Western Cape Branch

Western Cape Branch Chair: Melissa Groenink

Melissa is an environmental attorney with an educational background in both environmental science (BSc) and law (LLB), and over five years’ experience in the environmental law field. Melissa practices as a Senior Associate at Cullinan & Associates, an environmental and green business law firm who represents and assists a diverse range of clients, and is a consultant at EnAct International, an environmental governance consultancy. In addition to her IAIAsa membership, Melissa is a member of the Cape Law Society and the Environmental Law Association of South Africa.

Melissa has extensive experience in environmental, clean energy and planning law, and it is one of her professional priorities to stay ahead of the changes to environmental laws, to understand their practical impacts, and to communicate these changes in the simplest and most practical manner possible. Melissa was a co-author for the South African environmental chapter of the 2011, 2012 and 2013 editions of Getting the Deal Through, and has presented at a number of conferences and seminars over the years.

Western Cape Branch Secretary, Communications & Marketing: Nicholas Arnott

Nicholas is currently employed by SLR Consulting and holds a B.SC Honours Degree in Earth and Geographical Sciences from the University of Cape Town. He has over 12 years’ experience working as environmental consultant. During this time he has been involved in a variety of projects within the mining, oil & gas, renewable energy and infrastructure sectors. In addition to being involved in a number of projects located throughout South Africa (both onshore and offshore), he has worked on projects located in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Currently, Nicholas is involved in Environmental and Social Impact Assessments, Environmental Management Plans / Programmes, Basic Assessments, Maintenance Management Plans, Environmental Auditing & Monitoring, Section 24(G) Rectification Applications, as well as associated public participation processes.

Western Cape Branch: Treasurer: Bronwen Griffiths

Bronwen has operated across a range of sectors within the environmental field, dominantly permitting and related processes, functioning as a project manager, and provision of ecological specialist knowledge. She is a trained ecologist and a registered Professional Natural Scientist: Environmental Science.

Bronwen is a senior environmental specialist, currently she is freelancing. Until May 2019, she was with multi-national engineering consultancies for 7.5 years, namely, Royal HaskoningDHV as a senior environmental specialist and the regional manager for the environmental team (Western & Eastern Cape), and AECOM as a chief environmental scientist. Before that for over a decade she ran her own small-scale environmental consultancy with highlights of Environmental Manager for City of Joburg (CoJ), and a few months as Acting Assistant Director at Gauteng Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (GDARD). Her career began at GDARD as an environmental officer

Bronwen has dealt with a range of environmental projects: from feasibility, EIAs, environmental management post-authorisation, and, cross-linked to all aspects of spatial planning. She functions as environmental assessment practitioner and project manager. Bronwen has authored / co-authored various guideline documents (DEA, GDARD, CoJ, KZN DoT).

Bronwen’s association with IAIAsa is long standing – a member since 1998/99, a past chair of the Gauteng branch, with a number of years on the National Executive Committee.

Western Cape Branch: Communications & Marketing: Monique Sham 

Monique holds a BA Degree in Geography & Environmental Science from Monash University and a BSc (Hons) degree in Geography and Environmental Studies from Wits University. Monique has over 15 years’ experience in the environmental management field and her working career started during 2003 in Johannesburg, Gauteng, when she was employed by Holgate & Associates Environmental Consultants. In 2007 Monique joined SRK Consulting Cape Town and since 2008 Monique has worked independently and in association with a number of environmental consultants. Monique’s involvement in projects includes managing environmental aspects associated with all phases from planning to rehabilitation, with an emphasis on NEMA EIA Regulations and EMPr implementation and compliance. Her knowledge of the Environmental Legal Framework and its implementation allows her to ensure compliance and streamline processes. Monique has also been involved in the preparation of rehabilitation plans and monitoring rehabilitation work on sites. 

Monique is certified with the Southern African Institute of Ecologists and Environmental Scientists (SAIE&ES) and has been an IAIAsa member since 2005. She has presented papers on the value of public participation in the EIA process at the IAIA conference in Stavanger, Norway, as well as the IAIAsa conference in Pilansberg, in 2006.

Western Cape Branch: Authority Liaison: Anel Dannhauser 

Anèl holds an Honours Degree in Environmental Management and Analysis, and has 11 years’ experience as an environmental assessment practitioner.  She is the director of Onyxia Environmental Management and works independently as well as with other environmental consultants.  Her experience lies in Environmental Impact Assessments, Basic Assessments, Environmental Management Programmes, Water Use Authorisation Applications, Mining Applications and Environmental Control Officer services.  Anèl’s interests lie in conservation, water related and sustainability projects.  She is passionate about practically integrating environmental solutions to improve environmental quality. 

Western Cape Branch: Authority Liaison: Natalie Ritsch 

Natalie Ritsch is a Senior Environmental Scientist with 15 years of experience in the environmental science field.  Natalie has had experience in the government, parastatal and private sectors in her career to date, which involved the supervision of junior staff, reviewing of documentation and compilation of various reports from small-scale BA’s to large-scale EIA’s. Her key experience includes oversight and support to staff, project leadership and quality assurance on all projects. She has experience in a number of environmental fields, which include Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs), Basic Assessments (BAs), Waste licencing, Environmental Management Plans (EMPs), as well as Environmental auditing – specifically management of environmental control officer services. Natalie is currently registered as a Professional Natural Scientist with the South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions (Reg. No. 400130/05), and is a member of the International Association for Impact Assessment – South African affiliate (IAIAsa).

Western Cape Branch Professional Development: Robin Swanepoel

Robin Swanepoel is RINA’s Sub-Sahara Africa HSE Specialist and holds BTech Degrees in Nature Conservation and Environmental Management.  He is currently studying towards his MTech Environmental Management. 

He is an internationally experienced environmental specialist of over 22 years in the environmental, social, governance, risk management and biodiversity conservation fields. Skilled in strategic development, programme and project management he has gained wide-ranging experience associated with various contractual arrangements (e.g. EPC and EPCM) and concomitant tender design, co-ordination, management, review and subsequent tender submission moderation; agreement types (e.g. NEC, FIDIC and COLTO); funding models and associated Performance Standards (e.g. IFC and Equator Principles); and EHS Guidelines (ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001, ISO 50001, etc.).

Robin consequently takes an active interest in post-EIA follow-up work and is actively involved working towards the professionalising of such environmental practitioners.

Western Cape Branch Young Professionals : Luke Moore

Luke is passionate about a range of environmental issues, with a particular interest in understanding how societies relate to and derive meaning from their environment in a changing world. He has several years private sector experience, having specialised in coastal zone management, strategic environmental planning and applied GIS. He recently joined ICLEI Africa as a technical specialist, and is looking forward to expanding his experience into the NGO sector.

Western Cape Student Branch Chair: Claudia Schroder 

Claudia Schröder studied and obtained a degree in Social Dynamics as well as a post-graduate in Environmental Management at Stellenbosch University. She is currently completing her Masters in Environment, Society and Sustainability at the University of Cape Town while working as a research and communications officer at a sustainability organisation. Her current obsessions includes understanding the complex dynamics between humans and nature in the face of climate change particularly in urban areas. 

Western Cape Student Support : Fahad Aziz

Fahad Aziz studied and obtained a BSc (Hons) in Environmental and Geographical Sciences at the University of Cape Town (UCT). He is currently completing his Masters in Environmental and Geographical Sciences at UCT with a focus on urban rivers, using high resolution instruments to monitor flow and water quality.