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Published on : Thursday, June 11, 2015
Mossel Bay Tourism today hailed UNESCO’s decision to recognise both the Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve and the Magaliesberg Biosphere following their nomination for biosphere reserve status by the Government of South Africa.
The decision was made during the 27th annual session of the International Coordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere Programme, which is under way at UNESCO’s headquarters in France this week (8 – 12 June, 2015). The Council comprises 34 UNESCO member states.
South Africa now has eight recognised biosphere reserves: Kogelberg (proclaimed in 1998), Cape West Coast Extension (2003), Waterberg (2001), Kruger to Canyons (2001), Cape Winelands (2007), Vhembe (2009). It is hoped that the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve will be declared in the near future, too.
Willem Botha, chairperson of the Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve (GCBR), said that biosphere reserves exist to promote sustainable development through combining local community efforts with sound science.
“The Gouritz Cluster includes the coastal region from the Breede River to the Great Brak River, and inland from Montagu in the west to Prince Albert in the north and Uniondale in the east,” he said.
“This is an area of great cultural and biological diversity, and it’s becoming more and more important as a tourism destination – so it fits perfectly with the Man and the Biosphere Programme.
“Our aim as the GCBR is to ensure the sustainable utilisation of the unique biodiversity of the area through creating partnerships and encouraging responsible decision-making. It’s important to include the socio-economic component to the benefit of all the people living within the biosphere reserve.”
Mr. Botha said that South Africa’s biosphere reserves have memorandums of understanding in place with national and provincial governments, and added that the board of the GCBR aims to enter into similar agreements with local municipalities in the region – which is why it recently made a presentation to MINMAYTECH (the forum of municipal managers in the Western Cape Province).