Western Cape Branch

Western Cape Branch Chair: Mari de Villiers

Mari holds a Masters’ Degree in Environmental Management, and has more than 12 years’ experience as an environmental assessment practitioner. She has completed numerous environmental impact assessment processes for projects ranging from housing developments to large mining projects, in seven of South Africa’s nine provinces. She has undertaken several courses to further her career in climate change and greenhouse gas quantification. Mari is passionate about environmental management and climate change, especially about integrating climate change mitigation and adaptation considerations into environmental assessment processes. She is the Director of Integro Carbon Consulting, a Stellenbosch-based company with a vision to facilitate informed climate change impact decision making as part of environmental assessment and planning processes. She is also a Principal Environmental Assessment Practitioner at Cornerstone Environmental Consulting.

Email: mari@cornerstoneenviro.co.za

Western Cape Law & Policy and Incoming Chair (from 2018-2019) 

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

Email: melissa@greencounsel.co.za

Western Cape Secretary: Kim Pontac

Kim holds a Master of Philosophy degree in Environmental Law from the University of Cape Town, a Bachelor of Technology degree in Environmental Management and a National Diploma in Oceanography, both from the Cape Peninsular University of Technology. She has over 8 years relevant experience within the environmental management industry as an environmental assessment practitioner, where she gained varied project experience in various sectors such as the transport, utilities, social infrastructure and minerals, metals and chemicals, hydrocarbons and nuclear industries across southern Africa and abroad.

Kim is the founder and Director of Legacy Environmental Management Consulting which specialises in Environmental Impact Assessments, including but not limited to Legal Compliance and Due Diligence, Waste Management, Strategic Environmental Assessment, Environmental and Social Impact Assessment, permitting and/ or licencing, facilitation and training, and environmental construction monitoring. She believes that effective environmental management reflects responsible business practice, the realisation of growing socio-economic expectations without compromising the environment for future generations, as the environment is our common Legacy!

Email: kim@legacyemc.co.za

Western Cape Branch: Treasurer: Anel Dannhauser 

Anèl holds a Honours Degree in Environmental Management and Analysis, and has 9 years’ experience as an environmental assessment practitioner.  Her interests lie in water related and sustainability projects.  She is passionate about practically integrating environmental solutions to improve environmental quality.  Anèl works as an Environmental Assessment Practitioner for JG Afrika, based in Pinelands, Cape Town. 

Email: DannhauserA@jgafrika.com

Western Cape Branch: Secretary: Karin Neethling 

Karin holds a BSc in Conservation Ecology from the University of Stellenbosch and an MPhil in Environmental Management (awarded with distinction) and an LLM in Environmental Law from the University of Cape Town.

Karin has eight years’ experience as an Environmental Practitioner and is currently employed at Withers Environmental Consultants, based in Stellenbosch. Karin’s key work experience includes project management of environmental projects, environmental impact assessments, due diligence assessments, compliance audits and water use licence applications. 

Email: karin@withersenviro.co.za

Western Cape Branch: Communications: Grete Simanauskaite 

Originally from Lithuania, Grete has been working as a quality and environmental specialist for a renewable energy company Abengoa for the past two years and has experience in the implementation of quality and environmental management systems (ISO 14001 and 9001), management of environmental compliance and environmental performance in solar projects as well as sustainability reporting and carbon footprint assessments. 
Grete has obtained her BSc with Honours in Ecology from the University of Edinburgh and MSc. in Climate Change and Sustainable Development from the University of Cape Town. Prior to her Masters studies, she has worked as a research assistant to the UK marine spatial planning project as well as interned for a sustainability consultancy in Cape Town. Grete has a particular interest in environmental challenges that surround renewable energy developments as well as in the incorporation of climate change impacts and assessments into existing environmental management regime. 

Email: grete.simanauskaite@abengoa.com

Western Cape Branch: Communications: 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).

Email: nritsch@gibb.co.za

Western Cape Branch Professional Development: Robin Swanepoel

Robin has more than fifteen years of hands-on specialist experience in the environmental /conservation related fields and one year in the security industry. Through the former period he has been employed in both the Government and Private sectors managing areas of conservation worthy status. During this period he has managed (as a Managing Member) an Environmental Technical Services company providing specialist input/services to local and national Governmental organisations and in the capacity of Principal Environmental Manager, oversaw some of the largest construction activities in southern Africa. Currently, he is employed by AECOM as Chief Scientist: EMP and ECO, where his focus has shifted to oversee the project inception and planning phase of large scale infrastructural developments.

Email: robin.swanepoel@aecom.com

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. 

Email: luke.moore@iclei.org