establish an entrance facility, with a simple arrival/reception gateway and self-catering stone lodge which can sleep 12 people. Arrangements with a local horse owners association, guides and caterers have been made to provide services to the reserve and to visitors, as a means of generating income and reducing the burden of these tasks on the EC Parks staff, so that they can focus in conservation priorities. A bush camp and trails are also being developed in the northern wilderness area of the reserve. Extensive road rehabilitation and erosion work has also been completed.
Agricultural development facilitation
ERS staff have competency to carry out soil and landscape analysis to assess suitability for different kinds of uses. Soil and terrain analysis for different agricultural activities, both crop and animal production has been done for individual farmers and groups. ERS works closely with the rural communities around Matatiele to assist them with production planning and accessing government funded projects.
Local government is embarking on a program for accelerated agricultural production in the Alfred Nzo District with components in irrigated high intensity cash crop production and dry land maize production. ERS has been assisting some of the local farmers who own and can operate agricultural machinery, and were previously employed on commercial farms, to access the government contracts. Technical advice is also offered to small farmers on the most profitable low input conservation with production farming methods. The farmers are also assisted to find resources such as training in savings so that they can engage in agricultural production without outside assistance.
ERS carried out an extensive impact assessment of the impact of installation and operation of an irrigation scheme using the Umzimvubu River as the source of water. Recommendations were made to the Department of Agriculture on the best way of managing the long term impacts on the river, surrounding landscapes, and the social impacts especially on the adjacent communities.
Spatial development planning
Several of the rural local municipalities, as part of spatial planning utilize the strategic environmental assessment approach to guide decisions on land development. ERS works closely with the municipal authorities and stakeholders to identification their key environmental needs, opportunities and constraints, carry out the necessary needs analysis, quantify the requirements and integrate the environmental opportunities with identified development needs. Municipal capacity is also built so that they can carry out the analysis proposed development interventions in terms of environmental sustainability in the municipality.