In recent times, more people across the world are realizing and appreciating the value of their natural environment. Matters to do with conservation and responsible use of the environment are being taken more seriously by people at the community level, by governments and by the international community as a whole. It has led to increased creation of public policies and laws geared towards safeguarding the world against environmental degradation. Environmental laws exist to regulate how we as human beings interact with the environment. Although it is often categorized as part of the ordinary local law, it also consists of statutes and treaties reached by the international community and ratified by governments across the world.
As a means to enforce environmental laws more effectively, many countries create Environmental Management Authorities to regulate and manage environmental policies. These bodies are at the forefront of creating environmental laws and advising governments on proper management of the environment. It is through these bodies that Environmental Impact Assessments are carried out and permits to conduct certain types of business issued. Examples of activities that require approval from Environment Management Agencies include Discharge of affluence, Waste disposal and transportation, transportation of controlled substances, construction, mining minerals, sand harvesting and many other activities.
In the private sector and business world, in general, there is an increased need for corporations to hire lawyers that have technical know-how in the field of environmental law. With governments adopting regulations on global warming, nearly all sectors of the economy are being affected. Corporations today require extensive advice on existing environmental laws and the implications of their businesses on the environment. Companies that are major industry players require lawyers that can lobby governments on their behalf to see fair laws passed by policy makers. These lawyers also educate staff on environmental laws and ensure that their client companies’ practices are in compliance with environmental laws. Also, there are also several private law firms that assist clients in ensuring their businesses comply with environmental law.
Frans Schoeman is an extraordinary example of a lawyer with outstanding skills, experience and expertise in the field of environmental law. Schoeman is the Managing Director and Director of Phatisma Diamond, one of the leading law firms in Bellville, South Africa. He is a senior specializing attorney with over 21 years experience in law. Schoeman is associated with several commercial clients and has a strong client base both nationally and internationally. He also performs legal work at Joubert Schoeman Attorneys, a partnership between himself and Helene Joubert.
Increased practice of environmental law has led to its improved status from a niche into a prestigious academic field. It is especially so since Environmental Law as discipline cuts across numerous other academic fields. Several institutions of higher learning today offer specialized courses on environmental law. Many lawyers continue to register for learning programmes in environmental law to familiarize and equip themselves with knowledge concerning environmental law. Special events such as symposia and conferences are carried out in which many lawyers can engage in environmental law learning.