Cape Town - South Africa is home to two brand new biosphere reserves after both Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve and the Magaliesberg Biosphere Reserve were recognised by Unesco this week.
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. 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.
In a press release sent out by Mossel Bay Tourism, 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.
“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.”
Paul Fatti, chair of the Magaliesberg Biosphere Initiative Group (MBIG) that has been lobbying authorities since 2007 to support the establishment of the biosphere also expressed his delight.
“We are delighted with this final acknowledgement of the unique nature of the Magaliesberg and the powerful contribution it is making to our country, to the ecosystem services in Gauteng and the North West and the communities it nurtures over an extensive area,” he said.
Apart from the six South African reserves, Gouritz Cluster and Magaliesberg Biosphere Reserves join the ranks of 631 biosphere reserves in 119 different countries.
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