South Africa Gets Its First Biodiversity Tax Incentive
BirdLife South Africa’s Fiscal Benefits Project was launched in 2015 with the aim of testing biodiversity tax incentives as a benefit for landowners declaring Protected Areas, through the Biodiversity Stewardship model. The Fiscal Benefits Project began with the achievement of introducing a new tax incentive, section 37D, into the Income Tax Act. Section 37D gives landowners a tax deduction for their conservation commitment. It allows the value of a Nature Reserve or National Park to be deducted from taxable income, reducing the tax owed by a landowner. Section 37D provides a fiscal benefit for the long term protection and effective management of areas vital to conservation and ecosystem functioning. This was achieved on behalf of a landowner for the very first time in South Africa at the end of 2016.
This tax incentive is a national first and creates the first fiscal reward for biodiversity conservation in South Africa. This historic appropriation belongs to one of the Fiscal Benefits Project’s pilot sites, where testing of the incentive has taken place. This achievement now paves the way for other privately-owned Protected Areas to receive financial recognition. The Fiscal Benefits Project is now in the process of mainstreaming the effectiveness of section37D and is working towards introducing tax skills into the conservation sector. Part of this process is the provision of high-level summaries and technical tax overviews.
South Africa’s biodiversity tax incentives and work on Privately Protected Areas is highly innovative and has received international recognition. It is the collaborative effort of the National Treasury, the South African Revenue Service, the Department of Environmental Affairs and the Biodiversity Stewardship community of practice in both the public and private sectors. BirdLife South Africa’s Fiscal Benefits Project is a novel approach to biodiversity finance and leads the way in the use of biodiversity tax incentives. The Project is funded by the Global Environment Fund in partnership with SANBI with catalytic seed funding received from the WWF Nedbank Green Trust.
Manager: Fiscal Benefits Project Manager & Tax Specialist
BirdLife South Africa
Tel: +27 11 789 1122