Environmental Law: Natural And Unnatural Environment

2276 words - 9 pages


The environment consists of ‘all, or any, of the following media, namely, the air, water and land’ as defined by the Environmental Protection Act of 1990, Section 1, of The United Kingdom (Kidd, 1997). The environment can thus be divided into three main components namely terrestrial, aquatic and atmospheric.

The environment can be further divided in to two classes, natural and unnatural environment. The natural environment refers to and includes all living organisms and nonliving things which occur naturally in the environment; as well as the interaction between these three components and which the earth sustains. The health of all three these components play a vital role in sustaining the earth’s organisms. The unnatural or built environment refers to an environment created by the hand and mind of man, one which is not of the natural environment.

When each word is considered individually, Environmental Law refers to the legal services that are provided for environmental matters. In more detail the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) defines Environmental law as “a body of law, which is a system of complex and interlocking statutes, common law, treaties, conventions, regulations and policies which seek to protect the natural environment which may be affected, impacted or endangered by human activities”.

To briefly discuss, there are numerous different sources of environmental law, these include International law; Common law; The Constitution; Statute law; Custom; and African customary law (Glazewski, 2003).

International law pertains to international conventions and international customary laws and is regarded as a distinct branch of international law. Common law pertains to the modern law of nuisance and neighbour law which is based on the sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas principle. The Constitution offers a framework for environmental law administration and it also hosts a number of environmental clauses and an environmental right. The majority of environmental law is hosted as general (i.e. National Environmental Management Act) or specific resource (i.e. National Heritage Resources Act 25 of 1999) regulations and statutes. Custom law can only become binding after court confirmation and it is less significant than other law sources regarding their importance even though it is a formal law source. African customary law pertains to unrecorded customary law implemented by African communities with regards to for example Family law (Glazewski, 2003).
The need for environmental laws is directly related to why the natural environment needs to be managed. The common denominator here is humans and their activities. Increased populations have led to an increase in the need for resources to sustain human life. This led to a significant increase in the utilization and extraction of wildlife, vegetation and water for consumption as well as soil for constructional...

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