Welcome to the Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve

On the southern edge of Africa lies a place all humans can call “home” – the place where almost 200 000 years ago our earliest modern ancestors began their journey across Africa and the world. This place is located in the heart of the Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve (GCBR).

Registered as a non-profit company, the Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve organisation is a citizens’ initiative dedicated to the conservation of our region’s biodiversity, tied to socioeconomic development for the wellbeing of its peoples. UNESCO has recently designated the region as a place of major biodiversity significance for the planet.

Our Inspiration

By 2020, the GCBR will be (inter-)nationally recognised and respected for its balanced and effective approach to ecological sustainability and human development.

The GCBR will be experienced as an inclusive, approachable and ‘desired collaborator’ for all population groups and institutions in the domain.

 Our Priority Practical Efforts

Practical work for the domain is already underway, focussing on three priority areas: 

  1. Flagship initiatives which (at scale):
  • Restore degraded landscapes while creating employment
  • Convert alien biomass into economically viable products
  1. A suite of smaller scale (peri-)urban and rural projects to catalyse ecologically sustainable livelihoods, for example:
  • Stimulate employment opportunities through development of tourism related to our scenic beauty and unique biodiversity
  • Promote enterprises that contribute to ecological gains
  1. Knowledge generation and communication about innovations and practices that have a positive impact on the domain’s ecology and all its populations. Examples may include:
  • Environmental education actions involving schools and the youth
  • Collaborate in (inter-)national research initiatives
  • Testing new models of financing restoration at scale on privately owned degraded land

Our Ways of Working

The GCBR’s organisational culture and ways of working will be characterised by a principle of enabling and informing others.

  • Partnerships and networks with champions across the domain: for example, local action and youth groups, innovative farmers and associations, non-governmental organisations, faiths such as church groups, etc.
  • Active mobilization, hosting and facilitating multiple stakeholders – business, government, communities, educational establishments – to work together for ecological sustainability
  • Influencing public opinion, perceptions and behaviours, with special attention to young people and tomorrow’s leaders.

 

The film, It’s Everybody’s Business, was initiated, written, produced and sponsored by Neil Curry, an international award-winning environmental film producer. Neil is also member of the GCBR.  The copyright of the 40-minute film belongs to Neil Curry but he has given the GCBR the right to use and distribute it in order to promote its objectives in the region, and to sell DVD copies to raise funds for its own purposes, without paying any royalties to him.   We wish to thank Neil for this generous gesture.   We also wish to thank the Table Mountain Fund (TMF), Hessequa Municipality and Assegaaybosch Ranch for funding the out-of-pocket expenses incurred by Neil while producing the film, as well as all those people who assisted with logistical arrangements and filming.

 
The vegetation of the Klein Karoo and the adjacent coastal plain area is unique. Approximately 4,500 species of plants that occur nowhere else on earth are found here, in three internationally recognised biodiversity hotspots – Fynbos, Succulent Karoo and Valley Thicket. This, along with the empty landscapes, the solitude and the silence, make this a very attractive area for tourists, especially those from the more crowded parts of the planet.  However, the Klein Karoo is also an area that is water stressed. Rainfall is naturally low but degradation within water catchments and along the rivers has exacerbated the situation.
 
Therefore in 2011 the Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve was established. It’s a community-based initiative that aims to protect and restore the natural environment of the Klein Karoo, while at the same time encouraging the continued healthy growth of the local economy. This film sets out to tell this story.  We encourage you to purchase a copy of this outstanding DVD and show it to your family, friends and associates. Order your copy now for only R100.00 from the GCBR Secretary at  mary.rolbaken@gmail.com

Article submitted by Dick Carr