The Garden Route Biosphere Reserve has a rich diversity of natural habitats, with great natural beauty that underpins the tourism economy. But land use pressures are increasing through urbanisation, the spread of invasive alien species, and the over-extraction of resources, including water and line fish stocks. Areas of the most critically endangered biodiversity and attractive scenic landscapes are threatened by inappropriately sited residential developments.
At the same time there are enormous challenges to meet the needs of a growing population. Work undertaken in the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve partnership through the C.A.P.E. programme includes systematic fine scale biodiversity planning, consolidating protected areas in the critical lowlands and marine areas, promoting conservation stewardship among private landowners, and working towards promoting growth in the number of jobs, training and entrepreneurial opportunities through biodiversity management, sustainable natural resource use and responsible tourism.
OUR AREAS OF INTEREST
At Garden Route Biosphere Reserve, we have a multi-disciplinary team of qualified professionals and volunteers that ensure that our efforts to conserve the environment are sustainable and effective. Areas of interest are:
Academic research of biodiversity and sustainability. We are rapidly developing serious research projects with Mandela Uni, Rhodes Uni and others. Take a look at our Research Hub
The Garden Route Biosphere Reserve, still being in its formative stage has the following key activities and projects:
- The establishment of an organisation founded on Biosphere values, supported by a strong, hands-on board of directors, advisory team, members’ and broader community involvement.
- Support for the Eden to Addo corridor project is a major and key landscape focus.
- The creation of a long-term invasive to indigenous transformation programme is another major project, initiated by this Biosphere after the 2017 fires, supported by the other four Biosphere’s of the Western Cape Province.
- The establishment of an independent multi-university tertiary institute for marine, estuary, afro-montane and biome research is well underway with land already pledged for this purpose. This facility will include the emerging biomimicry discipline.
- WWF-SA’s TMF small project fund is already in action with 4 projects funded in the Eastern Cape section of the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve including elements of invasive removal, indigenous food capacity support and cultivation
The Strategic Management Framework for the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve serves the following purposes:
- Galvanising diverse Garden Route stakeholders around a common vision for the Biosphere Reserve and the setting of clear objectives to achieve this vision.
- Providing strategic direction on Garden Route Biosphere Reserve’s core business activities, and how it should go about consolidating and rendering in to operation the Biosphere Reserve.
- Establishing a framework for decision making and addressing how to establish and maintain effective co-ordination between the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve and the various statutory authorities active in the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve, with particular attention to clarifying jurisdictions and responsibilities of the different spheres of government, parastatals, and other statutory bodies (for example CapeNature) active in the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve.
- Facilitating the involvement of private landowners as voluntary participants in the Biosphere Reserve initiative.
- Facilitating the rationalisation of biodiversity management activities in the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve’s core, buffer and transition areas.
- Ensuring that the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve delivers unique, tangible socio-economic benefits to local communities.
- Introducing research programs, benchmarks for monitoring the performance of the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve and the state of the environment, and the exchange of information.
- Securing sufficient funding for the company to operate.
ECONOMIC GROWTH STRATEGY
Garden Route Biosphere Reserve desires a thriving local economy that provides economic opportunities for both the unskilled and skilled in a manner that is ecologically sustainable for future generations.
SPATIAL PLANNING AND LANDSCAPE
This section covers the strategic direction and proposals for Garden Route Biosphere Reserve from a spatial and landscape design perspective. The Garden Route Biosphere Reserve desires to be reimagined away from the sprawl and ‘cooky-cutter’ approach to appropriate and sustainable settlement planning and landscape design. For settlement to be sustainable from now on, a mindset of change and redirection to a more positive environment is required.
BUILDING COMMUNITY, INCLUSION AND PARTNERSHIP
This strategy forms the basis of the ongoing work to be embraced by the Biosphere.
Towards carrying out its mission the following strategic management goals are proposed for the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve:
Goal 1: To raise general awareness of the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve, build a broad-based understanding of the Man and the Biosphere programme, and establish an identity for the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve.
Goal 2: To support (organizationally, financially and/or logistically) socio-economic and conservation initiatives in the biosphere that offer scope for wider replication.
Goal 3: To facilitate and co-ordinate biosphere level research and forward planning and share the results with partners.
Goal 4: To secure sufficient and sustainable finance for the effective functioning of the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve
WHAT REGIONS ARE INCLUDED IN THE BIOSPHERE?
Garden Route Biosphere Reserve encompasses the following areas:
VISION TO LINK 3 MAJOR RESERVES
What if we could re-establish ancient elephant migration paths between the parks, what then? What other wildlife will benefit and how will that restore ecological balance of the region?
EDEN TO ADDO CORRIDOR INITIATIVE
The Eden to Addo vision is to link three mega-reserves, the Garden Route National Park, The Baviaanskloof World Heritage Site and the Addo Elephant National Park by means of natural corridors to protect and restore the integrity of bio-diversity and eco-system functioning
The corridor stretches from the Knysna Forests adjacent to the Indian Ocean in the south over many fynbos covered mountain ridges along stretches of magnificent rivers across open plains of the karoo veld to the thicket of the Addo Elephant National Park just north of Port Elizabeth
EDEN TO ADDO CORRIDOR HIKE VIDEO
The Eden to Addo Great Corridor Hike is an expedition for and about conservation. All money raised contributes to building essential conservation corridors stretching from Knysna to Addo and linking the three mega reserves of the area: The Garden Route National Park, the Baviaanskloof World Heritage Site and Addo Elephant National Park. These linkages are vital for preserving biodiversity in times of climate change. On the hike you walk through portions of all these reserves and through private areas where only Eden to Addo is allowed access.
