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“I hope I made people braver to fight for the environment,” says Jane Eagle, who is riding out into the sunset after 33 years in the City of Johannesburg.

Eagle has left her mark across environmental and town planning spaces in the City, no wonder she became known as the City’s environmental stalwart.

“I like to change the world, that’s why I joined government. It gives you creativity, latitude, and most importantly, the freedom to apply intelligence and problem-solving abilities.”

In a couple of hours, Eagle will cease to be the Deputy Director of the Open Space Planning, Environmental, and Infrastructure Services. She describes her three decades as fascinating and fulfilling.

“I’ve learned a lot, I’ve been privileged to work with amazing people, and I’ve never been bored in this job,” says Eagle.

She was responsible for business planning, management, and oversight of projects, as well as planning and regulation of the City’s open spaces, green infrastructure, and the associated ecological goods and services.

Eagle became the go-to person for groundwater-related issues. Projects she’s managed include the rehabilitation of Bruma Lake and the Bruma Lake Park Public Space upgrade, the rehabilitation of dams within the Braamfonteinspruit catchment, a regional parks strategy, and the development of a storm water design manual for the City.

She joined Sandton Town Council in 1990 as a town planner. Between 1992 and 1996, she held a couple of positions in the City Planning Department and was involved in inner-city revitalisation. She played an active role in the urban renewal strategy. In her Executive Officer: Environmental Management role at the Northern Metropolitan Local Council, she worked extensively on environmental quality management, integrated environmental management, natural resource management, and environmental capacity building, and was later promoted to Acting Strategic Executive: Planning and Urbanisation.

It was in her role as Assistant Director: Environmental Quality Management (Environmental Monitoring and Compliance) that she worked extensively on strategies to improve air quality. Between 2007 and 2009, in her role as Assistant Director: Catchment Management and Wetlands, she managed the City’s water resources, including wetlands, floodplains, and urban drainage issues.

Some of the most meaningful memories over the years are seeing her projects take root in rivers, catchments and wetlands. The Nelson Mandela Bridge was realised through the inner-city Urban Design Framework. Today, she still smiles when driving over it.

Eagle says during her three decades of service to residents and ratepayers of Johannesburg, she has never been approached with a bribe.

Standing up for the environment is a cause close to her heart. “I’ve always done my part to save the planet. I have saved a few wetlands in my time. Today we have a wetlands map.”

“It’s hard to stand up for the environment. Though people pay lip service to it, at the end of the day, roads, houses and the economy are always seen as more important. I don’t think people understand how devastating climate change is and how much the environment can save us.

“Trees will help clean the air, stop flooding, and keep temperatures down. It’s not buildings and air conditioners. Nature is doing its best to get people to value nature and see that it is where the solutions lie. That has been my mission.”

Eagle, an avid bird watcher and piano player, says she’ll miss her colleagues dearly. She plans to spend more time with her dogs, enjoy her hobbies but will not turn down opportunities to consult.

“I think I’ve landed in the perfect career. I don’t regret anything.”


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