WHO WE ARE
With an area of 698,363 hectares and a population approaching half a million, the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve is a highlight of the plant biodiversity of the Cape Province. This includes large mammals such as elephants. It is home to plateau forest, shrubs and herbs of relevance for indigenous groups such as the KhoiSan people. It includes the Tsitsikamma Marine Protected Area, Wilderness Lake Ramsar site, Garden Route National Park and two World Heritage sites, the Nelson Bay Cave and the Langkloof Valley. The Garden Route Biosphere Reserve midpoint coordinates are: 33°57’04″S – 23°38’13″E
In 2017 the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve was Recognised by UNESCO; and its company which bears the same name, a Non-Profit Company, was established to manage the Biosphere Reserve in terms of the requirements of the global Man and Biosphere programme.
Towards realizing the vision aspired to, the following values should underpin
the activities of the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve:
Capacity Building – seek to ensure that the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve and its partners are adequately resourced to meet their mandated, and ethical, responsibilities in respect of the quality and timeliness of performance, productivity, controlling of costs, and managing their responsibility with integrity and in compliance with applicable laws.
Partnerships – seek to support a diversity of options in the implementation of Garden Route Biosphere Reserve activities, including devolution to different spheres of government, devolution to NGO’s, community based natural resource management, collaborative management, participatory management, joint ventures, outsourcing and resource use concessions.
Empowerment – seek to empower stakeholders involved in the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve through facilitating capacity building and access to economic opportunities. Culture of learning – seek to provide for continual improvement through a creative and collaborative approach to problem solving and learning. It shall strive to share experiences with, and learn from, other similar regional, national and international organizations.
Accountability and transparency – seek to develop mechanisms to: report on the quality and timeliness of performance; increase productivity, control costs, and manage the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve with integrity and in compliance with applicable laws.
Balance – seek to use, and document, the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve as a demonstration project for working models of sustainable development that could be replicated across the region and scaled up country-wide.
The preferred management approach of the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve may be summarized as follows:
Building on the foundation – seek to complement, not duplicate, activities, initiatives and programs of institutions, civil society and individuals actively working within the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve.
Maintaining a small, flexible and focused institution – seek to maintain a small, cost-effective and innovative institution, the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve, which focuses on its priority objectives and leverages support for its activities through effective partnerships with other government agencies, the private sector, and civil society.
Supporting focused and directed co-ordination of activities – seek to adopt a holistic planning approach to sustain continuity and ensure functional integration across institutions, civil society and individuals. It will seek to integrate and coordinate priority activities within the larger environmental, institutional and socio-economic context of the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve.
Maintaining excellence in management – seek to attain excellence in managing the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve and serving the communities that live in it, and visitors that use it, through: accountable and informed decision-making; and coordination, co-operation and integration with relevant government agencies and stakeholders.
Garden Route’s most precious assets are its people and the unique natural environment they are privileged to live in. It is special as the biodiversity hotspot of the Cape Floral Kingdom. It is also special as an environment that the local community benefits from, especially those previously disadvantaged, and one that they share with visitors. It is an environment that the community nurtures so that future generations can continue to benefit from the use of its marine and terrestrial resources.
This quest for the Garden Route as a model sustainable living environment is shared by civil society, land owners, the business community and authorities. To pursue the journey down this road together these interest groups are partners in the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve. This is their vehicle for learning from each other, networking with biosphere reserves across the globe, and sharing their experience with others.
The Garden Route Biosphere Reserve manages in accordance with UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere programme. The Biosphere comprises a partnership between different stakeholders who are working together to establish the Garden Route biosphere reserve as a model of sustainable development. To this end the company’s core activities are:
- Education, training, marketing and publicity to its customers
- Supporting and coordinating socio-economic development, service delivery and conservation initiatives in the Biosphere Reserve
- Promoting and exchanging Biosphere level research and planning.
THE BIOSPHERE CURRENT BOARD
Learn more about what the global biospheres are doing to protect the environment and promote the economy.
MUNICIPALITIES INVOLVED WITH THE GRBR
Local Municipalities are key stakeholders of a Biosphere Reserve. It is important that key municipal representatives and councillors attend the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve Advisory Committee meetings on a regular basis. The following municipalities are found within the borders of the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve:
There are 669 biosphere reserves in 120 countries, including 20 transboundary sites.
They are distributed as follows:
75 sites in 28 countries in Africa
31 sites in 11 countries in the Arab States
147 sites in 24 countries in Asia and the Pacific
287 sites in 36 countries in Europe and North America
29 sites in 21 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Become a preliminary member of the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve.
At Garden Route Biosphere Reserve, we have a multi-disciplinary team of qualified professionals and volunteers that ensure that our efforts to conserve the environment are sustainable and effective.